Believe it or not, many areas of Southern California are technically considered deserts because of the small amount of rainfall received throughout the year. Deserts are generally classified as receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. This is not true of San Diego, as it can get 10 inches in one day during the rainy winter season. However, most areas of Southern California, such as San Diego, are nowhere near as dry as the Sahara or Mojave, but with the drought of the last decade or so, still technically fall in the temperate desert category, as evaporation and transpiration exceed precipitation. For this reason, plants in this area should be drought tolerant in order to survive and thrive.
Drought tolerant plants come in many forms such as evergreen, deciduous, palm, conifer, and bulb, and there are a few different levels of drought tolerance.
1 – Can become drought tolerant with proper watering techniques
2 – Needs water in the Summer, but survives well in the rainy season
3 – Can survive on natural rainfall, year-round
There are over 100 different drought-tolerant plants that can flourish in Southern California, from small bushes to towering palm trees. Many are indigenous to California, while others are native to foreign lands such as Australia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. There are areas of San Diego that are populated by plants almost entirely from South Africa.
The most common types of trees and plants grown in the drought-tolerant climate of San Diego are evergreens. Many Acacia, Lavender and Gum varieties do quite well with low to moderate watering. Even some trees that produce tasty, edible fruits such as pineapple guavas are drought tolerant.
With the increasing concern for the environment, many people have begun to switch to more drought tolerant plants as a way of saving water. Many grass and turf areas require an ample water supply to remain green. With the water crisis of Southern California, this is not conducive to helping the environment.