All plants require some maintenance. Even drought tolerant plants must be watered for awhile (1 to 3 years) until they establish a good root system in the native soil which can supply the water they require.
Selecting plants is similar to buying clothes and depends a lot on personal preference. One person may like a particular plant and another person may not. It’s helpful to look at plants at a nursery or botanic garden and learn more about them from a reference like the Sunset Western Garden Book. You can see a variety of plants at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon or online at www.thegarden.org. Information on native plants is available from the California Native Plants Society http://www.cnpssd.org/ and from native plant nurseries like Tree of Life www.californianativeplants.com and Las Pilitas http://www.laspilitas.com/ . You may also wish to visit the fire-safe demonstration gardens next to the Elfin Forest volunteer fire station located on Elfin Forest Road between Elfin Forest Lane and Fortuna del Este. It is set up for self-guided tours and is open daily. The fire-safe exhibit at San Diego Botanical Gardens includes about 100 plant specimens. The exhibit is near the Ecke Building and is open daily with an admission fee.
By V. Lazaneo, Urban Horticulture Advisor, Emeritus, UC Cooperative Extension, August 2012