Lush, xeric plants

Often I have a client ask me what’s growing in my own yard and what some of my favorite xeriscape plants are. Along with seeking low water plants, homeowners want low maintenance and or plants that bloom a majority of the year. They also seek plants of a certain size and especially ones that cover a lot of ground.

Some of the plants in my own yard include Cookie Plant (Crassula arborescens), Autumn Sage (Salvia greggi’ ‘pink)’, Blue Glow Agave (‘Agave ‘blue glow’), Sedum ‘pork ‘& beans’. (Sedum rubrotinctum’) Jersusalem Sage (Phlomis fruiticosa) and Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraquayense).

I am finding however some of the best xeriscape plants for San Diego include the following (and I’ll explain why I feel so strongly about these varieties). These are mainly Mediterranean Plants (Mediterranean climate regions of the world) and include grasses, succulents, shrubs and perennials.

Cousin Itt Acacia

Acacia ‘cousin itt’– Cousin Itt Acacia / This is an unusual plant for its form and texture. Very long needle like leaves that are a constant solid dark green. Acacias are extremely low water and there isn’t any maintenance required on this plant. Certainly a conversation piece in any garden.

Aloe ‘delta lights’ – Delta Light’s Aloe / All Aloes are so resilient as for low water needs and managing high temperatures. This aloe has an eye catching variegated leaf pattern and showy scarlet flower. This is great plant for mass plantings for a strong visual effect.

Bulbine ‘hallmark’ – Bulbine / A succulent that looks like a grass. An unusual texture for a
succulent with long grass like leaves. Multiple flower stalks for a pleasing effect that an ornamental grass could never do. This plant can get 4-5 ft across over time. This is a good choice to take up a lot of space.

Best Xeriscape plants for San Diego

Calyophus berlandieri – Sundrops / Another low spreading plant with cheerful yellow flowers. It too, is very hardy and will grow to a diameter of 3 feet across. This is a plant that will also spill over a wall.

Karl Foerster Grass

Calamagrostis ‘karl foerster’– Feather Reed Grass / All ornamental grasses are exceptional plants for low water gardens and one plant type that is under appreciated in our local landscapes. This one is unique for its slender habit and height. This plant can reach 4- 6 feet tall with wheat colored blooms. It you like movement in the landscape, grasses are one of the best bets. Cut them back in the winter for a once a year maintenance factor.

Euphorbia ‘bonfire’ –Bonfire Euphorbia / This plant offers exceptional color and interest and even more so with its showy flower. Euphorbias are good to defer gophers due to its toxicity. This plant will perform will with very low water and little maintenance once established.

Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ – Fred Ives Graptoveria / Another striking succulent plant. It is unique dusty rose color and older leaves that have a golden color. It does offer some nice texture to a garden. As it matures it can take over two feet of space as its spreads horizontally.

Bonfire Euphorbia

Grevillea ‘superb’ – Superb Grevillea / A smaller Grevillea, this one could be shaped to be a small tree at about five feet tall. Striking flowers in red, so delicate and so interesting, make this such a great plant. The needle like foliage coupleds with the intricate flowers make this a certain focal point in a garden.

Hesperaloe ‘brake lights’ – Red Yucca / A great contender for any space with full sun, high temperatures and hummingbirds. This type of yucca is also available with pink or yellow blossoms. A fairly large plant growing 24-30 wide, the flower spikes will reach 5-6 feet and when on full display with several stalks a real showstopper in the garden. Hummingbirds are bonus and this plant will attract them.

Red Yucca ‘brakellights’

Pennisetum ‘cherry sparkler’ – Cherry Sparkler Fountain Grass / A typical fountain grass about 3 feet tall and wide. But note the mix of color in the foliage. It is aptly named. We’ve all seen enough purple fountain grass in the landscape, so this one will surely become a stand out for its unique color.

Penstemmon ‘margarita BOP’ – Beards Tongue / A very long bloomer, it shines with its iridescent purple/fuchsia flowers. This plant is more of a low lying plant that will spread nearly 3 feet across. A long term favorite, and one that should be in your garden.

Pelargonium ‘sidoides’ – Burgundy Geranium / A no nonsense plant offering burgundy flowers and a grey green leaf. Really no maintenance with this plant. The flowers are on the smaller side, but you don’t have to dead head. One more that will spread some 18” or more.

Salvia elegans – Pineapple Sage / A delightful Pineapple fragrance when you crush the leaves. It is listed as a fall bloomer, I’ve had one that has been blooming since late spring. Intense red colored flowers that attract humming birds. Like most sages, very hardy and low water.

Teucrium ‘azure blue’ – Azure Blue Germander / One of the nicest shrub like plants with a light blue flower. Gray green leaves make a nice contrast to the flower. Also this plant is very heat tolerant and an unusual color addition to the garden.

Azure Blue Germander

Honestly, it is a challenge to select the very best xeriscape plants for San Diego as there are just so many. This is meant to be an introduction to hundreds of potential plants to be used to replace our former lawns. I’ve found all of the above to be fairly bullet proof for most homeowners to enjoy new found success in their gardens. But for a more comprehensive array of plants so many other factors need to be considered. Elements such as soil, exposure, wind come to mind. And then consider the overall look defined by shapes; color, textures, form and the desired function all come in to play.

Xeriscape front yard

Contact Letz Design to find the right the best xeriscape plants for San Diego and your own garden space. I look forward to educating you and allowing you to be involved in the plant selection process for a successful low water makeover of your yard.