UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Water Wise Plants

Here's a full list of all our water wise plants. You can also view an image gallery, or view the plants by categories.

Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick'

Pronunciation
er-IJ-er-on GLAW-kus
Common Name
Seaside Daisy 'Wayne Roderick'
Plant Type
Perennial
Mature Size
1 ft. high and spreading up to 2 ft. wide
Water Requirements
Moderate: water weekly until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun
Wildlife
  • Bees
  • Butterflies
Flower Color
Pink to Lavender to Violet
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

We've been growing Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' in the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden for several years now. The cultivar 'Wayne Roderick' is supposed to be longer lived, have larger blooms, and be more durable and heat tolerant than the species. Our experience with Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' has been very good, although we have noticed that the foliage burns in the summer unless given more frequent water.

This plant has a long bloom period with regular deadheading. Ours starts blooming in the spring and continues into the fall. To keep this plant looking its best, we prune leggy growth back to 1 or 2 inches in the late fall.

In the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' has been a winner. We would recommend to anyone looking for a plant with a very long bloom period.

Festuca glauca

Pronunciation
fes-TOO-ka GLAW-ka
Common Name
Blue Fescue
Plant Type
Grass
Mature Size
1 ft high and 10 in. wide
Water Requirements
Moderate: water weekly until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun
Wildlife
Flower Color
Blue-green
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

Blue fescue is a small, evergreen bunch grass with narrow blue-green leaves that form a mound. The fairly insignificant flowers appear in early summer.

This grass needs occasional water and good drainage. It tends to brown out in the middle, but can be divided and replanted to renew it. In a low water garden, these grasses seem to hold their blue green color better in the shade.

In the Water Wise Garden we have removed most of these grasses. We had hoped to use blue fescue as an edging plant throughout the garden beds, however, in our opinion, only a few looked good enough to keep in the garden.

Heuchera 'Rosada'

Pronunciation
HEW-ker-ah
Common Name
Coral Bells 'Rosada'
Plant Type
Perennial
Mature Size
3 ft. to 4 ft. wide with 1 ft. flower stalks
Water Requirements
Moderate: water weekly until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Half sun to shade
Wildlife
  • Hummingbirds
Flower Color
Pink
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

There are many different kinds of Heuchera, but one of our favorites is "Rosada'. Heuchera 'Rosada', which was introduced to the nursery trade by the UC Davis Arboretum, is a cross between two different native species from the western U.S.

Heuchera rosada prefers light shade and occasional to moderate water. With beautiful rosettes of low growing foliage and stalks of pink blooms, it is a favorite of woodland gardens. Removing the flower stalks when the plant finishes blooming is all the maintenance this western native needs.

Although these plants will grow in full sun, they will need more water to look their best. Plants grown in the shade can tolerate less water.

UC Davis Arboretum selected Heuchera 'Rosada' for its "All Stars" series. "All Stars" are easy to grow, reliable, do not need a lot of water, and have few pest or disease problems.

Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly'

Pronunciation
pol-ee-GAH-luh froo-tih-KOH-suh
Common Name
Petite Butterfly Sweet-Pea Shrub
Plant Type
Shrub
Mature Size
2 ft. to 3 ft. wide and tall
Water Requirements
Moderate: water weekly until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun
Wildlife
Flower Color
Purplish pink
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

It's always nice to find a neat, round evergreen shrub that blooms a lot and doesn't get too big. Polygala fruticosa plays nicely in the perennial garden. Its flowers look a bit like sweet peas hence the common name 'Sweet-Pea Shrub'.

Cut back Polygala to about 10 inches above the ground in late winter to maintain its compact shape.

Sunset recommends providing regular water for Polygala. We are currently trialing this plant to see if it can survive in a low water garden. Several Master Gardeners have not found Polygala fruticosa to be long-lived in their home gardens.

Tanacetum densum amani

Pronunciation
TAN-uh-SEE-tum DEN-sum AHM-an-eye
Common Name
Partridge Feather
Plant Type
Groundcover
Mature Size
6 - 8 in. high, spreading slowly to make a mat about 1 1/2 ft. wide
Water Requirements
Moderate: water weekly until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun
Wildlife
  • Bees
  • Beneficials
Flower Color
Yellow
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

Tanacetum densum amani is an interesting ground cover that is native to Turkey. Its leaves are silver and have a feathery texture that people are drawn to. We have used this plant as an edger in one of our beds.

One drawback to the plant is the small yellow flowers that appear in late spring. Some people like them, but we cut them off.

This plant has survived, but not thrived at in the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden. One of the reasons may be it likes more water than it receives in the demonstration garden. We water deeply every three weeks. We suspect this plant would look lusher in the summer with deep weekly watering.

This plant is not easy to find in nurseries and gardens. If you like the texture, Tanacetum densum amani is worth seeking out.

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