En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 09, 2012

From: San Diego, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Drought-tolerant trees for planters in San Diego
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We need some ideas for a drought tolerant tree that will provide shade (4 foot raised planters in sunny location) not get too big when mature, and not too messy. San Diego


Here are some suggestions for San Diego native small trees/large shrubs that are drought tolerant and should do well in your large planters:

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (Birch-leaf mountain-mahogany) is evergreen and grows to about 15 feet.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from the Theodore Payne Foundation under its synonym, Cercocarpus betuloides.

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow) is deciduous and here are descriptions from Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita and from the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Comarostaphylis diversifolia (Summer holly)  is evergreen and is a slow-grower to 20 feet.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) is evergreen and usually grows to 6 or 8 feet but can grow as high as 20 feet.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Malosma laurina (Laurel sumac)  is evergreen and can grow to 18 feet.   Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and the Theodore Payne Foundation.



From the Image Gallery

Smooth mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Summer holly
Comarostaphylis diversifolia

Heteromeles arbutifolia

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Fast-growing drought-resistant hedge for California
September 03, 2013 - We're looking for a fast growing, drought resistant shrub that will grow in clay soil and can be used for a hedge around our property.
view the full question and answer

Native Plant for a Sunny South-facing House Wall in Tucson
March 01, 2014 - I have a problematic block wall on the south side of the house and I what a plant to soften the look of the wall. I tried butterfly bush which I'm told died from of bounce-back heat from the wall. I ...
view the full question and answer

Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
April 22, 2013 - I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for...
view the full question and answer

2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
September 29, 2011 - What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 20...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for North Central Texas
May 27, 2014 - I have a very large area that is in Palo Pinto County, Texas. We tried to plant grass but it never established. I'm looking for a ground cover that does well in shade (lots of oak tees) and is semi d...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center