Top Five Native Plants for a Drought-Tolerant Garden
For ornamental gardeners wanting to modify their plantings by using a xeriscape philosophy, Nellene Teubner Plouffe, writing for Suite101, offers five top performers in drought tolerant gardens get their status from ease of growth, flower power and hardiness. Her source: Mike Evans, owner of Tree of Life Nursery in Southern California.
These five plants provide a good foundation for a xeriscape garden:
- Manzanita Develops as a Low or Medium Shrub or Small Tree – The Manzanita grows as a low shrub (Artostaphylos ‘John Dourley’), medium bush (Artostaphylos ‘Sunset’) or small tree (Artostaphylos ‘Lester Rowntree’). The Manzanita is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that blooms profusely with white or pink blossoms. It makes an excellent foundation plant for a xeriscape landscape.
- Ceanothus Attracts Butterflies – The Ceanothus’ popularity comes from its color and fragrance, in addition to being very drought tolerant. The flowers range from white to light blue to deep purple. The shrub also attracts butterflies. As with the Manzanita, the Ceanothus can be a stair-step plant as a low shrub (Ceanothus ‘Heart’s Desire), a medium bush (Ceanothus ‘Dark Sky) or small tree (Ceanothus arboreus).
- Try Sage (Salvia clevelandii) for Fragrance and Fast Growth – Salvia clevelandii is known for its fragrant, deep purple blooms that hold from spring through late fall. It is a hardy grower that will reach 3-4 feet but can climb as high as 6 feet or more. One of the beauties of salvias is that they are one of the drought tolerants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies with their fragrance and bright blooms.
- Christmas Berry or Toyon – The famous town of Hollywood, CA was named after the Christmas Berry or Toyon bush, (Heteromeles arbutifolia). Many gardeners pick the Toyon for the garden because of its striking red berries. It usually grows to 6-8 ft. high in full sun, but can tolerate full shade.
- Ornamental Grasses Add Texture – Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is one of the many drought tolerant grasses that gardeners are using to mark paths and borders, as well as providing filler. It also functions well in bunches, reaching a height of about 5 feet. The long slender stems sprout tall tuffs that make it attractive, particularly in the fall when the plum turns a light shade of purple.