Do you long for plants that don't need irrigation or fertilizer, don't need to be trimmed or pruned, and require no amendments to your soil? Do you wish you could just dig a hole the size of the plant's roots, stick the thing in, water it once, and it lives? Believe it or not, such plants exist. We're not talking about horrible weeds that take over your yard, but beautiful plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are ignored by deer and gophers. Here are 4 nearly indestructible plants that can make anybody a successful gardener. For fun, they're all gray.
This hybrid between two tough Southern California sages (Salvia clevelandii X leucophylla 'Pozo Blue') forms a 3-4 foot rounded gray shrub. It has flowers nearly all summer that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It needs no water after it's established, and if planted in the fall or winter, usually only one watering is sufficient. It has fragrant foliage that discourages most critters that might eat it, including deer and gophers. Pozo blue also provides seeds that attract finches and quail.
Bladderpod is an unusual-looking silver-leaved shrub. Yellow flowers appear year-round in most climates and are used by hummingbirds and butterflies. The flowers mature into large seed pods that dangle off the stems like jewelry. Bladderpod will grow in almost any climate as long as the winter temperatures stay above about 10 degrees. They can be found growing wild from the dry expanses of the Mojave desert to exposed coastal bluffs in full salt spray. Bladderpod will grow in almost any soil, and is deer- resistant. Don't over-water this plant. It prefers rainfall around 15-25 inches per year; any more water than that and it has trouble.
This spreading perennial (Epilobium canum 'Catalina') produces flowers throughout much of the summer and even into fall. Its red trumpet flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds, especially in fall when nectar sources are very limited. California fuchsia will grow in full sun or part shade. It grows well in heavy soils but also is happy in sandier soils. This plant will go dormant in the winter but reappears in the spring. This plant can become weedy in regularly irrigated areas. As long as your garden is unwatered or has limited irrigation, it is well behaved.
This fast-growing flowering shrub (Lupinus albifrons) has shimmering sliver foliage and large blue-purple flowers. Silver bush lupine is very showy in the spring when it's in full flower. It grows in natural soil of various kinds. Silver bush lupine can grow almost anywhere, but seems to prefer drier areas with full sun exposure. Just plant it in your natural soil, water a few times, and it's good to go.