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Plant drought-tolerant flowers, shrubs and succulents


Lavender bush by Gillian Townsend

As fall draws near, it is easy to see which plants suffered the most this season. With no or very little rain, Los Angeles gardens took severe hits to their livelihood . For the next season, try planting more drought-tolerant flowers, shrubs and succulents  for added beauty and health in your garden. The following list contains suggestions for plants that tolerate dry conditions:

California Poppies need full sun in well-drained soil. They are self-sowing and best for hillsides and along a driveway. They require deadheading often.

Cornflowers: use the seeds from the dried flower head to extend the crop. Once established, they tolerate heat and lack of water. Their true blue color is intense.

Marigolds are like cornflowers. Roll the dried flower heads with fingers and simply fling the seeds into the flowerbed. Water well to establish but they tolerate the heat and drought very well. They have an unusual but pleasant fragrance. Deadhead them often to get more blooms.

Salvia Apiana is a native California plant. Once established, survives in extreme drought conditions. Gather small twigs of Salvia that still has a few leaves. Bundle tightly and tie with twine. Light the small bundle and burn as incense, a traditional Native American and African practice. It is said that burning Salvia purifies the air. Burn near a window to keep away annoying insects like flies.

Wallflower is native to central and the southern coast of California. It likes sandy soil and is great for wildlife. Plant in full sun.

Chrysanthemums can be planted anytime of the year but early enough to establish their root system before summer heat. Make sure soil drains well because they do not like to sit in water. Use all-purpose fertilizer often, about every two weeks. Great plant to re-furbish garden after other spring and summer blooms are spent for the season.

Ceanothus is evergreen and tolerates drought conditions very well. Not as difficult to care for as some have said.

Thyme is extremely valuable for California fire prone areas, Thyme is recommended for use because it is fire-resistant. Although drought tolerant it requires some summer water if appearance is a concern. Plant it in full sun or light shade.

Silver leafed plants:
Honey Flower: mature plants are drought-tolerant. Healthier if watered in coastal areas of California.

Lavender is highly drought resistant and has beautiful, fragrant pale purple flowers. There are very little results from planting seeds but some will sprout and grow. To get seeds, clip flowers on long stems. Hang to dry upside down with flower heads inside bag. Place flower heads in a strainer and rub. Seeds are tiny and black. Broadcast into garden bed. Plants are wider than they are tall and are effective used as a hedge.

Big Ears are large green plants with showy leaves resembling elephants' ears. Once planted, the root is hard to get rid of and new plants sprout. Be sure to plant where you want it to grow.

Senecio mandraliscae requires full sun and is drought-tolerant.

Calibanus hookeri has a beautiful, sculptural quality. Being a succulent, it is very drought-tolerant.


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