Drought-Tolerant Native California Plants

The state of California is boasts tremendous geographical diversity, from the coastal mountains of Big Sur to the enormous redwood forests of Northern California and the blistering Death Valley desert. California is known for having its fair share of sunshine and heat, so gardeners will have little trouble finding drought-tolerant plants that are native to California.

California Poppy

The state flower of California, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a hardy annual that grows freely throughout dry areas in California and along the west coast. The brightly colored poppy is notable for its orange, cup-shaped flowers and for its wispy, lacy gray-green foliage. The plant is generally about a foot high, though it may grow taller. California poppies will positively flourish in full, all-day sunlight in USDA zones 5 all the way to 10. The drought-tolerant native plant prefers a very well-draining, sandy or rocky soil that is kept dry. California poppies will usually do better if left to their own devices, undisturbed by the gardener.

Desert Ruellia

A native of the deserts of Southern California, desert ruellia (Eschscholzia californica) is a flowering shrub that reaches an average height of between 3 to 6 feet tall. Desert ruellia sports rich green foliage accentuated by showy, brilliant royal purple blooms, which are similar in appearance to petunias. The flowers appear throughout late spring and early summer. Desert ruellia is a warm-weather lover that must be grown in full sunlight in USDA zones 9 to 11 in order to thrive. A well-draining soil is best for this plant. Desert ruellia requires very little water—too much water may subject the plant to root rot and eventually, death.

California Fuschia

California fuschia (Zauschneria californica ssp. latifolia) is a flowering shrub that can be found in the wild and in gardens throughout western North America, including California. The plant is on the small side, reaching an average height of between 1 to 3 feet. California fuschia is a late bloomer, producing tubular orange or red flowerings throughout the late summer and well into autumn. The leaves of the plant are a dusty gray green. California fuschia is excellent as a naturalizing border plant or bedding plant in USDA zones 5 to 9. The plant is both deer-tolerant and drought-tolerant, and requires no supplemental watering. Plant California fuschia in just about any soil in full sunlight or very light shade.

Keywords: drought tolerant, native plants, California plants

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.