Some of the areas of Los Angeles are more extreme than others when it comes to climate extremes. These include the higher elevations and the inland areas of Los Angeles. Soils in these areas tend to be stony, dry and low on organic matter. Although many of the lush more tropical looking plants that do better along the coast will not fare so well in these areas, there are many tough plants that are colorful and showy. Here is a list of just some Los Angeles drought tolerant landscaping chaparral plants that will make your garden look lush and sparkle with color yet thrive in the more demanding areas of Los Angeles County.
Check out the large family of colorful Salvias (sages)
Try Salvia clevelandii ‘Winifred Gilman’ for a 3’ shrub with tiers of purple-blue flowers.
The Salvia chamaedryoides is a low growing sage with its soft grey foliage and bright blue flowers.
Look for the 2’ tall Salvia greggii smothered in pinks, reds or whites
More blues and purples can be found in the Teucreums (Germanders)
Teucreum fruticans azureum is a 3 – 4’ shrub with sky blue flowers that bloom in late winter.
Teucreum chamadrys and cussonii are lower growers with clusters of purple flowers
Penstemons offer a large family of flowering plants with spikes of varied colors, including bicolors, You can choose from California natives and glamorous hybrids.
Natives like Penstemon eatonii and P. centranthifolia bloom in bright orange-reds
Penstemon azureus flowers in blue, while the Penstemon Palmeri and pseudospectabilis are natives that bloom in pink.
Look for hybrid Penstemons just about any color.
Try Zauchnarias – recently renamed ‘Epilobium’—for hot red-orange flowers that contrast decoratively with their blue-gray foliage.
Don’t forget the versatile Rosemaries that now come in blues and pinks. Some scramble along the ground while others can grow into spreading shrubs.
Plant Lavenders that offer different sizes, shapes and flower colors with varieties like English, French and Spanish.
Try one of the many yellow daisies like the Coreopsis, the Acton Daisy or the California native, the Chocolate Daisy.
And then there are all those interesting colorful ornamental grasses. Consider the highly drought-tolerant and decorative Muhlenbergia family.
Muhlenbergia capilaris blooms with feathery pink inflorescences in the autumn that look like pink fairy dust.
Muhlenbergia dumosa, grows like thin shoots of bamboo.
Muhlenbergia rigens, commonly known as Deergrass is probably the toughest ornamental grass you’ll find anywhere.
Look for smaller decorative grasses that can take high heat and dry soil like Festuca ovata glauca or an Elymus for blue foliage.
For a deep burgundy color, plant the Penstemmon rubrum — the easy-to-grow Red Fountain Grass.
So don’t think that just because you live in the more extreme chaparral or desert type environments you can’t have a stunning, colorful garden. There are many more showy, drought tolerant landscaping chaparral plants you can grow in your demanding Los Angeles area gardens. There are even ways to make lawn areas water-wise by choosing to use lawns only in areas where they have a useful function and by selecting one of the low-water types of grass.