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Water-thrifty So. African Plants

Posted by Susi_So_Calif USDA10/Sunset24 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 19, 04 at 5:07

I'm planning a new garden in Vista, CA (San Diego County, zone 10/11) and intend to use mostly water-thrifty plants. For those of you in similar climates, what So. African plants in your gardens have proven to be the most water-thrifty? Thanks!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Water-thrifty So. African Plants

Dear Susi,

You live in one of the best, if not the best, spots in the world, outside of South Africa, for South African plants.

Aloes, Kalanchoes, Crassulas, Cotyledons, Tylecodons, Cyphostemmas, Senecios, Gasterias....I could go on and on....

And they're all succulent. Sorry, but I am a bit monomaniacal - that's all I grow.

If yo'd like cuttings (free) of them, you'll have to travel down to central San Diego, but you're welcome to visit my garden and get a bunch of them.

And that's not even mentioning the New World plants that are xerophytic!

Save water, grow a cactus (or a succulent).

RE: Water-thrifty So. African Plants

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 24, 04 at 2:59

You would also be well served to consider many of the South African Western Cape/Namaqualand species of shrubs, bulbs, trees in addition to the succulents, which I would have to agree are particularly nice to combine in drought tolerant gardens. Maybe you just need a refresher visit to the display gardens at Buena Creek Nursery!

I am not sure whether no water or very limited supplemental water is your objective, but in my opinion, some summer irrigation is beneficial from an aesthetic standpoint even with Aloes. If the Taft garden in Ojai, the Institute for Environmental Concerns,(or something similar to that title), is now open to the public again, this garden is well worth a visit. I remember seeing this in March when the Aloes and Proteas were in full bloom in a 4 acre meadow surrounded by the surrounding mountains, and it was absolutely stunning.

I don't personally grow any of my various South African plants without any supplemental water, but the species from Namaqualand and the drier parts of the Little Karoo ought to be good starting points. Unfortunately for me, many are not completely tolerant of our occasional frosts in combination with wet winters which can rot them out. Many of these same plants, (especially Euphorbias and Aloes), are grown to perfection in the Ruth Bancroft Garden out in much colder in winter and also drier Walnut Creek, but are often given the extra protection of winter covers to shield from rains and freezes.

RE: Water-thrifty So. African Plants

hi, Im not sure if my climate is the same, but I live in a typical mediterranean climate with long dry hot summers and winter rainfall. some of the plants that I grow in my climate and are water thrifty would be diosmas,,agapanthus, sparaxis and freesias (the last two get no watering at all and rely on rainfall)

RE: Water-thrifty So. African Plants

  • Posted by SoCal23 USDA10/Sunset23 (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 14, 04 at 12:35

I grow the following South African plants without summer irrigation:

Anisodontea (not sure which species, no sign of drought stress)

Crassula ovata (leaves shrivel up by late summer but plump right back up after the first rain)

Pelargoniums (assorted no sign of drought stress by the end of summer)

Nerine (N. bowdenii & N. corusca major)

Aloe (2 unknown species)

Melianthus comosus (seedlings were provided by someone on this forum last fall or winter)





Chasmanthe floribunda duckittii (prolific self seeder)

Homeria collina (sometimes listed under Morea)

Agapanthus (depending on conditions may require some summer water, dewfall is adequate here)

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