Choosing the Right Plants

drought tolerant plants

Many of your neighbors have already made the switch to landscapes that thrive in our semi-arid Long Beach climate. Learn more about some of the popular plants people choose below. When selecting plants for your garden, it is important to (1) understand the characteristics (such as the amount of sunlight) of the location to determine what plants are suited for that area and (2) understand the water needs of existing plants in that location – to make sure your additions can be placed on the same watering cycle.

Choosing the right plants will be one of the toughest decisions you make. There are almost too many potential factors to consider. This is where spending time at nurseries, on the internet, and observing what grows well in your neighborhood will really pay off.

California Natives

California Native plants are species that over time have developed, evolved and coexisted with the wildlife species that inhabit our state. Native plants are great for your garden, because they are perfectly suited for our climate, soil, and wildlife, which comes with several important advantages. The greatest advantage of native plants is that they often require no watering once established since they have adapted to the Southern California rainfall patterns. By gardening with native plants, you can bring the classic beauty of California into your own landscape and help preserve our local ecosystems.

Flowering Plants

Flowering plants are, as their name suggests, plants that produce flowers. Flowering plants provide color and style and are known for attracting birds and butterflies. They can be annual or perennial. Annuals are plants with a life cycle that only last for one year and need to be replanted each year. Perennials tend to bloom once a year for a short period of time, but do not have to be replanted each year. Deciduous perennials grow for part of the year, while evergreen perennials bloom all year round.

Some important things to consider:

  • If you have clay soil, certain plants may never do well
  • Whether the garden is predominantly in sun or shade
  • How hardy do the plants have to be (do you have a green thumb, or should the plants be nearly indestructible?)
  • Are you looking to create a garden of a certain theme, such as a hummingbird or butterfly garden, or succulent garden, or capture a southwestern U.S. style or casual coastal?
  • Do the colors or plants need to complement your home’s design or exterior paint?
  • Color of foliage and color of blooms and time of year of the blooms
  • How tall and wide should plants be when mature (usually taller as you get close to tall structures such as the house, smaller as you get closer to smaller “structures” such as sidewalks and walkways)?
  • How much variety or uniformity of color, size and shape are you looking for?
  • Are the plants evergreen or deciduous?
  • Can you benefit from deciduous trees near south-facing walls, which help warm the house in the winter and keep it cool in the summer?
  • Do the plants attract critters you might not like, such as bees?
  • Are members of your family allergic to certain plants?
  • Can plants you’re considering be toxic to kids or pets?
  • Avoid invasive plants


Water Department’s Demonstration Garden

You are invited to drop by our drought-tolerant demonstration garden, located at 1800 E Wardlow Road, LB 90807, where you’ll find a tremendous variety of beautiful plants.

Online, Searchable Plant Databases

Calscape Garden Planner

Answer a few quick questions about your desired garden and the Calscape Garden Planner will generate a list of recommended California native plants for you!

Visit Your Local Nurseries

Local nurseries are a great place to see the live plants.

H&H Nursery

  • Phone: (888) 372-6220
  • Shop Online!
  • Use Coupon Code L2G2016 for a 10% discount off the already low prices.
  • Plants are delivered directly to your home.

Bonita Nursery

Village Nursery

Ricardo’s Nursery

Water Wise Botanicals

Revival Nursery

Armstrong Garden Center

Garibaldo’s Nursery

Visit LA Coastal Water Wise Gardening to help you with plant selection. This site offers beautiful pictures and specific characteristics for each plant. You can save items that you like by clicking on the “Add to My Plant List” button. This allows you to go back when you are finished browsing and print out a list of your selections. You can even print the list out by hydrozones. A hydrozone is a landscape practice that groups plants with similar water requirements together. Also try this Garden Planner by the Calscape. This will give you a customized list of plants based on your needs.

Top 40 Plants

The following are the 40 most common plants chosen in the Lawn-to-Garden (L2G) program. They are chosen for a variety of reasons such as cost, beauty, availability and hardiness.