<em>Rhus integrifolia</em>
Courtesy Photo

Do you think that native plants are difficult to grow? I was beginning to think so myself when my first three attempts to grow a flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum) resulted in three dead plants. It is true that native plants earned a difficult reputation because many thrive in very particular conditions — in my case, the flannel bush expects it to be dry all summer so reacted poorly when I watered nearby plants.

But many native plants are quite easy to grow. The horticulture staff at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden have identified a list of plants that are drought-tolerant but can also take a bit of summer water; thrive in a variety of soils and light conditions; and are, of course, beautiful. We’re calling the first ones on the list the Easy Eight. They are the following: ‘Howard McMinn’ manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora ×); California seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus cultivars); ‘Canyon Snow’ iris (Iris sp.); lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia); hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea); ‘Ray Hartman’ wild lilac (Ceanothus arboreus × griseus); ‘Winnifred Gilman’ sage (Salvia clevelandii); and coral bells (Heuchera cultivars).

All of these plants work together with other natives and exotic plants in your landscape, and they can handle a little water in the summer if you want to keep them from going dormant. And these are just the first eight — we have another easy eight on our website, as well, and we are always evaluating plant performance to see what else is similarly “easy” here in Santa Barbara.

Learn more about them all at sbbg.org/easy-8, or stop by the Garden Growers Nursery at the Botanic Garden, where our Landscape for Life program can also help you design a garden that takes into account your soil, light, and water (or lack thereof). This is the perfect time to plan for fall planting.


Know a garden that’s already drought-tolerant and full of beautiful native plants? Then nominate it for the Botanic Garden’s second annual Native Choice Award for visual appeal and excellence in the use of native plants, to be presented at the Santa Barbara Beautiful Awards Gala on September 27. Nominations will be accepted through July 15. See sbbg.org/native-choice.


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