Red Valerian
Jupiter’s Beard
Centranthus ruber

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 1-2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug), Fall
    (Sept – Nov)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region,
    North Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

The lush nature of Red Valerian will fool you with it contrasting assets: drought-tolerance, frost-tolerance, minimal water needs, resistance to rabbits and deer, and tolerance of poor soils. This tough, fast-growing sub-shrub is long blooming, attracts butterflies, has fragrant flowers and foliage, is useful for erosion control, and makes great cut-flower bouquets. Why isn’t it in your yard?

Red Valerian, also known as Jupiter’s Beard, is a moderately fast-growing, erect sub-shrub that is not fussy about its growing conditions.  Showy, rose-red flowers appear continuously from late spring through summer and even into fall. The cultivar ‘coccineus’ is especially long-blooming. This tough, drought-tolerant plant tolerates poor soils and thrives with minimal water and care once established. Reasons to love this woody-based, evergreen perennial include its resistance to rabbits and deer, fragrant flowers and foliage, its almost nonstop blooming, its attraction for butterflies, its use for cut flowers, and erosion control because it can naturalize when happy on a site. Its brilliant flowers are small but profuse. Provide deep but infrequent watering, but don’t overwater established plants. Cut plants back in mid-spring. Valued in cottage gardens, over stone walls, on slopes or banks to prevent erosion, in borders, or as a colorful groundcover.  Good for cut flower bouquets.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for February

Lace Aloe
Torch Plant
Aloe aristata

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 0.8-1 ft. tall x 1-2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (May), Summer (June – Aug)
  • Native to: South Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Looking for a unique succulent to accent your cactus or succulent garden, rock garden, or patio pots? Here is an interesting option that is also extremely drought tolerant, long living, low maintenance, and attractive to hummingbirds when in flower. It looks like an artist got involved in the patterns on the leaves, which contrast nicely with the foliage of companion plants.

Lace Aloe is a dwarf succulent species perfect for edging, ground covers, or in pots. It only asks for well-draining soil and not too much water, especially in hot summers, needing watering only 2 to 4 times a month. Reduce watering in cool winter months. Fleshy leaves retain water and allow this plant to easily survive drought. Its succulent leaves are covered in small, white tubercles organized in lines, which contrast nicely with the foliage of other succulents. Long, tubular coral flowers form on tall stalks every year in late spring and summer, attracting hummingbirds. This easy-to-grow aloe can live 50 to 100 years if maintained properly. Lace Aloe can be easily propagated by separating offsets with their roots in early summer. Lace Aloe is beautiful in succulent and cactus gardens, dry borders, rock gardens, living walls, hummingbird gardens, fire-wise gardens, and in well-draining pots as a great patio plant.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for January

Fouquieria splendens


  • Plant Form: Deciduous succulent shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 8-20 ft. tall x 5-10 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug)
  • Native to: Southern California, southwest US, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-10°F

Do you need a striking accent plant for your yard, or a living sculptural shape to light up at night against a wall for interesting shadows? Ocotillo is waiting for your discovery. This extremely water-wise, drought-tolerant California native plant produces orange-red flowers that hummingbirds and orioles can’t resist…and that will make your yard pop with vibrant color from spring to summer.

Ocotillo is an iconic symbol of the southwest that forms a vase-shaped shrub with up to 100 wand-like, thorny stems that radiate from the crown. Small, oval, fleshy leaves appear after rain, persisting for weeks or even months, then fall off during drought. Bright orange-red, tubular flowers form on the tips of each cane that attract hummingbirds and orioles in late spring and early summer. While bare-root plants are available from nurseries, potted plants are more reliable (always check for legal tags and permits). Water newly-planted ocotillos frequently by lightly spraying the canes from top to bottom during summer months. No added water is needed once established, but leaves can be retained by watering twice a month over the summer. Ocotillo is stunning as an accent, especially when lit up in front of a wall, or for interesting vertical structure as a specimen, in beds and borders, hummingbird and bird gardens, or as an impenetrable hedge.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for December

Desert Broom, Broom Baccharis
Baccharis sarothroides

  • Plant Form: Semi-deciduous shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 6-12 ft. tall x 6-7 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August), Fall (September – October)
  • Native to: Southern California, southwest US, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Looking for a fast-growing privacy screen or hedge that takes almost no water? This could be your plant! This water-wise, drought-tolerant California native plant looks green all year, and can be trimmed to almost any height you want, from 2-3 feet tall up to 12 feet high.

Desert Broom has branches that are so green, you won’t notice that it drops its small, narrow leaves during drought, making this rounded shrub look like a giant, green broom. This fast-growing, bright green shrub provides great cover for birds and wildlife in naturalistic landscapes, and can create an extremely low-water-use privacy screen or hedge. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. Tolerant of sun, heat, cold, poor soils, and drought, this easy-to-grow California native has only one possible fault: prolific fluffy seeds from female plants. Ask for male plants to prevent unwanted seedlings.  Prune in fall to shape and refresh for an improved appearance. While plants may grow 6-7 feet tall (even up to 12 feet), they can be clipped to 2-3 feet. Desert Broom is useful for bank and slope stabilization, erosion control, privacy screens, hedges, windbreaks, and barriers, as well as in habitat restoration, butterfly, bee, and bird gardens, and in cottage and Mediterranean gardens.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for November

Desert Wild Grape
Vitis girdiana

  • Plant Form: Deciduous vine
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 10-30 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Southern California, California Channel Islands
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

If you are looking for a shade-producing, heat-tolerant, cold-tolerant, fast-growing vine, this is your answer. Desert Wild Grape uses curling tendrils to attach itself to an arbor, ramada, trellis, or fence, and produces small but edible grapes, more filling for birds than humans.

Desert Wild Grape is a fast-growing, deciduous vine that produces small but edible black grapes for birds and people. The silvery-green foliage turns color and drops in winter, but the persistent tendrils remain wrapped around structures it has climbed onto for support. This southern California native is very easy to grow, is heat tolerant, and is a great bird plant for all berry-eating birds of summer. After it becomes established, water deeply just once a month. Prune in winter when it is leafless to train its shape; in spring and summer you may prune any wayward stems at any time. Desert Grape is wonderful on shade structures like arbors, ramadas, or pergolas to create a cool, shady, summer retreat in western gardens. Train to grow up a trellis, fence, arbor, or wall for summer shade, or allow to grow as a groundcover.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for October

Deer Grass
Muhlenbergia rigens

  • Plant Form: Ornamental Grass
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2-6 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

This fast-growing, low-maintenance, California native bunchgrass fits beautifully into so many landscapes, from walkways, road edges and medians to rock gardens and wall toppers, where it gracefully droops over ledges.

Deer Grass is an adaptable, large bunch grass with blue-green foliage that softens desert landscapes wherever it is planted. Fast-growing, it typically reaches mature size in one or two years, with leaves reaching lengths of three feet, and flowering stalks reaching up to five feet. It is one of the most beautiful and easiest to grow of all the native California bunchgrasses. Once mature, it needs no supplemental water, but providing summer water will keep its foliage lush. Cut back in late winter for vigorous spring growth, or leave natural for wildlife cover. Deer Grass gets its common name not from deer preferring its foliage as a browse plant, but because deer like to lay on mounds of the grass. Native Americans prized this plant for the long stems of its inflorescence, which they used in their basketry. Deer Grass is versatile as an accent, grouped as a groundcover, in rock gardens, along walkways and roads, or to droop over walls.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for September