Shine with 5 Rainy Day Natives

drought tolerant natives also deliver surfer safety in a deluge

January 15, 2017. By Cassy Aoyagi:  We usually encourage exchanging wet-loving plants for those that like it dry, but there are exceptions to every rule.  These California native beauties can handle deluge after deluge just as beautifully as they manage drought – and protect our groundwater and oceans with every drink they take.

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The agave in the foreground received standing ovations for drought tolerance, but you’ll see his downside in a deluge. We think deep green, architectural Juncus  deserves to be LA’s leading man moving forward.

Juncus spent millennia learning how to combat every move of California’s ever-shifting climate. He sings in the rain and drought as well. Supremely competent, Juncus also delivers a daring deep green and charming edited aesthetic ideal for modern gardens.

Oregon Grape

Vitis californica offers a great alternative to traditional grapes as a drought tolerant edible.

It is Oregon Grape however, also native to California, that helps us go the distance to protect the coast.  It’s glossy holly-like leaves brighten any garden and add fall color in California’s dry years.  In rain, it adapts to manage more water – just as it did to establish itself from Oregon to Southern California.


You know Yarrow’s super-hero strength as a low water, low maintenance IdealMow lawn.  Did you also know it does an excellent job absorbing and cleaning stormwater?

We love using Yarrow in beach-adjacent gardens like a beautifully restored Santa Monica farmhouse and the Shotgun Coast Garden. Pop by and see it in action!

Hummingbird Sage

The “It” girl of drought-depressed 2015, Hummingbird Sage continues to charm new audiences. Sure, she brings greenery, spectacular wands of magenta or peach blooms, and an intoxicating fragrance in drought – a great exchange for any traditional bloom.

Sometimes when you do something so well, people keep you from showing the rest of your skill set. We hope Hummingbird sage doesn’t get drought type-cast. She deserves accolades for her work as the protector of the surf and cleaner of soils.

You may catch her rehearsing this role on shady slopes in our hills. She’s also giving brilliant rainy season performances in the bioswales at Descanso Gardens and the Authentic Foothill Gardens.

Ribes Malvaceum

Ribes delicate pink blooms (below) look more like whimsical Wisteria than any bloom promoted as drought tolerant. Which begs the question: Why sacrifice? Get those fairytale blooms, that lush greenery, and save some water!