Low-Maintenance Perennials for Southern California

You can't go wrong with these low-maintenance garden plants for bold color and texture in the landscape.

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    Southern California's dry and often hot and sunny weather calls for low-maintenance outdoor plants that can withstand tough conditions. If you've had troubles finding varieties that look great and don't require a ton of care, try these perennials. We've selected a group of old-fashioned favorites—in fact, you may see them thriving in yards where no one's cared for them in years.

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    Lily of the Nile

    There's old-world beauty to this well-known and well-loved plant. Its distinctiveness lies in the clumping foliage at the base, topped by spikes of flowers, usually trumpet-shape, that make an appearance in late summer. These low-maintenance perennials are deer-resistant cut flowers that are great for containers.

    Plant Name: Agapanthus africanus

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: The equally tall and large blooms of yellow yarrow for interesting color.

    Zones: 9-10

  • Dietes iridioides, white African iris, fortnight lily, Cape iris 3 of 12

    African Iris

    Throw a few African iris next to a sidewalk; they won't mind. These easy-maintenance plants are perfect for stretching down your walkway. In fact, this summer bloomer loves hard-to-grow spots, bearing dozens of white flowers from spring through summer.

    Plant Name: Dietes bicolor

    Growing Conditions: Sun or shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Pair the delicate beauty of African iris with a petite sunflower for pretty, neutral color.

    Zones: 8-11

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    Santa Barbara Daisy

    Summer brings plenty of showstopping bloomers, including Santa Barbara daisy, a vigorous, no-maintenance garden plant with gray-green leaves and profusions of yellow-center flowers. The petals begin white but fade into pink or purple.

    Plant Name: Erigeron karvinskianus

    Growing Conditions: Part sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Create beautiful masses in the garden with mounds of coreopsis.

    Zones: 5-7

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    Sea Lavender

    A favorite in dried-flower arrangements, sea lavender, or statice, sends out foot-long clumps and spraying clusters of purple and white flowers all summer long. These easy-maintenance plants are deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, and will attract birds to your no-maintenance garden.

    Plant Name: Limonium latifolium

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

    Grow It With: Choose a foliage accent, such as the silvery-gray, thin-leaf dusty miller.

    Zones: 4-9

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    Matilija Poppy

    Not quite a shrub, but not just a flower either! Matilija poppy bears riotous foliage and showy white flowers in summer. Mostly upright with solitary flowers, these low-maintenance perennials make a vigorous, fast-spreading addition to a no-maintenance garden.

    Plant Name: Romneya coulteri

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Grow It With: Add contrast with Pride of Madeira.

    Zones: 8-10

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    Kangaroo Paw

    Distinctive is a word best bestowed on the tropical-inspired form of kangaroo paw. The slender, 5-foot branches add height, while the delicate flowers—tubular and resembling a cute kangaroo's paw—are covered with hairs and flower from spring to midsummer.

    Plant Name: Anigozanthos selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Grow It With: Choose a plant such as lavender that contributes to the tropical feel but also adds fullness and bloom profusion.

    Zones: 10-11

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    Bear's Breeches

    Tall and oh, so beautiful! These easy-maintenance plants can shoot up flower spikes in summer up to 4 feet high. Bear's breeches is also distinctive for its huge, coarse leaves, adding sculptural form to woodland plantings.

    Plant Name: Acanthus mollis

    Growing Conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: The dark foliage and similarly spiky blooms of delphinium.

    Zones: 7-11

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    California Fuchsia

    Liven up your no-maintenance garden with some color! A long bloomer and heat-resistant grower, California fuchsia offers intense hot-red or orange flowers all summer long. Its distinctive shape adds a bit of informality to a no-maintenance garden.

    Plant Name: Zauschneria californica

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Pair it with the fragrant, low-growing foliage found in plants such as rosemary.

    Zones: 8-11

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    Bird of Paradise

    In a word, bird of paradise is exotic. Add decidedly tropical flair to your no-maintenance garden with this perennial's distinctive foliage and glowing orange blooms that bolt up and out of the leaves. This bold plant is surprisingly versatile; it looks equally amazing when grown as a dramatic specimen plant or planted in large groups.

    Plant Name: Strelitzia reginae

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Grow It With: Include the large-leaf, tropical growth of elephant ears for foliage and bloom interest.

    Zones: 10-11

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    Hens-and-Chicks

    This succulent groundcover eventually forms flocks of little drought-tolerant babies that are easy to transplant to other parts of the yard or share. Add interest to your no-maintenance garden with different types; hens-and-chicks comes in a huge number of leaf shapes and tints, including some with rich burgundy foliage.

    Plant Name: Sempervivum spp.

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 1 foot wide

    Grow It With: Hen-and-chicks works mostly as a groundcover or container plant, so add the creeping growth of groundcover sedum for a good pairing.

    Zones: 5-11

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