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Plants WE love

The Staff Picks highlights our favorites. Unlike the Blue Ribbon or Happy Medium lists, the qualifications for inclusion in this category are subjective:

  • Did we look forward to seeing how it was doing at each visit?
  • Does it make us smile?
  • Would we (did we) take this home? 

Some plants on this list, like the Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' and Bulbine 'Tiny Tangerine', are widely applicable to many gardens and landscapes and are interesting over long seasons. Others, like Kniphofia 'Christmas Cheer' and Neomarica caerulea, have shorter seasons of interest but with high impact from their extraordinary flowers. Whether flower color or fragrance attracted us or support for pollinators delighted us, these were the plants that made our heart sing. 

As with our other lists:

  • Plants are listed alphabetically by scientific name
  • Plant material was evaluated in full sun or under 50% shade cloth
  • All plants were evaluated in Davis CA (WUCOLS Region 2)
  • The average Overall Appearance rating on the recommended irrigation rate during the deficit treatment season is listed as Mean O/A Score (based on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is highest)
  • Irrigation recommendations are classified according to WUCOLS IV Categories of Water Needs- H:High; M: Moderate/Medium; L: Low
  • printer friendly pdf version: UCLPIT Staff Picks
Scientific Name Common Name Exposure Mean O/A Score WUCOLS Category Trial Year
Acacia boormani Snowy River wattle Sun 4.9 Low 2009
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' Blonde Ambition blue gramma grass Sun 4.2 Low 2016
Bulbine 'Tiny Tangerine' Tiny Tangerine bulbine Sun 4.6 Low 2011
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' Karl Foerster feather reed grass Sun 4.2 Low 2013
Dianthus 'KLEDG10119' EverLast™ Orchid dianthus Sun 3.6 Medium 2014
Dietes bicolor 'African Gold' Pure Gold® dietes Sun 4.1 Low 2018
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' Biokovo cranesbill 50% Shade 3.3 Low 2017
Helleborus ‘Red Lady’ Red Lady Lenten rose 50% Shade 3.3 Medium 2011
Heuchera rosada pink coral bells Sun - Medium 2007
Iris 'Canyon Snow' Canyon Snow Pacific hybrid iris Sun 3.9 Medium 2009
Kniphofia 'Christmas Cheer' Christmas Cheer red hot poker Sun 3.3 Medium 2013
Lagerstroemia indica 'Deleb' Delta Eclipse™ crapemyrtle Sun 4.1 Low 2018
Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’ Sunshine privet 50% Shade 4.8 Low 2011
Lomandra longifolia 'Lomlon' Lime Tuff dwarf mat rush Sun 4.2 Low 2014
Lygeum spartum False esparto grass Sun 4.5 Low 2017
Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' Soft Caress Chinese mahonia 50% Shade 3.9 Medium 2016
Neomarica caerulea Walking iris 50% Shade 3.9 Low 2013
Rosa ‘Korbin’ Iceberg rose Sun 4.2 Medium 2011
Rosa 'KORsixkono' Kardinal Kolorscape® rose Sun 4.1 Low 2015
Rosa 'Meijocos' Pink Drift® rose Sun 3.9 Low 2016
Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' Hot Lips sage Sun 4 Medium 2013