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Learn how to use drought-tolerant plants in your yard

Penstemon requires little water to grow in this area.
Penstemon requires little water to grow in this area.

The severe drought in California has left many gardeners in a quandary as to how to proceed with future planting.

We need to learn how drought-tolerant native plants and other Mediterranean climate plants can be used in the landscape.

In general, these plants have very low water requirements. Supplemental watering is required when the plants are first put in the ground. But once they are established, usually after the first year, little or no water is needed except in times of extreme drought.

One of the most important aspects of gardening in our area is to understand the climate, which is described as a Mediterranean climate.

This type of climate occurs in only five areas of the world — coastal California, coastal Chile, Australia, South Africa and all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

A Mediterranean climate features a long dry spell during most of spring, summer and fall, with a short rainy spell during winter months. Of course, we have several microclimates in California varying from coastal areas to inland.

Plants that do well here with minimal supplemental irrigation are usually California natives and other Mediterranean climate species.

These plants are well-suited to our Central Coast environment, and we have a large plant palette to work with, including annuals, ground covers and flowering shrubs. Many trees also fall into this category including oaks, sycamore, toyon and a variety of conifers.

To learn more about these plants, we encourage you to attend this month’s UCCE Master Gardener’s Advice to Grow By workshop. It will focus on landscaping with drought tolerant California natives and other Mediterranean climate plants.

The workshop will be held outside, weather permitting, in our Garden of the Seven Sisters.

Presenters will include a guest speaker from the California Native Plant Society and UCCE Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County. We will discuss the benefits of using natives and how to landscape with natives and Mediterranean plants, including those from the beautiful Proteaceae family.

The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 16, at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. The UCCE Master Gardener annual Spring Plant Sale will immediately follow the workshop from noon to 2 p.m.

Nancy Hartwick is a UCCE Master Gardener.

Got a gardening question?

In San Luis Obispo call 781-5939, Arroyo Grande, 473-7190 and Templeton, 434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 781-5939.