Water Wise and Drought Resistant Plants

This list contains some of the plants that we recommend at the nursery that have low water requirements. All are hardy to Lake County, Sunset Garden Guide Zone 7 (USDA Zone 8) unless noted and almost all are on the deer resistant list.


Calocedrus decurrens Incense Cedar Ca. Native, evergreen, slow at first, to 75ft.+
Cedrus deodara Deodar Cedar Does well here, fast growing evergreen to 80 ft.
xChitalpa tashkentensis Chitalpa Deciduous, fast growing to 25ft., flowers in summer
Lagerstroemia indica Crape Myrtle- Deciduous, flowers mid/late summer, fall foliage,20ft.+
Laurus nobilis Sweet Bay- Evergreen, herb, screen, container, slow grower up to 40ft.
Olea europea Olive-Cold sensitive evergreen, container plant, slow to 25ft.
Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache- Deciduous, moderate growing to 50ft., fall foliage
Robinia Locust-Deciduous, fast to 40ft.+, flowers spring, has a few negatives

Shrubs: Evergreen, Large, Sunny

Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree- container, screen plant, informal hedge, flowers, ‘fruit’
Arctostaphylos densiflora Vine Hill Manzanita- CA. Native, informal hedge, flowers, 5-6′
Cistus ladanifer ‘Maculatus’ Crimson Spot Rockrose- white flowers spring, fast grower to 5’x5′
Cistus x purpureus Orchid Rockrose- purple pink flowers spring, fast grower to 4’x5′
Cotoneaster lacteus Parney Cotoneaster- informal hedge, 8’x8′, white flowers, red berries
Elaeagnus pungens Silverberry- Fast to 10′ x 10′ or more, can take shearing for hedge
Feijoa sellowiana Pineapple Guava- flowers, fruit, hedge, screen, or can be a tree
Nerium oleander Oleander- cold sensitive, flowers, 10′ to 20′, depends on variety
Rhamnus alaternus Italian Buckthorn- fast to 15’+, shear for hedge or train as tree
Rosmarinus off. Tuscan Blue Tuscan Blue Rosemary-Large grower, can shear as hedge
Teucrium fruticans Bush Germander- gray foliage and blue flowers over long period, 5’+

Shrubs: Evergreen, Large, Shadier

Arbutus unedo see above-part shade
Elaeagnus pungens see above-part shade
Laurus nobilis see above-can be grown as a shrub in shade
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape-CA Native, sun/shade, informal hedge, foundation planting
Nandina domestica Heavenly Bamboo-full size to 10′, will take sun or shade, bamboo look
Nandina d. Compacta Heavenly Bamboo- 5-7′, will take sun or shade, white flowers, berries
Viburnum tinus Laurustinus- 6′ ft or larger, hedge, foundation, white flowers, blue berries

Shrubs: Deciduous, Sus To Part Sun

Cercis occidentalis Western Redbud- CA Native, magenta flowers spring, pods fall, large
Cotinus coggygaria Smoke Tree-large grower, wispy bronze flowers, can have purple leaves
Cytisus hybrids Broom- yellow, red and pink flowers in spring, sun
Ribies Currant- CA Native, showy white or pink flowers spring, part sun

Shrubs: Less Than 4 ft.

Caryopteris x clandonensis Blue Mist-Late summer blooming deciduous shrub/perennial
Juniperus Junipers-Although some get larger, many varieties are in the 4′ range
Lavandula Lavender- Many varieties, good in mass, informal hedge, lasting bloom
Santolina Cotton Lavender- gray or green foliage, low growing, informal hedge

Shrubs/Perennial Ground Covers:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry Manzanita -CA Native, evergreen shrub to 1′ x 10′
Cistus ‘Sunset’ Sunset Rockrose- magenta flowers, grayish foliage, 1-2’x10′ shrub
Cistus salvifolius Sage leaf Rockrose- white flowers spring on a 2’x3′ shrub
Hypericum calycinum St. John’s Wort- Perennial to1′ spreading underground, yellow flowers
Juniperus Juniper- Many rug juniper types to 1′ tall and 5-10′ wide
Mahonia repens Creeping Oregon Grape- low grower to 1 ó ft, yellow spring bloom
Thymus Thyme- nice small scale ground cover, good between stones

Perennials: Sun To Part Sun

Achillea Yarrow- many sizes and colors to chose from
Armeria Long blooming low grass like clumps with pink ball shaped blossoms
Centranthus Red valerian/Jupiters Beard- Self seeding 2′ perennial, long blooming pink flws.
Coreopsis Tickseed- the colors they are developing on this workhorse is astounding
Erigeron Santa Barbara Daisy- Long blooming, 2′ growing, little white daisies fade pink
Euphorbia Interesting early bloomer, very structural, good for light shade too
Gaura Pink or white blooms on airy stems, low maintenance, long bloomer
Origanum Ornamental Oregano- flowers over a long period, easy to maintain
Perovskia Russian Sage- not a true sage, tall grower, blue blooms mid summer to frost
Salvia Huge family, all shapes, sizes, and colors. (Some like moisture)
Sedum Stonecrops- come in all shapes and sizes
Semperviven Hens and Chicks- Cold hardy succulents look best with some light shade
Stachys Lamb’s Ear- grow as a ground cover or accent in your beds, gray foliage
Verbena bonariensis Most verbena like water but this tall, airy, short lived, self seeder takes it dry

Perennials: On The Shadier Side

Ferns-Native Western Sword Fern and Giant Chain Fern are some.
Helleborus Hellebores bloom in winter and don’t need much water in the summer
Huechera There are native varieties of coral bells for the water wise garden
Liriope Lilyturfs can handle low water if planted in shade, bloom fall
Tolmiea Piggyback plant is a CA. Native and works outside
Vinca Periwinkle needs shade if little to no water in summer

Grasses Or Grass Like:

Cortaderia ‘Sterile’ Pampas Grass- non-seeding variety, evergreen, 6′
Hesperaloe Red Yucca- cold hardy to 2′ tall and 4′ wide, red flowers in summer
Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass- CA. Native, semi-evergreen, 2’x 4′, taller blooms in fall
Nasella Needle Grass- CA. Native- evergreen with airy blooms early summer
Sisyrinchium Blue or Yellow Eyed Grass- Flowers in spring, blue or yellow varities