Drought Tolerant California Native Plants

Drought Tolerant California Native Plants: 15 Species! (updated)

One of the most important things you can do as a gardener is to choose plants with low water needs, and all drought-tolerant California native plants will fit the bill. You might be wondering what this means for gardeners in California’s Central Valley or those who live inland without access to irrigation. The 15 plants profiled below are a great place to start, but many more California natives can thrive with little water.

This list of drought-tolerant California native plants has been updated in light of the current drought conditions in our state.

1. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)

There are over 100 species of manzanita, and most are native to California. They come in various shapes and sizes, from ground covers to tall shrubs. All manzanitas have small pink or white flowers that bloom in the springtime.

Manzanitas require very little water once they are established and perfect for gardens in hot, dry climates. However, like the ‘Pride of Petaluma,’ some species have been specially bred to tolerate more water. This variety is a cross between Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and A. patula from the mountains of Baja, California.

Manzanitas are deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, winter hardy, and fire-resistant, with the bonus of beautiful pink or white flowers in the springtime.

2. Toyon ( Heteromeles arbutifolia )

toyon

Toyon is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide with leaves clustered at the ends of branches with grayish bark that peels as it matures. The greenish-white flowers appear in clusters in the springtime.

Toyon is drought tolerant and does well in a variety of soil types. It is also resistant to deer, making it a great choice for landscapes in areas where deer are a problem.

Toyon provides food for various animals, including songbirds, squirrels, and raccoons. Native Americans also use it to make tea and other medicinal remedies.

3. Ceanothus (Ceanothus)

There are over 50 species of ceanothus, most of which are native to California. All ceanothus has blue flowers that bloom in the springtime. Like ‘Concha,’ some species have smaller leaves and a more compact growth habit, making them perfect for small gardens.

Ceanothus is drought tolerant and deer resistant. In addition, the flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and the seeds provide food for birds and mammals. Ceanothus comes in various sizes and colors, making it an excellent choice for many gardens.

4. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

4. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

California poppies are native throughout much of California, except the deserts. They grow from 4 to 24 inches tall with yellow or orange petals that can be pinched off if you want to leave only one on the plant at a time. They will bloom all summer long in cooler areas but die back during the winter months in hotter climates.

If you’re looking for a hummingbird attractor, look no further than the California poppy. Hummingbirds love the bright orange flowers on long stalks. In addition, poppies will grow in most soils with good drainage and require little water once established.

5. Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis)

Coyote bush is also known as California Baccharis, chaparral broom, or false willow. This evergreen shrub tolerates heat and humidity fairly well but can be damaged by frost.

Coyote bushes have gray-green leaves that are finely textured like ferns with small yellow flowers that bloom almost nonstop all year round if there’s enough rain. If you’re looking for something easy to maintain, this is the plant for you.

Coyote bush is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and provides food and shelter for many animals. It can be used as a hedge or screen or planted in groups to form a naturalized area.

6. California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica)

There are several species of California fuchsia, all of which are native to our state. They come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, and pink. Some have hairy leaves, while others have smooth leaves.

California fuchsias like full sun but can also tolerate some light shade. They grow best in well-drained soils but can be grown in soil with moderate to high moisture levels. Unfortunately, deer will not eat them.

These plants are excellent for hummingbirds, who love tubular flowers. California fuchsias can be used as a groundcover, in containers, or as part of a mixed border.

7. Bush Anemone (Calyptridium moniliform)

Bush anemones are native to coastal scrub and chaparral habitats in California. They are small evergreen plants that grow 8 to 12 inches tall with hairy leaves and white flowers that bloom from late winter through early spring.

Bush anemones like full sun to light shade and well-drained soils. They are drought tolerant and deer resistant. These little plants are perfect for rock gardens, xeriscaping, or underplanting larger plants.

Bush anemones attract bees and butterflies. They can be used in borders or containers, and some birds may eat the seeds.

8. Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata)

Redmaids are also known as redmaids, scarlet flowers, and desert pink. This plant comes in various colors, including white, red/pink, orange/yellow, and even purple!

Redmaids flowers grow 2 to 3 feet tall with small leaves that form rosettes close to the ground. The flowers bloom throughout springtime and summer if there’s enough rain. These plants tolerate heat well but don’t like cold or waterlogged soils.

Redmaids are drought tolerant, deer resistant, and provide food and shelter for many animals. They can be used in borders, rock gardens, or a mixed border.

9. California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

California buckwheat is also known as chaparral coffeeberry, sedge buckwheat, and wild. It is an evergreen perennial that grows from 6 to 18 inches tall with small leaves and clusters of white flowers that bloom from late winter through early spring.

This plant tolerates heat well but does not tolerate cold or frosty conditions. It prefers well-drained soils but can grow in soil with moderate to high moisture levels.

California buckwheat attracts bees and hummingbirds and provides food for many different animals. The flowers attract pollinators, while the leaves attract grasshoppers, which feed other animals. California buckwheats can be used in containers, borders, or rock gardens, and some birds may eat the seeds.

10. Coastal Sage (Salvia mellifera)

Coastal sage grows 2 to 4 feet tall with aromatic silver-green leaves covered with fine hairs giving it a soft texture. It produces purplish-blue flowers from late winter through early springtime if there’s enough rain. This plant tolerates heat well but will not tolerate cold conditions or waterlogged soils. It prefers full sun but can also tolerate some light shade.

Coastal sage is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and provides food and shelter for many animals. It can be used in borders, rock gardens, or a mixed border.

11. California Lilac (Ceanothus gloriosus)

California lilac is a large shrub or small tree that grows 10 to 20 feet tall with a spread of 6 to 10 feet. It has dark green leaves and produces blue flowers from late winter through early springtime.

This plant tolerates heat well but does not tolerate cold conditions, frost, or waterlogged soils. It prefers full sun but can also tolerate some light shade.

California lilac is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It can be used in borders, as a screen, or in large containers. In addition, the flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

12. Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point.’

Ceanothus is also known as California lilac and New England lilac. It is a deciduous shrub that grows 10 feet with oval blue, green leaves that form dense mats on the ground. It produces clusters of white flowers during late through early springtime if there’s enough rain.

This plant tolerates heat well but does not tolerate cold conditions, frost, or waterlogged soils. It prefers full sun but can also tolerate some light shade.

Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’ is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It can be used in borders, as a screen, or in large containers. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

13. Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)

The coffeeberry is also known as California buckwheat, chaparral coffeeberry, sedge buckwheat, and wild buckwheat. It is an evergreen perennial that grows from 6 to 18 inches tall with small leaves and clusters of white flowers. The fruit is a dark red berry that is edible but is sour.

This plant tolerates heat well but does not tolerate cold conditions, frost, or waterlogged soils. It prefers full sun but can also tolerate some light shade.

Coffeeberry is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It can be used in borders, as a groundcover, or in containers. In addition, the fruit attracts birds and other wildlife.

14. Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

The monkeyflower is an annual that grows 2 feet tall with bright yellow flowers. These plants are usually started from seed, but they can be easily transplanted. They can tolerate heat well but don’t like wet soils or cold weather.

Monkeyflowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. They can be used in borders, rock gardens, or containers while the leaves provide food for grasshoppers, which feed other animals.

15. Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii)

The purple sage is golden, purple mountain sage, desert salvia, and Dorr’s salvia. It is an evergreen perennial that grows up to 1 foot tall with small leaves and spikes of lavender flowers all year round if there’s enough rain. This plant tolerates heat well but does not tolerate cold conditions, frost, or waterlogged soils. It prefers full sun but can also tolerate some light shade.

Purple sage attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other wildlife. In addition, the leaves provide food for grasshoppers, which in turn feed other animals while the nectar attracts birds and game birds like quail.

These plants are good choices for borders, rock gardens, or containers. They can be planted near tomatoes to confuse the pests.

Conclusion

there you have it, folks, a few heat-tolerant plants that you can use to add some color and life to your garden. These plants will do well in hot, dry climates and can tolerate a bit of shade. So, if you’re looking for some plants that can take the heat, then these are the ones for you.

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