Garden with the ‘All-Stars’ during dry times

Red Hesperaloe attract hummingbirds and pollinators at Sunnylands garden in Palm Springs. Photo: Kristi Garrett

Red Hesperaloe attract hummingbirds and pollinators at Sunnylands garden in Palm Springs. Photo: Kristi Garrett

As the growing season ramps up, visions of a luscious garden don’t evaporate simply because water is in short supply.

Cultivating a landscape that’s considerate of our record drought doesn’t have to mean a yard covered in rocks. There are a number of beautiful flowering plants that thrive with minimal water. The UC Davis Arboretum offers a list of 100 “All-Stars” that are recommended for a drought-stricken California garden.

It’s the mission of the UC Davis Arboretum and the California Center for Urban Horticulture to help home gardeners select plants that are best suited for our environment, while attracting pollinators and beneficial insects and looking beautiful.

Select plants by exposure and water needs from the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars list. Source:

Plants on the list must meet specific criteria to be considered an All-Star:

  • Attractive for most of the year
  • Thrive in a Mediterranean climate
  • Tested for fitness in the UC Davis Arboretum

Many All-Stars are also:

  • Low maintenance
  • Drought tolerant
  • Attract pollinators and beneficial insects
  • Remain below power lines

Download the All-Star brochure for a list of plants that are well suited for various areas in your landscape, along with images, size, blooming season, sun exposure, water needs and pruning requirements.

The list is also available on the Arboretum’s interactive search page.

UC Davis Arboretum makes plant selection easy; visit the search at

Enter your requirements for type, size, exposure and whether or not you want a California native, and you’ll get a list of images and descriptions of matching plants. There’s even an advanced search that sorts selections by water needs, flower season, flower color and wildlife that plant attracts, so you can enjoy year-round color that complements your landscape — all while being drought-conscious.

This gallery of images from the Living Desert in Palm Desert and Sunnylands in Palm Springs show what proper plant selection and care can do for even the most barren landscape. Happy planting!

Kristi Garrett

Kristi Garrett is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Veggie Enthusiast of Little Green Wheelbarrow. After 16 years in journalism and corporate communications, she figures it's time to get some dirt under her nails.

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