California has a diverse geography, featuring coastal regions, mountains and deserts, but according to the USDA Growing Zones Map, most of the state falls into growing Zone 9 with small portions in Zone 8. The state has low humidity and limited rainfall, but in general, the soil is rich and it is among the largest farming states in the U.S. Many plants grow well in California, including succulents, tropicals and evergreen shrubs. Among the more popular are agave, bird of paradise and lavender.
Agave (Agave) is a succulent that is popular in all parts of California. Among the more well-known varieties are the Century Plant (Agave Americana), which is hardy in most California zones and has leaves that are up to 6 feet long and spiky, according to Succulent-Plant.com. It's blue-green in color and produces a tall flower stalk with yellow blooms after 10 years. Another variety that is hardy throughout the state is the Agave victoriae-reginae, which is a small, clumping plant that has stiff, dark green leaves with white pinstripes. This variety also does well in pots. Agave is generally slow growing, thrives in full sun to partial shade and requires moderate to little water.
Bird of Paradise
Popular in California's southern coastal regions, the bird of paradise (Strelitzia) is a unique, showy evergreen plant with orange and purple blooms that resemble birds. Both the standard-sized (Strelitzia reginae) and giant (Strelitzia nicolai) species perform well in the temperate climate. The giant bird of paradise has a white and purple flower. Leaves grow on individual stems and may be 1-1/2 feet long on a standard plant or up to 10 feet long on a giant plant. The stems are stiff and leaves grow tightly rolled before unfurling when mature. Birds of paradise, which thrive in full sun with regular water, are long-lasting as cut flowers.
Native to the Mediterranean region, lavender is ubiquitous in southern California. An evergreen shrub with fragrant flowers, lavender is easy to care for, as long as it is planted in full sun and receives moderate water. Lavender cannot survive in humid climates, so it should be planted in cooler, coastal areas. English lavender (Lavandua angustifolia) is the hardiest of the species and the most widely grown, according to the 1997 Sunset National Garden Book. English lavender is used in sachets and perfumes.