Water-wise choices

A choice of water-efficient plants

GROUNDCOVERS

Dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor): 4-6 in. tall, 3 ft. wide; lavender-blue flowers in spring. Low water; fire resistant. Climate zones 1-3 from the Sunset Western Garden Book.

Ice plant (Delosperma nubigenum): 1 in. tall, 3 ft. wide; yellow flowers in spring. Moderate water. Zones 2-3.

Rock soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides): 6-12 in. tall, 3 ft. wide; pink flowers in spring. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum): 6-8 in. tall, 3 ft. wide; white flowers in summer. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Speedwell (Veronica pectinata): 3 in. tall, 1 ft. wide; blue flowers in spring. Low water; fire resistant. Zones 1-3.

Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus): 2-3 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide; pink flowers in summer. Low water; fire resistant. Zones 1-3.

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens): 2-3 ft. tall and wide; fine blue leaves. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora): 4-5 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; green leaves, burgundy plumes in summer; attractive seed heads. Low water. Zones 2b-3b.

Fescue (Festuca idahoensis 'Siskiyou Blue'): 18 in. tall, 15 in. wide; blue-green to silvery blue leaves. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'): 2-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide; pale blue leaves turn red in autumn. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'): 3-4 ft. tall and wide; white-edged leaves. Moderate water. Zones 2-3.

PERENNIALS

Aster x frikartii 'Mönch': 2 ft. tall and wide; lavender flowers in summer. Moderate water. Zones 2b-3b.

Desert four o'clock (Mirabilis multiflora): 1-2 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide; magenta flowers all summer. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): 8 in.- 2 ft. tall and wide; fragrant lavender flowers in summer. Low water; fire resistant. Zones 2-3.

Golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha): 3-4 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide; fragrant yellow flowers in spring. Moderate water; fire resistant. Zones 1-3.

Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber): 3 ft. tall and wide; coral-red flowers in summer. Low water; fire resistant. Zones 2-3.

Mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer'): To 6 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; yellow flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 2-3.

Ozark sundrops (Oenothera macrocarpa incana 'Silver Blade'): 6 in. tall, 2 ft. wide; yellow flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Provence broom (Cytisus purgans 'Spanish Gold'): 4 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide; yellow flowers in spring. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

Purple prairie clover (Petalostemon purpureum): 18 in. tall and wide; purple flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Rocky Mountain penstemon (P. strictus): 2-3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; blue-violet flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Salvia nemorosa 'East Friesland': 18 in. tall and wide; violet-blue flowers summer through fall. Low water. Zones 2-3.

Statice (Limonium gmelinii): 3 ft. tall and wide; purple flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Sundrops (Calylophus serrulatus): 18 in. tall and wide; yellow flowers in summer. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

Wine cups (Callirhoe involucrata): 6 in. tall, 2-3 ft. wide; magenta flowers all summer. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

Yarrow (Achillea 'Moonshine'): 2 ft. tall and wide; silvery leaves and yellow flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 1-3.

SHRUBS

Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa): 3-5 ft. tall and wide; white flowers and feathery seed heads all summer. Very low water; fire resistant. Zones 2a-3b.

Austrian copper rose (Rosa foetida 'Bicolor'): 4-5 ft. tall and wide; coppery red flowers in spring. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Blue mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis): 2 ft. tall and wide; blue flowers in summer. Moderate water. Zones 2b-3b.

Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie': 3-4 ft. tall and wide; fragrant pink flowers in spring; gold-edged leaves. Moderate water. Zones 2b-3b.

Dwarf chamisa (Chrysothamnus nauseosus): 1-4 ft. tall and wide; yellow flowers in summer. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa): 6-8 ft. tall, 15 ft. wide; purple flowers in summer. Low water. Zones 2b-3b.

Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium): 6-8 ft. tall and wide; white flowers in summer. Very low water. Zones 1-3.

Golden currant (Ribes aureum): 3-6 ft. tall and wide; yellow flowers in spring; edible fruit; red fall foliage. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii 'Cheyenne'): 7 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide; fragrant white flowers in spring. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Western sand cherry (Prunus besseyi): 3-6 ft. tall and wide; white flowers in spring; edible fruit. Low water. Zones 1-3.

TREES

Crabapple (Malus 'Coralburst'): 10-15 ft. tall, 8-10 ft. wide; rose-pink flowers in spring; reddish orange fruit. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis): 25-35 ft. tall and wide; rosy pink flowers in spring; yellow fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

European mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia): 20-40 ft. tall, 15-25 ft. wide; white flowers in spring; red berries; red fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata): 20-35 ft. tall, 25-40 ft. wide; yellow flowers in summer; yellow fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 2-3.

Ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer'): 30-35 ft. tall, 12-15 ft. wide; white flowers in spring; red fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 2b-3b.

Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia): 20 ft. tall and wide; white flowers in spring; blue-black fruit; red fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 2-3.

'Princess Kay' plum (Prunus nigra 'Princess Kay'): 15-20 ft. tall, 15 ft. wide; white flowers in spring; red fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 1-3.

Russian hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua): 15-25 ft. tall and wide; white flowers in spring; red fruit; orange fall foliage. Low water. Zones 1-3.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'): 15-25 ft. tall, 15-20 ft. wide; white flowers in spring; purplish black edible fruit; orange-red fall foliage. Moderate water. Zones 2-3.