California and Western
California the summers are hot and
long. The rainy season is from November-ish to March but
inches a year.
This is Sunset zone 18, or USDA zone 10.
In drought years we've
had water rationing and prices keep going up. But the flowers
the canyons just keep blooming.
Drought tolerant does not mean you can only landscape with cactus and
succulent plants (although visit my succulent
The other option is to go native. Or,
at least mainly native. My garden has a few visitors from Australia and
Africa who also like my climate. Here are a few plants that
done well in my dry, heavy clay, alkaline soil.
This perennial has the most beautiful deep blue blooms!
Colors range from white/light blue to deep mystical
They are evergreen and bloom during spring. They smell like
Heaven. They reach 4 to 6 feet tall
and as wide. After they're established they can live off
rainfall. Normally we get 6-10 inches a year.
These are native to California and turn the canyons blue in the
spring. This baby loves my heavy clay, alkaline soil and
fast. Don't over water or
Desert willow is a drought tolerant shrub native to the Western United
States. It can grow up to 40 feet tall. It can be
left as a
shrub, or trained into a tree with several trunks.
It blooms from
spring through fall and gets long dangling seed pods that can measure
up to 8 inches long.
The fragrant flowers bloom in white to pink and purple. The
blooms are borne on long clusters with large, 2 inch flowers with
Birds will eat the seeds and bees and
hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. These shrubs will
their leafs in the winter. They make a
nice alternative to other pink flowering trees (like cherries) in dry
more flower photos on my Desert Willow page...
Perennial with flowers ranging from white to red. Most
common are orange. Driving through the canyons
I used to see these big, bright orange blooms hanging down the steep
canyon walls. "What the heck IS that?" They grow about 2
feet tall wide. In the
hot, interior valleys (where I am) they like to have a little bit of
Flower colors range from white, cream, yellow through orange.
(Fall for you East Coasters), they benefit from a light trimming.
Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
In spring this cactus variety gets
yellow flowers which turn into red prickly pears. They are
- and delicious!
Cactus pears have the texture of watermelon and
a mild pear taste. They are high in fiber too. The
are black and about the size of a pea. You can also eat the
raw in salads or salsa or cooked. Prickly pears grow up to 12 feet tall
and as wide.
The pads do not have prominent thorns. The thorns are small, hair like
and not something you want in
your skin. I recommend using tongs to
handle them, or leather gloves. I've also seen cardboard
My cactus came from a cutting my neighbor threw over
the fence for me. I let it root
where it fell on the ground - without planting. This cactus
is in year five
for the rooted plant and I need to cut it back before it takes over the
To remove thorns on the cactus pears I've had success washing them
under running water for a few minutes. Use tongs to handle
and inspect them carefully for thorns!
Read more about them on my Prickly
This is culinary sage, but all types do well here. They
are fairly drought resistant and don't mind the
Sage likes full sun to part shade and grows up to 2 feet tall and wide
with beautiful blue blooms in the
Fresh sage is great for stuffing into chicken or turkey
Just break off a small branch and put it in before the
orange for a great flavor combo.
Read more about growing drought tolerant sage plants on my Growing
White Sage (Salvia apiana)
This beautiful shrub is native to Southern California and
usually found growing wild in the coastal sage scrub habitat on the
western edges of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. It grows
tall (at least) and 5 feet across.
White Sage is also called Bee Sage; my
camera was lucky enough to catch one on a flower. The leaves
4 inches long, thick and velvety and are slightly sticky. The
plant is very aromatic so you should find a spot in your garden where
you can enjoy its fragrance.
White sage is considered sacred by Native Americans, like the Chumash,
in the southwestern United States. The Peterson
Medicinal Plants And Herbs describes it thus:
expectorant; used for colds, coughs, sore throats and systemic poison
oak rashes. An important ceremonial plant among
groups. The herb was burned as a fumigant after an illness in
The silvery plant seems to glow in the moonlight. The flowers
white, sometimes tinted purple and are produced in whorls on long
branches up to three feet long.
Gardener Sayings and Art for my Plant Pals:
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