Selecting Drought-Tolerant Plants

Member Spotlight: This is a guest post by GrowIt! member Andrea Holtz. Andrea lives and gardens in California. Check out her take on low-cost, recycle-oriented, space-efficient container gardening by following Andrea (tap from mobile) on GrowIt! and checking out her blog GreenWise Gardening.


As a gardener on California’s Central Coast, I’ve been increasingly mindful of water conservation during the drought that my region has endured for the past few years.

While cacti and other succulents are popular drought-friendly options, I’m currently more interested in adding flowering shrubs and ornamental herbs to my cottage-style container garden.

I began by observing which plants were thriving around my neighborhood, then finding out if these varieties were indeed drought-friendly, and researching online for additional ideas. Local garden store employees were helpful in suggesting hardy, low-maintenance options.

There’s such a rainbow of choices when considering flowering plants with low water needs! These include Santa Barbara Daisies, Salvia, Red Valerian, Lavender, California Fuchsia, Penstemon, Chaparral Honeysuckle, Harvest Brodiaea, and Butterfly Bush.

Mediterranean herbs commonly used for cooking will also grow nicely in hot, dry climates. I’ve planted rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano, and sage.

Well-draining soil and full sun exposure are preferred conditions for my drought-tolerant plants. I’ve been using a blend of the local sedimentary soil and a moisture control potting mix, in containers with adequate drainage holes. This container garden gives me freedom to experiment: once I’ve determined which spots have the best sun exposure, I can move my pots and planter boxes around the yard.

All of my recent additions are doing great this spring; the color and variety they bring are as delightful as knowing that I have made sensible choices for our environment.