Popular California Native and Drought-tolerant Plants

This article was written by Richard Flowers and first appeared on Green Thumb Nursery It is vital to understand the climactic regions of the world where Mediterranean (drought-tolerant) plants come from and how that plays a role in plant selection. Plants indigenous to California (mainly Southern California coastal areas and inland valleys) do equally well in this region, as we share a Mediterranean climate. This means the winters are moist and cool and summers are warm to hot and dry. Rainfall typically occurs late fall to early spring but it is often erratic and unpredictable at times. This type of climate is characterized by the reoccurrence of drought cycles that can last for many years. Other times you can have deluges of heavy rain for a period of time; this is a repetitive cycle. The summer dry season often extends from May-November. Areas of the world that also experience the same climate as we do are Chile, Peru, Southwest and Southern Australia, the cape portion of South Africa, and where the Mediterranean Sea is (Spain, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and so forth)  (see map  below). With all that said, it is best to plant these types of plants during the fall to take advantage of the cool rainy season.

They are among the most colorful, tough, and water-wise plants that customers are flocking to grab these days. Due to drought conditions, the majority of consumers have changed their buying behavior to include plants that demand low amounts of supplemental water once established. Planting both Mediterranean plants (which includes California natives) isn’t a bad idea professionally. These plants are adapted to similar soil and climate conditions.

Ceanothus – Commonly called California Lilac, these diverse plants include selections that are ground covers, medium-sized shrubs, and tree-like forms. Most bear blue to purple-blue flowers.  If you are seeking a ground cover, I suggest ‘Pt. Reyes’ at 1-2 ft. tall and 12-16 ft. wide, or ‘Carmel Creeper’ at 1- 2-1/2 feet tall and 5-15 ft. wide...