No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens


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. No-water succulents for Southern California gardens that are native to the Southwest and Mexico include dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. They thrive from south of the border to the Bay Area and in parts of Colorado, Texas and the Carolinas (Zones 7b and higher).

No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens
Above: Mark and Cindy Evans’ hilltop landscape in Laguna Beach is several miles inland from the coast.  It features these no-water succulents for Southern California gardens: several varieties of dasylirions, agaves, cacti and yuccas. Also in their garden are highly drought-tolerant South African succulents such as euphorbias, crassulas (jades) and aloes.  Can you tell which is which?

No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens

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.

No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens

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 they 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.”

Related info on this site:

Go to my Agave page for labeled photos of 20+ varieties

No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens

Read my article: “Is Cactus the New Black?”

Long a pariah plant, cactus is becoming cool. Spiny succulents are following smooth ones in popularity, notably in [Continue reading]

Why Grow Paddle Cacti? DLB’s 16 Reasons

No-Water Succulents for Southern California Gardens

Of the dozen or so types of cacti in my garden, I have more opuntias than any other. Also known as paddle cactus or prickly pear… [Continue reading]

Be sure to see my YouTube video: What you MUST know about century plants (Agave americana


Obtain my comprehensive guide to succulent landscaping, Designing with Succulents.

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  1. Sandra Watts on December 10, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Where do you buy your succulents. Can on order them online?

    • Debra on December 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      If you’re in the San Diego Area, refer to the list of San Diego succulent resources on my website. Otherwise, Google the plant/s you want and you’ll find numerous online sources. One mail-order succulent nursery with quality plants is Altman.

  2. Succulents on February 5, 2020 at 9:02 am

    I use Altman to purchase all of my succulents and have never been dissapointed! Highly recommended!

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