Drought-Tolerant California Flowering Plants

Gardens in hot, dry areas of California will benefit from the addition of drought-tolerant plants. Using plants that tolerate dry conditions not only encourages a successful garden, but also saves water, money and time. Gardeners can choose from a variety of native drought-tolerant plants that feature attractive flowers.

California Poppy

The stems of California poppy bear feathery, bluish-green leaves. Also known as Eschscholzia californica, this annual reaches 1 to 2 feet tall. Four-petaled flowers close at night and on cloudy days. Flowers range in color from dark orange to pale yellow. The California poppy prefers well-drained soil and full sun. Although drought tolerant, occasional watering can encourage a longer blooming period.

Whiteleaf Manzanita

Whiteleaf manzanita, or Arctostaphylos manzanita, features smooth, reddish-brown bark on twisted branches. The branches grow near the base of the tree and reach up to 12 feet tall. Pink or white bell-shaped flowers bloom in early spring, appearing among bright green leaves. White berries turn red with age and attract birds. Plant whiteleaf manzanita in partial shade or full sun.

Yellow Bush Lupine

The shrubby perennial known as yellow bush lupine, or Lupinus arboreus, grows to 5 feet tall. The short branches bear dark green, silky leaves and yellow flowers bloom on long spikes. The flowers attract hummingbirds and occasionally bloom in blue or lilac instead of yellow. Native to coastal areas of California, yellow bush lupine prefers poor, sandy soil and full sun.

Showy Penstemon

Penstemon spectabilis, commonly known as showy penstemon, has leafy stems that reach 3 feet high. Lavender or pink flowers bloom above bright green, jagged-edged foliage. One plant can support as many as 100 tubular flowers. Provide showy penstemon with full sun and rocky soil. Over-watering often leads to root rot in this drought-tolerant plant.

Coastal Tidytips

Light green, fuzzy leaves grow from the branching succulent stems of coastal tidytips. Also known as Layia platyglossa, this annual plant blooms with daisy-like yellow flowers. The flowers feature white tips and a deep yellow, raised center. It grows wild in the grassy coastal areas of California and enjoys poor, sandy loam and full sun.

Bush Anemone

The evergreen shrub Carpenteria californica, commonly known as bush anemone, grows between 4 and 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. White flowers with yellow stamens bloom out from the dark green, shiny leaves in the spring. Bush anemone performs well in shade or sun and rocky soil. Over-watering and fertilizing can cause this shrub to grow profusely and overtake an area.

Scarlet Larkspur

Native to the coastal mountains of California, scarlet larkspur, or Delphinium cardinale, grows up to 5 feet tall. This perennial blooms with open clusters of red flowers along the stems. The brightly colored flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant scarlet larkspur in full sun or partial shade.

Keywords: drought tolerant plants, california poppy, whiteleaf manzanita, showy penstemon, scarlet larkspur, yellow bush lupine

About this Author

Prior to pursuing writing full-time, Melissa Martin researched and edited books on teamwork and negotiation. She has worked as a ghostwriter for a number of websites and her current work appears on eHow.com, covering topics such as gardening, animals and the environment. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa.