My Top 5 (Truly) Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Plants

July 1, 2015

Finally! People in Southern California are catching on about the ridiculousness of having a lawn... and needing to water it. I wanted to help you avoid the mistakes I made in planting a grass-free, truly drought-tolerant landscape by focusing in on these beauties that won’t steer you wrong.


Here goes:

 1. My first choice has to be the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Besides being the state flower, it is truly a tough but beautiful flowering plant native to our region and adapted to our climate, which inherently does well and attracts butterflies and birds.

  • You can get away with watering it once a month, or less in the “rainy season,” whatever that is.

  • What’s more, it does well with sandy soils and intense sunlight

  • It gives you huge bang for your buck, as it quickly reproduces and spreads new plants in your garden on its own

  • It’s pretty cool watching the flowers curl up for the night and unfurl each morning


2. Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) is a close second, although I get conflicting


information about this attractive, wispy grass - It is federally listed as native to California and the U.S. Southwest, however is also described as having invasive tendencies since it can out-compete other natives and self-seeds, spreading quickly. However, I picked it for its ability to withstand harsh climate conditions and still look so soft and luxurious in a home garden in place of a water-sucking lawn.

  • It does well in full sun with infrequent watering

  • From the grass family

  • Grows steadily



3. The 'Sticks on Fire' /  Red Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli) rounds out the top 3, since it is visually stunning through its radiant color and interesting texture.

  • This is a very hardy succulent that can take anything the climate throws at it

  • Requires only infrequent watering

  • It is NOT a California, but rather Madagascar

  • Be warned it can be toxic to your child, dog, or cat if they decide to chew on it


4. Trailing Lantana / Lantana (Lantana camara and Lantana montevidensis) are a favorite of mine for their YEAR ROUND, brightly-blooming puffy flowers. These are native to South America, but do well in sandy/rocky soils with full or partial sun.

  • These are mega butterfly and hummingbird attractors

  • Require a low amount of water

  • Come in a variety of colors that pop

  • Just want to reiterate that the flowers bloom year round, which is the best part.


5. Blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae) have a unique blue hue that pops against most other


plants, and are seriously tough, but unique-looking succulent from the sunflower family, that hails from South Africa.

  • It’s a spreading succulent that grows fairly quickly for its type

  • It has a unique shape, texture, and color

  • Is great for ground cover and boarders

  • Can take full sun but requires little water

Enjoy and get to plantin'!!! :)



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