Garden plants that don’t need to be watered are not as rare as you might think. Certain readily available succulents not only get by on rainfall alone, they’ll grow in nutrient-poor soil and can handle searing sun and frost.
These easy-care succulents native to the Southwest and Mexico: dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. They thrive from Mexico to the Bay Area and in parts of Colorado, Texas and the Carolinas (Zones 7b and higher).
The Laguna Beach garden shown here has all four.
Above: Mark and Cindy Evans’ hilltop garden in Laguna Beach, CA has all sorts of dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. Also in their garden are euphorbias, crassulas (jades) and aloes. Can you tell which is which?
Above: In the Evans garden are Yucca rostrata, Agave attenuata and Yucca aloifolia (Spanish bayonet). A topdressing of golden decomposed granite lends a finished look.
Above: Two Dasylirion whipplei (which resemble pincushions) are 15 years old. The Yucca aloifolia at left was there when Mark and Cindy bought the house in 1999. “I think it’s pretty old; its base is huge,” Mark says. Four silvery blue Yucca rostrata also are 15 (the much larger one at right gets more sun). Mark planted the spineless paddle cactus along the wall from cuttings six years ago. Behind them, at right, is a 6-year-old blue Agave americana. Growing in the dry fountain are 8-year-old foxtail agaves (Agave attenuata).
How is it possible that yuccas and dasylirions, which have thin leaves, are succulents? It’s because the store water in their trunks. A succulent by definition is “any plant that stores water in fleshy leaves or stems in order to withstand periods of drought.”