Top 10 Drought-Tolerant Plants for the South Bay

Want to update your garden with drought-friendly plants?  Perhaps you want some California natives that will make garden maintenance easier for you.  Here’s a list of our favorite drought-tolerant plants that will thrive in the Bay Area on very little water (and work).

  1. Yarrow
    With while flower clusters and feather-like leaves, yarrow is a lovely addition to any garden. You may also find pink and yellow flowers. Named after Achilles, (botanical name: Achillea millefolium), yarrow was used to heal wounds on the battle field.

    yarrow white
  2. Blue-eyed Grass
    This beauty has vibrant blue flowers and small, iris-like leaves. Though not actually a grass, she is part of the iris family and only grows up to 1 foot tall. She handles competition in the garden well and spreads via underground rhizomes.  Want to attract bees?  Plant some of these.

    blueeyegrass more
    Blue-eyed Grass
  3. California Fuchsia Epilobium
    A hummingbird and butterfly favorite, it’s tubular flowers range from white, pink, orange to red.  When many natives go dormant in the summer, she is in full bloom!  Epilobium will happily grow in most California gardens without any additional water.

    California Fuchsia
  4. Yerba Buena
    A creeping ground cover spreading up to 3 feet, it produces tiny white flowers.  It smells great and makes a wonderful minty tea.

    YerbaBuena flower
    Yerba Buena
  5. Milkweed
    Producing beautiful flower clusters, milkweed is a butterfly host plant, so if you want to attract monarchs to your garden, these are a great drought-tolerant option.

  6. Manzanita
    Manzanitas can grow up to twenty feet tall and are known for their smooth red or mahogany bark. Their flowers resemble urns and can be white to pink in color. Manzanitas look great year round and stay healthy and vibrant even in the hottest months.

    manzanita flower
  7. Ceanothus
    Also known as ‘California lilac’, Ceanothus’ are incredibly fragrant, colorful shrubs. Their flowers are primarily blue and come in a wide variety of shades. They are evergreen, very drought tolerant and make a great hedge. Deer love them, too.

  8. Monkey flower
    Evergreen shrubs ~4 feet tall with prolific orange-yellow flowers in spring and summer. A California native that attracts hummingbirds, it supposedly gets its name because flowers looks like a smiling monkey (we can’t see it – can you?)

    monkey flower
    Monkey Flower
  9. White sage
    The leaves of this sage start out wrinkly and grey-green, then turn in to a beautiful, smooth white. It doesn’t need any extra water after it’s first year. The dried leaves have been used in the Native American culture (and more broadly in recent years), burned in ceremony as a smudge.

    white sage
    White Sage
  10. Gooseberry
    While the plant may be spiny, the tasty berries it produces will more than make up for it.  Both you and the birds will love them.  Trespassers, not so much.

    gooseberry closeup


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