Hardy Outdoor Plants

vja4him(z8 CA)May 20, 2009

I need some help choosing hardy outside plants for my flower beds and garden. We have no shade, and live in garden Zone #14, Modesto, California, which allows gardening all year. Temperatures have already hit triple digit! I have two flower beds that face the south, and one that faces the north. Yearly low temperatures are usually around 28 degrees F. Usually warms up by sunrise. I have seen the temperature drop down to 22 degrees one year. Highs have reached 118 degrees F.

So far, Ive had good success with some kind of (unknown) prickly fern (very nasty thorns, similar to rose thorns!), which survives even the coldest winters, high winds, and the hottest summers (full sun); geraniums in the full sun (four different kinds), several (unknown) cacti, greens (many kinds). Jades get sunburned so bad, that IÂve had to bring them inside permenantly. Also had to bring in my JosephÂs Coat.

My Bunny Ears also do much better inside. IÂve kept some inside (doing very nicely!), and several outside -- trying to place them under shelves, where they only get about three hours of sun in the morning, and another three hours sun in the afternoon. The Bunny Ears outside are not doing as well as the ones inside, but they are surviving better than the JosephÂs Coat that are outside (potted together with the Bunny Ears in containers).

Several Chain Plants have done well in the heat, but IÂve put them in the flower beds (in pots so I can move them around) that face the north, so they donÂt get sun all day (for now). They get a few hours of sun in the morning, and another few hours in the afternoon. They still do much better inside though. I have some inside too.

My Aspargus Fern that is outside is doing very well in the sweltering heat! WasnÂt sure if it would make it, but has survived temperatures of at least 114 degrees F. this year. My other one inside is not doing so well.

I'd like to have flowers blooming year around, succulents, cacti, and ground covers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

- Riding 4 Life


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi there,

Asparagus ferns are fabulous plants that just about everyone in California has at one point planted in the ground and then regretted.

I don't regret mine. I live in a similar climate, and I use sprenger asparagus ferns quite a bit, in addition to the other three varieties that are found at the local nurseries. The nasty fern with thorns that you grow is probably a climbing asparagus fern, and I also grow the "foxtail" variety and the very tall spiky variety. I love the lush appearance, the low water requirements, and the heat tolerance of these plants.

Nandina is another tried and true lush looking, heat tolerant plant, at least it is here. Rhaphiolepis (sp) or Indian Hawthorne can usually take the heat and you can get it in bright pink. There are a few daylilies that grow in the heat. Take a look at the flowers grown by Greenwood in Somis. They say which ones can survive heat.

I have good luck with the succulent blue senecio groundcover. It has not yet cooked in the sun like the jade plants and the echeverrias.

Santa Barbara daisies might do well for you in the spring. They are finished by late spring for me.

Agaves and yuccas can both take the heat. Both have lovely blooms and attract hummingbirds. An added bonus: they reproduce quickly, so you can buy just a few plants and have a gorgeous bed in a short period of time. I find Aloes to be a bit trickier because the varieties I have planted burn in direct sun and the leaves turn brown at the ends if I don't water them enough.

You can also check over in Arizona Gardening.

Have you considered planting some trees?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 4:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Sunset Western Garden Book lists hundreds -- probably thousands -- of plants for Zone 14.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

Thanks Renee for sharing your success story! I looked through quite a few gardening books, but it is absolutely overwhelming! I don't have enough money to experiment with buying hundreds of plants, and spending thousands of dollars. I only have a very limited amount of funds to spend on gardening, so I need to be very careful. I will buy some of the plants you mentioned, probably only one or two of each, and see what happens ....

I would really like to plant some trees, but the landlord doesn't want any trees on the property! I asked him why, but he wouldn't give me a reason. Our neighbor (same landlord) and I are going to ask the landlord again if we can plant some trees. We really do need the shade for ourselves!

I'm going to move my prickly fern into the ground. I think I'll be able to split it into three separate starts. I will work up the soil really good, and add lots of good potting soil mix. One of our neighbors has the same prickly fern planted in the ground, and it is huge! Probably at least five feet tall, and very bushy. That would provide some shade for a few small plants.

I'll be digging up the dirt along the front fence, on both sides, so I can start planting geranium cuttings, and hopefully some roses, and some kind of bulbs that will spread. Maybe I'll try some hollyhocks. I remember having those a long time ago at a different location. I'd like to have lots of wild flowers on the outside of the front fence, along with lots of plants with very sharp thorns, to hopefully keep the neighbor kids out!

Oh yes, I'm still waiting for lemon grass to arrive at the nursery. That has very sharp leaves, and should keep away the kids too! Makes great tea!

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Riding 4 Life:

Forgive my short answer. You had so many broad-stroke needs, I thought it best to suggest a book, the best book, on the subject so that yo can have a proper starting point. (By the way, the Sunset Western Garden Book would tell you that lemon grass is not hardy in Zone 14.)

Here's a semi-short list of proven plants for Zone 14. These will take your blinding sun, your hot summers and your cold winters.

Medium to Large Trees --

Cedrus deodara DEODAR CEDAR
Cedrus libanii atlantica ATLAS CEDAR
Gleditsia triacanthos inermis THORNLESS HONEY LOCUST
Pinus brutia/eldarica AFGHAN PINES
Platanus x acerifolia LONDON PLANE TREE
Zelkova serrata SAW-LEAF ZELKOVA

Small to Medium Trees --

Aesculus x carnea RED HORSECHESTNUT
Butia capitata BLUE PINDO PALM
Cercidium floridum BLUE PALO VERDE
Cercis siliquastrum JUDAS TREE
x Chitalpa tashkentensis CHILTALPA
Eucalyptus polyanthemos SILVER DOLLAR GUM
Juniperus scopulorum Tolleson's Blue Weeping BLUE WEEPING JUNIPER
Koelreuteria elegans FLAMEGOLD
Koelreuteria paniculata GOLDENRAIN TREE
Lagerstroemia (standard) CRAPE MYRTLES
Melia azedarach CHINA BERRY
Olea europaea OLIVE
Parkinsonia aculeata MEXICAN PALO VERDE
Pistacia chinensis CHINESE PISTACHE
Sophora japonica Regent JAPANESE PAGODA TREE
Trachycarpus fortunei WINDMILL PALM
Ziziphus jujuba JUJUBE, CHINESE DATE

Trees to create fast shade --

Acer truncatum SHANTUNG MAPLE
Gleditsia triacanthos inermis (esp. Shademaster, Skyline) HONEY LOCUST
Melia azedarach CHINA BERRY
Populus fremontii FREMONT COTTONWOOD
Pyrus calleryana (esp. Aristocrat, Bradford, Holmford, Trinity) CALLERY PEAR
Ulmus parvifolia CHINESE ELM
Zelkova serrata SAWLEAF ZELKOVA

Large Shrubs --

Acca (Feijoa) sellowiana PINEAPPLE GUAVA
Callistemon citrinus LEMON BOTTLEBRUSH
Dodonaea viscosa PURPLE HOPBUSH
Ilex x altaclarensis Wilsonii WILSON HOLLY
Juniperus (many) JUNIPERS
Punica granatum Legrellei, Nochi Shibori, Tanyosho ORNAMENTAL POMEGRANATES
Rhaphiolepis Majestic Beauty M. B. INDIAN HAWTHORNE
Vitex agnus-castus CHASTE TREE

Small to Medium Shrubs --

Abelia x grandiflora ABELIA
Leucophyllum frutescens TEXAS RANGER
Myrtus communis ROMAN MYRTLE
Nandina domestica HEAVENLY BAMBOO
Nerium oleander "Petite" series OLEANDER
Rosmarinus officinalis ROSEMARY
Senna (Cassia) artemisioides FEATHERY CASSIA
Senna wislizenii SHRUBBY SENNA
Teucrium fruticans BUSH GERMANDER

Twining Vines --

Akebia quinata FIVELEAF AKEBIA
Gelsemium sempervirens CAROLINA JESSAMINE
Muehlenbeckia complexa MATTRESS VINE, WIRE VINE
Solanum jasminoides WHITE POTATO VINE
Wisteria (many kinds) WISTERIA

Tendril Vines --
Vitis californica Rogers Red, Walker Ridge RED-LEAF CALIFORNIA GRAPE
Vitis coignetiae CRIMSON GLORY VINE
Vitis vinifera Purpurea PURPLE-LEAF GRAPE

Tendril-Clinging Vines --
* for wrapping onto small-mesh fencing or for "clinging" onto
any very rough surface

Bignonia capreolata CROSSVINE
Campsis x tagliabuana* TRUMPET CREEPER
Macfadyena unguis-cati* CATS-CLAW

Disk-Clinging Vines --

Parthenocissus henryana SILVERVEIN CREEPER
Parthenocissus quinquefolia VIRGINIA CREEPER
Parthenocissus tricuspidata BOSTON IVY

Clambering/Scrambling Vines --

Rosa banksiae LADY BANKS ROSE
Rosa Cecile Brunner SWEETHEART ROSE
Rosa x Mermaid MERMAID ROSE
Rosa Absolutely, Jeanne Lajoie, Nozomi Red Cascade, Work of Art MINIATURE CLIMBING ROSES

Ground Covers --

Baccharis pilularis Twin Peaks TRAILING COYOTE BRUSH
Gazania rigens leucolaena GAZANIA
Juniperus horizontalis Wiltonii BLUE CARPET JUNIPER
Rosmarinus officinalis (trailing types) CREEPING ROSEMARY
Trachelospermum asiaticum ASIATIC JESSAMINE


Achillea Moonshine MOONSHINE YARROW
Achillea fillipendulina WOOLY YARROW
Achillea hybrids HYBRID YARROWS
Agastache aurantiaca ORANGE HYSSOP-MINT
Agastache hybrids (many) HYBRID HYSSOP-MINTS
Agastache rupestris SUNSET HYSSOP
Artemisia Powis Castle WORMWOOD
Dasylirion wheeleri DESERT SPOON
Dasylirion wheeleri DESERT SPOON
Euphorbia characias wulfenii CHARTREUSE EUPHORBIA
Euphorbia myrsinites BLUE EUPHORBIA
Euphorbia x martinii RED EUPHORBIA
Helianthemum nummularium SUN ROSE
Helictotrichon sempervirens BLUE OAT GRASS
Hemerocallis DAYLILIES
Hesperaloe parviflora RED YUCCA
Muhlenbergia dumosa BAMBOO MUHLY
Nepeta Six Hills Giant GIANT CATMINT
Nepeta racemosa Walkers Low CATMINT
Nepeta x faassenii CATMINT
Opuntia violacea santa-rita BLUE-BLADE
Penstemon palmeri PALMER BEARDTONGUE
Penstemon pseudospectabilis DESERT BEARDTONGUE
Phlomis russeliana HARDY JERUSALEM-SAGE
Phygelius hybrids CAPE FUCHSIA
Pyrethropsis hosmariense MT. ATLAS DAISY
Salvia chamaedryoides GERMANDER SAGE
Stachys albotomentosa HIDALGO
Verbena tenuisecta MOSS VERBENA

As for barrier (thorny) plants:

Agave parryi, shawii SMALLER AGAVES
Berberis buxifolia MAGELLAN BARBERRY
Berberis darwinii DARWIN BARBERRY
Berberis nevinii NEVIN'S BARBERRY
Chaenomeles (tall types) FLOWERING QUINCE
Ilex x altaclarensis Wilsoni WILSONS HOLLY
Opuntia ficus-indica PRICKLY PEAR
Pyracantha (many) FIRETHORN
Rosa laevigata CHEROKEE ROSE
Rose "Simplicity" Series SIMPLICITY ROSE
Rose Pearl Sevillana (shrub; semi-double pearly white/cream)
Rosa californica Elsie (native; single magenta-pink)
Rose Wildberry Breeze (hybrid rugosa; mauve blend)
Rose Wild Spice (rugosa hybrid; single white/blush)
Ziziphus jujuba JUJUBE, CHINESE DATE


    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

There are varying degrees of Zone #14. Many people all around town grow Lemon Grass in our area, and the stuff grows just fine! I've grown Lemon Grass myself here in Modesto, and it grew just fine.

Believe it or not, some people have actually been successful at growing bananas here in Modesto! And Stockton! One of our good friends showed us his banana trees in Stockton, with good fruit!

I met an elderly gentleman who grows guavas here in Modesto. Haven't seen too many of those around here ....

Thanks for the comprehensive list. I have no idea what to choose from the list ....

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 8:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

Thanks Joe for the list! I've copied down some of the plants to take with me to the nursery this weekend. The landlord doesn't want any trees or vines, so that shortens the list some.

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 9:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi there vjandrews,

Joe has the stuff, huh? He is the guru.

I was thinking, since you are renting, you may want to stick to the really cheap plants that reproduce well. You should also check out cheapseeds.com for wildflowers.

If you email me, I'll send you some cosmos "Bright Lights" seeds and some amaranthus. You can plant them both now and you will get flowers this summer. Morning glories are vines, but they are annual vines, so maybe your landlord will let you plant them. They will die this winter.

Other annuals that are wonderful performers are Larkspur, the prettiest and easiest flowers in my garden, red flax, California poppies, and bachelor buttons. These seeds should be planted in the late fall or early winter so they spring up in March when the weather warms up. All of these annuals produce seeds in abundance that you can collect and use the next year.

As far as perennial plants with color, I just remembered Mexican Primrose. It is a pink flower that grows really fast, but be careful, it spreads quickly. It is not an annual, it gets bigger every year. I bet it would look good with that blue senecio. Some irises can take the heat, but they usually only bloom once a year. The foliage is pretty, though.

Have fun on your weekend trip to the nursery. I'm going to Greenwood Gardens on Saturday!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

Thanks Renee for the tips -- I've added the plants you recommended to my list. I finished digging up three new flower beds in the front yard early this morning. Still have lots more space to create new flower beds in the front yard ...

Can we post pictures on this forum?

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

Started planting my new flower beds last night, and continued this morning. Here is what I planted so far:
- African Daisy
- Verbena (Passion Mix, Peruviana White, Pink, Purple)
- Ice Plant (Purple)
- Penstemon Midnight
- Myoporum (Pink)
- Day Lily
- Thyme (Mauve)
- Japanese Barberry (Rose Glow)

I really like the Japanese Barberry! Maybe I'll get a couple more for the front flower bed. Hopefully the thorny plants will keep out invaders ...

Already planted:
- Geraniums (four different kinds)
- Dusty Miller (container)
- Marigolds (containers and back garden)
- cacti
- succulents
- Asparagus Fern (unknown)
- Prickly Asparagus Fern
- Spider Plants (outside and inside)
- Chain Plants (outside and inside)
- Bunny Ears (outside and inside)
- Joseph's Coat (outside and inside)

Lots of inside plants (Velvet plants, cacti and succulents, spider plants, Asparagus fern)

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 3:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi Riding 4 Life,
You really went wild!
I only got three plants this weekend:
Iris "Jennifer Rebecca" a rebloomer
an unnamed yellow and plum daylily seedling
a new agapanthus that blooms April to December

It is better to post photos on the Gallery if you have lots of them. If you have a question associated with the photo, its okay to post them here, but remember that some people have dial-up. I use links to my photobucket page so people with dial-up don't get stuck waiting.

What color daylily did you get? I love daylilies and irises.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I think the best way to learn about plants for your zone is to meet local gardeners, ask what they grow, take their answers with a grain of skepticism, and share plants. Most garden plants either spread, for clumps that can be divided, or produce seeds or volunteer seedlings that can be shared. Most gardeners are more than happy to share plants and tell you what they are growing, how they grow it, etc. If there is a local garden club, try that. If not, just look around the neighborhood. You can tell where the avid gardeners live, and on a saturday morning, perhaps int he evening, or some other opportune time you'll find them outside. Say Hi, ask what they are growing. You'll get tons of information. Some of it will even be useful!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 9:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
chadsjewel(Zone 8)

Hi there

Although I am z8, I am about an hour from Modesto and share your triple digit heat the entire summer! Our lows are just a few degrees below yours, maybe 19 degrees in the winter but usually in the high 20s. I dont have interesting or special plants, just some that live in my yard with little to no care:

-scabiosa-in the full sun, clay soil
-knautia-on the east side of the house
-blue fescue (festuca) some full sun some part shade
-feverfew, is in full sun must be watered more than the others
-japanese ligustrum
-lemon mint
-roses, roses, roses

My neighbor has a huge area of lambs ear that does very well
Guara also seems to do well here

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 10:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vja4him(z8 CA)

The Day Lily I have is pink (large flowers), but no flowers yet. The Penstamon I got is beautiful. I must get a couple more! Last trip to the nursery I got around 60 plants, all for under $50! All of the plants have survived so far ...

Looks like my Geranium cuttings are going to survive! I put around 20 cuttings into the ground, about two or three weeks ago, with some of my own potting mixture (including some sphagnum moss and pearlite). Some of the Geranium cuttings I buried last year have survived three seasons so far.

I stopped by to talk to the owner of a beautiful flower garden about 1/2 mile away at a trailer park. She told me about all of her plants, and said that I could come back and she would give me starts and cuttings!

I went to Home Depot to get the root hormone, but they were out. I'll try another Home Depot, maybe tomorrow.

I'm thinking of adding two or three more Japanese Barberry. Does anyone else have any varieties of the Barberry? I'm trying to find a particular kind of thorny bush, but don't know the name .... I remember seeing it, maybe in Oregon? Many years ago ... It grows with similar patterns to the Barberry, with deadly thorns, long, twisty kind of branches, small leaves, low to the ground, maybe 18 inches to two feet in height.

My mother told me that she has seen Barberry growing in Oregon. She lives in Oregon City, which can get very cold, maybe down to 10 degrees F, with snow!

- Riding 4 Life

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:38PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
trees wont grow
i bought these crepe myrtle trees about 4 years ago.i...
Carlos Hernandez
LADWP turf removal rebate
Hello! My partner and I bought our house in March....
Sunset Magazine slowly being gutted
A real shame. I've been a subscriber for decades, ever...
Please Help Save the Monarch Butterflies
I posted this info to the Butterfly Garden Forum, but...
Shade cloth for tomatoes in San Fernando Valley
We have another couple of scorching days in So Cal...
Sponsored Products
Chrysanthemum Triptych
Grandin Road
Hinkley Hardy Island Matte Bronze Deck Light
$59.91 | Lamps Plus
Jane Hamley Wells | BREEZZ Rectangular Table
Hinkley Lighting Path & Landscape Lights Low Voltage Matte Bronze 20-Watt Hardy
Home Depot
Hinkley Hardy Island Large Standard Outdoor Path Light
Lamps Plus
Simple Living Sophia 5-piece Parson Dining Set
Feza Ivory and Taupe Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$322.00 | Bellacor
Succulent Rosette Art Print
$32.99 | Dot & Bo
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™