Many Californian landscapes and gardens that were once lush and verdant have been suffering lately, due to the prolonged period of drought currently plaguing The Golden State. With strict water restrictions implemented statewide, gardeners are realizing that water wise gardening and xeriscaping is the way to go. However, your garden need not look like a barren plot of gravel with sparsely planted cacti—unless that is the look you are going for. A trip to a nursery and garden center in San Jose should expose you to a plethora of beautiful, drought-tolerant plants.
Cacti and Succulents
The standard go-to plants for arid or water-wise landscapes, cacti and succulents come in thousands of species that occur in myriad shapes, sizes, and colors. This means that you do not have to settle for a something bland, stereotypical, or boring. For example, the round shape of a golden barrel cactus ( Echinocactus grusoni) adds visual interest to any garden. Another pleasingly shaped cactus is the prickly pear cactus ( Opuntia species). Sempervivums, or hen and chicks ( Sempervivum species), are attractive succulents that make great groundcovers or rock-wall fillers, as well as the darling stonecrops ( Sedum spirium). Looking for a statement piece? Consider planting the iconic Sonoran Desert saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea). Or try an agave or a yucca—both plant genera include gorgeous garden specimens whose lance-like leaves and eye-popping inflorescences are guaranteed to be conversation starters.
Add height and movement to your xeriscaping by using clump-forming, ornamental grasses. Mexican feather grass ( Nassella tenuissima) is a lovely plant with delicate, wispy leaves. Another attractive grass is blue fescue ( Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’), which is a low grower with beautiful, powder blue blades. Other great choices are: blue oat grass ( Helictotrichon sempervirens), maiden grass ( Miscanthus sinensis), and oriental fountain grass ( Pennisetum orientale).
The native plant movement is growing stronger each year, and for good reason. Native plants only occur in specific regions and, therefore, are genetically and culturally adapted to survive in those regions. That means that native plants are naturally drought tolerant in arid areas or in ones with seasonal dry spells. Consult with your nursery and garden center to find out which plants are indigenous to your city.