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?

Share

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 - July 18, 2013

From: San Jose, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Wildflowers
Title: Drought Tolerant Shrubs and Perennials in San Jose, CA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Hello I am a SLT home owner in San Jose, Ca. and want to plant drought tolerant shrubs and perennials. We don't have irrigation but plan to put a timer on a nozzle and run some lines. At least I am told we are able to do this. What are some shrubs that are indigenous to our area and grow in part sun/shade? To beautify the area I plan to purchase some boulders to complement the area as well.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: California, Habit (shrub or herb), Duration – Perennial, light requirement (part shade and shade), soil moisture (dry).  You can narrow down this search further by indicating blooming time, blooming color and height specifics.
Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of fewer plants. 
Some of the shrubs to consider are:
Atriplex canescens (chamiso)

Ceanothus velutinus (snowbrush)

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume)

Forestiera pubescens (stretchberry)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

And some perennials to consider are:
Anaphalis margaritacea (Western pearly everlasting)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis)

Eriophyllum confertiflorum (golden yarrow)

Geum triflorum (old man’s whiskers)

Glandularia bipinnatifida (purple prairie verbena)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Chamiso
Atriplex canescens

Snowbrush
Ceanothus velutinus

Apache plume
Fallugia paradoxa

Stretchberry
Forestiera pubescens

Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Golden yarrow
Eriophyllum confertiflorum

Old man's whiskers
Geum triflorum

Purple prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida

More Shrubs Questions

Draought-tolerant screening shrub for Shasta County, California
July 08, 2015 - It has been suggested to me that I plant phodocarpus 'maki' along my fence for needed privacy due to it's dimensions. I need something that does not grow too wide. I would not be pruning them as I ...
view the full question and answer

Preventing weeds in kinnikinnick in Richland WA
May 29, 2011 - We planted our kinnickinick last Nov. and we live in Richland, WA, where it gets hot in the summer. We planted almost 500 of them on a hillside. Weeding is taking over our lives, to say the least. ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
September 16, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
June 24, 2013 - When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for northwest-facing wall
June 09, 2012 - Can you suggest a tall (8-10') evergreen shrub for a site against a northwest-facing wall which gets no sun in the winter but full sun in the summer? Texas sage got too leggy and viburnum will be to...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center