10 Best Perennials for Southern California That Are Low-Maintenance

Best Perennials for Southern California

Choosing the best perennials for Southern California gardens is a wise decision for several reasons. Firstly, perennials are plants that thrive year after year, offering a sustainable and cost-effective gardening solution.

In Southern California’s unique climate, characterized by mild winters and hot, dry summers, selecting the right perennials can ensure a vibrant garden with continuous flowers bloom. These plants are often drought-tolerant, requiring less water and maintenance, which aligns well with the region’s water conservation needs.

Moreover, the right selection of perennials can enhance local biodiversity, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Overall, choosing suitable perennials enriches the beauty and ecological health of Southern Californian gardens while aligning with environmental conservation efforts.

Best Perennials for Southern California

1. Southern California

summer flowers in california

Common names for members of this genus are buckbrush, California lilac, soap bush, or just ceanothus. California lilac attracts beneficial insects like bees and other pollinators, as well as birds, squirrels, and rabbits, adding a fun element of wildlife to your garden. Those near the foothills will notice that deer often enjoy California lilac as well.

Lilacs grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Lilacs grown in partial sun or shade will not flower well. The shrubs may take three to four years to establish themselves in a new site, but once established, they can live for centuries.

Soil pH (alkalinity or acidity of the soil) may affect the plant’s growth. Fresh and dried lilac flowers were said to be turned into soaps to help treat poison oak and eczema, but much more effective treatments have been found since then.

2. Cotoneasters

best perennials for southern california

Cotoneasters are evergreen plants with leaves that are alternate and smooth-edged. The small white to pink flowers have five petals and sepals and are usually borne in clusters. The showy red-to-black fruit is a pome that measures about 8 mm in diameter and contains two to five stones.

Cotoneasters are easy to grow in a wide range of well-drained soils. They dislike heavy, moist ground or earth overlaid with woodchip, and they relish any soil with excellent drainage, from chalk to sand. Full sun is preferable for a good show of flowers and colorful fruit, but they will grow in semi-shade.

The genus Cotoneaster Medikus provides numerous species traditionally used in Asian medicine for the treatment of hemorrhoids, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

3. Rode Rose

perennial flowers california

Roses are a symbol of support for friends or family who are going through a difficult time. To signify eternal love and show that you want to spend the rest of your life with that significant other.

Various parts of rose, such as fruits, flowers, leaves, and bark, can be used in various product development, including cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals, and engineering. The medical benefits of roses include the treatment of inflammation, diabetes, dysmenorrhea, depression, stress, seizures, and aging.

The best conditions for growing roses include well-drained, loamy soil with good organic matter, full sun exposure (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day), and adequate air circulation to prevent diseases.

4. Astilbe

year round flowers california

Astilbe is a genus of 18 species of rhizomatous flowering plants within the family  Saxifragaceae, native to mountain ravines and woodlands in Asia and North America. Some species are known by the common names false goat’s beard and false spirea.

Astilbe rivularis Buch. Ham., a rhizomatous perennial herb of the Saxifragaceae family, has been listed as a rare species. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used for the treatment of ulcers, bleeding during childbirth, inflammation, body ache, diarrhea, and dysentery.

Astilbes need to grow in a dappled or part shady location in moisture-retentive soil to thrive. They will not tolerate dry soils. They can, however, tolerate more sun, as long as the soil doesn’t dry out, so make good plants for a bog garden or waterside plant.

5. Bears Breeches

california perennial flowers

breeches, sea dock, bear’s foot plant, sea holly, gator plant, or oyster plant, is a species of plant in the family Acanthaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a leafy, clump-forming perennial herb with a rosette of relatively large, lobed, or toothed leaves and purplish and white flowers on an erect spike.
Bear’s breech has no toxic effects reported. Snap a photo for instant plant ID, gaining quick insights on disease prevention, treatment, toxicity, care, uses, and symbolism.

Grow bear’s breeches in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Cut back stems after flowering and tidy foliage in spring.

6. Blue Passion Flower

california perennials

The passion flower was known in Spanish as “La Flor de las Cinco Llagas,” meaning “The Flower With the Five Wounds.” The word “Passionis” refers to “Christ’s suffering” in Spanish. It’s been traditionally used to help with sleep. People use passion flowers for anxiety, including anxiety before surgery.

Some people also take passion flowers for insomnia, stress, ADHD, pain, and many other conditions. Thrives in full sun or part shade in loose sandy or gravelly soils and moist, well-drained soils. Good drainage is essential. Go light on fertilizer and water deeply, but infrequently. Passion Flowers should be encouraged to reach deep into the earth for water.

7. Bird of Paradise

california perennial flowers

The bird of paradise flower symbolizes joyfulness, paradise, freedom, anticipation, and excitement. Furthermore, it represents faithfulness, love, and thoughtfulness while being the official flower of the ninth wedding anniversary. It also represents having a good perspective on life.

Bird of paradise is a tropical plant that is hardy in temperatures over 60°F but does best in temperatures between 65 and 80°F. It is relatively hardy and adapts to a wide spectrum of light conditions from direct sun to low, indirect light, but will flourish in a sunny spot. Water and humidity are important to keep your Bird of Paradise healthy.

Bird of Paradise Wonders

It needs consistent watering to keep the soil moist but never wet or soggy. The bird of paradise plant has stunning flowers. It is an ideal houseplant because it is low-maintenance and is considered minimally toxic to humans. they are used extensively as ornamental landscape plants.They can also be grown as indoor houseplants in cold areas.

8. Fuchsias

flowers to grow in southern california

Fuchsia is a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees. Fuchsias will grow perfectly well in either full sun or partial shade with shelter from cold winds, although they will appreciate some shade in the hottest part of the day during very hot summers.

To flower profusely, they need fertile, moist,t but well-drained soil. Fuchsia magellanica Lam (Onagraceae) is a native plant of the Andean-Patagonian region, and it is also naturalized in Argentina and other parts of the world.

Leaves are used for treating indigestion and stomachache, as a sedative, for difficult delivery, and as an antiemmenagogue.

9. Delphinium

best perennials for northern california

Delphinium is a genus of about 300 species of annual and perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa. The genus was erected by Carl Linnaeus.

Delphinium is an herb. People use the flower to make medicine. Despite serious safety concerns, delphinium is used to treat intestinal worms, fluid retention, poor appetite, and trouble sleeping (insomnia). It is also used as a sedative to cause relaxation.

For best results, grow delphiniums in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Delphiniums are tall plants, so they do best at the back of a sunny border. Avoid windy spots, as wind can blow the plants over.

10. Island Pink

california perennial flowers

Achillea millefolium ‘Island Pink ‘ is a perennial Yarrow that spreads by rhizomes. Island Pink is native to Santa Cruz Island and is distinguished from our common White Yarrow by its bright pink flowers.

Dark green feathery foliage is topped with clusters of bright pink flowers on 1-1/2′ tall stems over a long season. Plant in full to partial sun in most soil types and irrigate occasionally. The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies, and the plant is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, including deer, foot traffic, near coastal exposure, and alkaline and clay soils.

It is a low-fuel plant for fire-safe plantings and can be mowed for use as a lawn substitute planting.


Choosing the best perennials for Southern California is essential for several compelling reasons. Firstly, perennials adapted to the region’s Mediterranean climate require less water, thereby conserving this scarce resource and reducing the environmental impact. Secondly, these plants offer sustainability as they thrive year after year, providing lasting beauty and reducing the need for frequent replanting.

For a stunning California garden, the best perennials include rock rose and rose mallow, both celebrated for their beautiful flowers and resilience in the summer heat and poor soils. These plants offer a long bloom season, with flowers blooming from tubular flowers to spider flower shapes, adding both ground cover and striking vertical interest with flower spikes.

Overall, these perennials ensure continuous color and texture, enhancing any Southern California landscape with their robustness and vibrant displays.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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