Top 5 Plants for San Luis Obispo

Trying to decide what to plant in your San Luis Obispo landscape? Here are our top 5 picks…

When landscaping or gardening in San Luis Obispo, the first thing to look for is what plants grow well naturally here. The plant communities of SLO are classified as a mix of Coastal Sage Scrub and Central Oak Woodland. This means plants that are native to these communities will typically do exceptionally well in our area, even with very little water or maintenance.

The following are a few of our top picks for drought-tolerant plants in San Luis Obispo. They are adapted to our climate, soils, and native insects, so that makes these plants perfect for the water-wise native garden.

1.California Fuchsia, Zauschneria californica


California Fuchsia is a lovely perennial that comes in many different varieties. The most common ones in our area feature silver gray foliage and reddish trumpet shaped flowers. Most Fuchsias grow well in full sun and thrive even with only a little supplemental irrigation.

These showy and colorful plants provide a vibrant “pop” to a landscape and hummingbirds can often be seen hovering around the flowers.

2.Cleveland Sage, Salvia clevelandii


This shrub is known for its striking blue flowers and spicy scent. It features fuzzy grayish foliage and woody stems. It gets up to 5 feet tall and wide and benefits from light pruning as the flowers die off. This Salvia loves full sun and has no problem withstanding drought conditions.

When not flowering, Cleveland Sage adds a nice bit of texture and color to the landscape. When it blooms, it becomes an eye-catching delight that mixes well with other native plants. Even if it wasn’t so beautiful, the scent alone would make Cleveland Sage a worthy addition to your garden.

3.Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens


Deer grass is a native perennial bunching grass that grows about 4 feet high and wide. It has green foliage and long, spiky flowers. Deer Grass has low water requirements, likes full sun, and tolerates heat and cold well.

This is a fantastic choice for your landscape. It grows quickly and provides a lovely soft texture that flows in the wind. It is equally at home in contemporary style gardens as it is in more natural looking settings. As a bonus, it attracts beneficial insects and requires very little maintenance.

4.Manzanita, Arctostaphylos


Manzanitas are a native plant that you can see in abundance in some of our local wilderness areas. Montano De Oro and Cerro Alto come to mind as places to see these beautiful specimens growing in their natural setting.

Manzanitas come in many forms. There are groundcovers, mid to large sized shrubs, and tree form Manzanitas. They are most recognizable by their deep red bark and delicate, pink, apple shaped flowers that drape down in clusters. These plants thrive in drought conditions. In fact, once they are established, they prefer to go without supplemental water in the dry season.

Manzanitas fit especially well in native landscapes as a specimen tree or on hillsides as a low growing shrub or groundcover.

5.California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum


California Buckwheat is a native plant that grows very well in our area. Like all of the other plants, this one is also extremely drought-tolerant and low-maintenance.

Buckwheat is covered in flowers, often even in the winter, which makes this plant a great option for year-round color. The flowers are white, pink, or rust colored depending on the season and they attract a variety of beneficial insects and butterflies.

This is a wonderful plant to use for your landscape to give it more color and to provide habitat for native fauna.


There are many more wonderful plants to choose from for your landscaping and garden here in San Luis Obispo. We are lucky to have such an abundance of different plants that will grow well here. If you need any help with your landscaping or need more plant information, feel free to contact us at 805-400-4140.