Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 26, 2013

From: Temecula, CA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant
Title: Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopefully there are some that flower and that attract butterflies. Thank you, Lilly

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita and Escondido has a guide to Easy Garden Design:  Dry Clay with an extensive list of plants.  Here are a few recommendations of various sizes:

Arctostaphylos manzanita (Whiteleaf manzanita) is evergreen and grows 6 to 12 feet in dry soils.

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush) grows to 1 to 3 feet in dry poor soils and is evergreen.

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) grows in dry soils up to4 to 8 feet high and wide and is evergreen.

Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy) is evergreen and grows 6 to 12 feet in dry rocky or clay soils.

Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea) is evergreen and grows to 3 feet in dry soils.

Penstemon heterophyllus (Bunchleaf penstemon) is a 1.5 feet evergreen that grows in dry soils.

Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade sumac) is evergreen and can grow to 8 feet.

Solanum umbelliferum (Bluewitch) is a rounded subshrub that grows 2 to 3 feet in dry soils.

Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert globemallow) is a perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet.

You can check out the other plants on the list on their web page and in our Native Plant Database (search by scientific name).

 

From the Image Gallery


Bigberry manzanita
Arctostaphylos glauca

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Mormon tea
Ephedra viridis

Bunchleaf penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus

Lemonade sumac
Rhus integrifolia

Bluewitch nightshade
Solanum umbelliferum

Desert globemallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua

More Drought Tolerant Questions

A Bounty of Edibles for New Braunfels Texas
October 25, 2013 - I was hoping you could suggest a few plants that would serve several purposes. I live in New Braunfels, TX and would like to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants which would support birds, but...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance of plants in area of Amarillo TX
March 24, 2013 - I want to know tolerance in the Amarillo area for Diospyros texana, Berberis trifoliata, and Capsicum annuum where it gets colder, is dry, and intensely hot in summer.
view the full question and answer

Can Habiturf be planted by hydroseeding from Austin?
February 04, 2012 - We are thinking about seeding our lawn with HABITURF. Could you provide any input on whether HABITURF can be planted by hydroseeding? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.