Don’t let this year’s rainy weather fool you. California remains a drought-prone state, requiring growers to remain up-to-date with their water conservation practices and irrigation systems. With our Mediterranean climate and dry summers, it’s best to know which drought-resistant plants can be added to our landscapes and gardens.
Although toxic to livestock and some household pets, this plant thrives in full sun and can thrive with once-a-week deep irrigation. It’s very drought tolerant when mature. Lantana is relatively maintenance-free, too, meaning you won’t need to deadhead anything to keep plants blooming. It’ll attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden, encouraging pollination and a healthy landscape. Available in different color combinations, lantana can be matched to the existing color palette of your garden.
It takes six to eight years for agave plants to mature, but they’re extremely hearty in low-water conditions. Better still, they can double as firebreaks from wildfires. Agave can grow in cropland that would otherwise have to be fallowed or abandoned due to a lack of water resources. Although typically native to tropical areas like Mexico, agave plants may also do well in water-stressed parts of California. Almonds require between 48 and 55 inches of rain to thrive, with tomatoes demanding up to 78 inches annually. Agave, on the other hand, only needs two inches, which is why schools like the University of California’s Davis location have established the Stuart & Lisa Woolf Fund for Agave Research, which studies the plant’s potential future in our state.
Native to the coast of southern California, salvia is a fast-growing, aromatic herb that will eventually reach four feet in height and width. It likes full sun and well-draining soil. Once established, multiple Salvia hybrids are particularly drought tolerant, including Salvia microphylla, Salvia clevelandii, and Cleveland sage (also known as California blue). The plants will usually starting blooming in late April, bearing blue-violet flowers, as well as fragrant leaves that can be cooked. Watch out for excessive watering and/or fertilizer applications, though, since those can increase fungal disease problems.
Rosemary, or Savia rosmarinus, is a Mediterranean plant that thrives in California’s hot climate. It requires little water once established, can be used as ground cover, and grows in everything from partial shade to full sun. While California’s potential for frosty weather limits the ability of many tropical plants to grow in this state, rosemary can thrive at lower temperatures, too, even down to 15 degrees C. If you’re planting a new crop, be sure to water regularly during the first of growth, until the rosemary is properly established.
Echinacea purpurea, also known as the purple coneflower, is a drought tolerant plant that thrives in nearly all soils, provided there’s adequate drainage. Coneflowers are beacons for pollinators like birds and butterflies, who visit the plants’ brighly-colored blooms and seedy heads through the summer and fall. You can pick the flowers for use in bouquets, but when purple coneflowers encourage other creatures to visit (and improve) your landscape, we recommend leaving them in place!
For planting materials, products, and customized advice, please visit one of Fruit Growers Supply’s service centers today or contact us here. We’ll help you plan a drought-tolerant landscape that suits both your land and budget.