Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Wednesday - August 08, 2012

From: Tujunga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for clay soil in Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Southern California and have hard packed clay soil in my yard. Could you recommend ground cover that would be green, low to the ground, require little water and survive in clay? I can't afford heavy watering or would plant a lawn.

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery (with nurseries in Santa Margarita and Escondido, California) has a page with the title "Some of the California native plants that can be used as less than a foot high ground cover".  Here are some suggestions from that page—you can find other possibilities there as well:

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) is very drought tolerant and Las Pilitas has a Dwarf Coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis pilularis Pigeon Point) that grows to a foot high.

California Buckwheat plants (there are many) are also a good possibility.   They are very drought tolerant and maintain their flowers for long periods.  In particular, take a look at Eriogonum fasiculatum polifolium (Interior California Buckwheat) and Eriogonum grande rubescens (Red buckwheat) and you can see photos and more information from San Marcos Growers.com.

Salvia sonomensis Farmar-Bower (Golden creeping sage) grows well in clay.

Artemisia californica Canyon Gray (Trailing sagebrush) is very drought tolerant, grows to 1 foot high and tolerates clay soil.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium



Creeping sage
Salvia sonomensis

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Salt tolerant plants for Long Beach
May 12, 2013 - When Hurricane Sandy hit Long Beach, it has killed all my plants and now almost all of Long Beach is left with dead dried brown vegetation. I want to replant front with bushes and flowers. What woul...
view the full question and answer

Antelope Resistant Plants for Casper, Wyoming
August 12, 2011 - What are some drought resistant, full-sun plants for Wyoming that are Antelope resistant - Deer are not much of a problem, but antelope are!
view the full question and answer

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant plants for IN
August 23, 2011 - What are some plants that would do well in an east facing area near my front door? I live in Indianapolis IN. I need something that is drought resistant and will fill in a 4x3 foot walled off area th...
view the full question and answer

Native Perennials for Dry Shade in NM
July 06, 2016 - I live in Edgewood, NM at an elevation of about 7,200 ft. It is very dry here and it can get below zero (rarely) in the winter. I have some areas under cedar trees where I have had difficulty gettin...
view the full question and answer

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