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 - 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
Solanum umbelliferum

Desert globemallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Raingarden Plants for Brownsville, TX
March 14, 2014 - I'm a Landscape Architect in South Texas and I'm implementing raingardens and vegetated swales in my projects. What native plants could be used in these gardens/water runways. They would need to res...
view the full question and answer

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Shade loving plants with color for Irving, Texas
July 01, 2010 - Looking for shade loving perennials or annuals with color - native and low water. Live in Irving, Texas.
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