Posted February 19, 2015 by Gabriel Posternak

#CaliforniaDrought: 15 Drought Tolerant Plants For Your Home

Everybody loves a green lawn. They bring life to any home and provide a natural touch that’s impossible to achieve by any other means. However, having a colorful lawn comes with a cost, sometimes too high to pay for it. And we’re not talking about money here, mind you. We’re talking about the huge amount of water you have to use to keep your plants and grass green all year long.

Given how times have changed and how dry the climate has gotten, a change for better was needed. That’s exactly how landscapers understood it and that’s why they are now turning to drought-tolerant plants to save water and costs. And though these kinds of trees and plants don’t enjoy the praise other plants do, they are beautiful in their own way. Besides, they’ll let you have a lovely lawn that won’t die from the California drought.

Naturally, you’ll have to care for them, learn where to plant them and which conditions are the best for them. The fact that these plants are drought-tolerant doesn’t make them indestructible. They are plants after all and they’ll need your attention if you’re to have an eye-catching landscape with an eco-friendly design. But it will all be worth the effort. That’s why we’ve compiled a selection of 15 drought-tolerant plants you can use to give that natural touch to your own home.

Sedum rupestre

Also known as Angelina. Low-growing, mat-forming, evergreen stonecrop. It doesn’t grow tall but it can spread freely in all directions with enough full sun. It blooms into yellow flowers between June and August. It’s perfect as groundcover or as filler between other plants and it’s great along border fronts and containers.


Helictotrichon sempervirens

Also known as Blue oat grass. Ornamental grass with spiky steel blue leaf blades. Can grow up to 2-3 feet tall and has a similar spread to form a porcupine-like clump. By fall, it get lots of golden-wheat flower spikelets. It’s also great for groundcover, although in mass. Combined with the Angelina, it can bring an amazing sight to any border or rock garden. Its blue foliage can also be used as an accent or to contrast pink flowers.


Myoporum parvifolium Pink

Very low growing, trailing dense evergreen shrub. Grows up to 6 inches tall and spreads to 5 feet or more. Has closely spaced leaves and blooms with pink flowers at the tip of its branches by the summer. Since it spreads that much, it’s an excellent plant for rockeries and to help smother out weeds. Given its evergreen nature, it’s the best way to have a green lawn throughout the year.


Lavandula 'Multifida'

Evergreen shrub with gray-green lobed leaves. It can grow up to 3 feet and it produces tall spikes of blue-violet flowers from spring to fall. It offers an amazing contrast with other plants and it goes great with sand spots and rocks. It’s important to say that not all dry climates are appropriate for it, since the Lavandula needs mild temperatures to fully bloom.



Also known as “living cement”, Dymondia is a very drought tolerant ground cover. Grows up to 2 inches high but spreads freely to work as a good lawn replacement. It has a green/silver color and certain species offer yellow summer blooms. It’s great as filler between stepping stones and other confined areas. It takes light to medium foot traffic without any problems.


Sempervivum tectorum

Also known as houseleek. Succulent perennial forming mats that is typically comprised by rosettes. Grows up to 4 inches tall and the mother rosette spreads in all directions by horizontal stems to form offsets. In the summer is crowned by red-purple flowers. It’s an appropriate plant for rock gardens, stone walls, edging or to cover small areas of ground. Also work as ground cover, as long as it’s planted in groups.

Agastache rugosa

Bushy perennial with stems of green and licorice-scented leaves. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It blooms with purple-blue flowers during the summer which hummingbirds love. Great plant for borders, contrast and to add some nice scent to any drought-tolerant landscape.


Echinocactus grusonii

Also known as golden barrel. Cactus with a rounded form that elongates over time. It grows up to 3 feet and spread as much. It has bright green stems and yellow areoles that produce yellow spines. During the summer, it blooms with yellow flowers. It combines perfectly with blue succulents and works like a charm in containers, rock gardens and conservatories. They work best when planted next to large rocks or boulders.


Olea Wilsonii

Fruitless low-branching evergreen tree from the olive family. It can grow up to 25 feet tall and wide. It has a dense canopy of gray-green leaves and a trunk that becomes knotty over time, which is great for night lighting. It blooms with small white flowers during the spring and develops a showy and beautiful bark. As any tree, they are great to create some shade as well as some backdrop for other plants.



Relatively small tree with spreading branches and a short trunk. It can grow up to 30 feet and it blooms with purple pink flowers during the early spring. During the fall, its color changes to a beautiful yellow. Given that and its drought-tolerant nature, it’s used as an ornamental tree as a way to add brilliant color to any landscape.


Rhus lancea

Small landscape tree with a rounded canopy and weeping evergreen foliage. Grows up to 30 feet with an abundance of sword-shaped leaves. This create a dense canopy that’s perfect for those looking for some shade. Serves great as a pavement tree and it’s a fine addition to wildlife-friendly gardens, since it attracts butterflies and birds.


Tabebuia rosea

Also known as pink trumpet. Evergreen tree with a long smooth trunk and a rounded spreading crown. Grows up to 90 feet tall and 50 feet wide in the wild, but are shorter in lawns. It blooms with trumpet-shaped purplish-pink and white flowers which grow in clusters during the driest season. It’s best when used as a way to add color to lawns in hard winter areas but also in landscapes looking for shade.


Arbutus Marina

Medium-sized tree with a broad dense crown. It can grow up to 50 feet through its shiny red trunk and branches. It blooms with clusters of urn-shaped white-pinkish flower that are produced all year long with a peak in spring and fall. It also produces a red edible fruit that also provides it with an astonishing look. Any drought-tolerant landscape can benefit from its colors and its shade, which combines well with any plant.



Evergreen fast-growing shrub with an open structure and shiny, dark leaves. It grows up to 10 feet and produce small berries that give the plant its name. These can be colored in hues that go from lime green to rose red and black, which contrasts perfectly with the dark foliage. It’s important to say that these berries aren’t edible but they attract lots of birds and small mammals during late summer. As such, it’s perfect for landscapes looking for a way to contrast with showier plants and for wildlife-friendly lawns.


Lewisia cotyledon

Also known as Sunset Strain. Evergreen plant that forms low fleshy rosettes of tough leaves. It can grow up to a foot high and 10 inches wide. It blooms with large star-shaped flowers in clusters with various sunset shades of yellow, peach, salmon, orange and pink. It’s a nice plant for rock garden setting as long as it has excellent drainage.


Combinations of all of the above can take your drought-tolerant lawn to a new level. However, you should consult with a local contractor to find which plants work best for your area, since many might need some special care. But in spite of that, all of these alternatives will give you the natural touch you want while also help you in saving the water we all need.

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