You may already be aware that most California natives are very drought tolerant, and that is a big part of their appeal.  Their water conserving ways are the result of having evolved in California’s unique Mediterranean climate.  The normal pattern for this climate is cold or cool winters during which most of our rainfall occurs. Summers are warm or hot with moderate humidity and little or no rainfall.

Native plant garden. Photo: Dennis Mudd
Native plant garden. Credit Dennis Mudd.

In response to this pattern, most drought tolerant California natives evolved to rest during the hot summer and early fall, and prefer not to receive water during this period.  Many will even die if they receive significant amounts of direct irrigation during our hot summer months.  On the other hand, native riparian plants evolved to grow near creeks or other moist areas, and will need or prefer at least a little water year-round.

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