DROUGHT RESISTANT PLANTS
BY GLADYS JEURINK
plant needs some water in order to get its roots down and get accustomed
to its soil. Since they are usually small to start, hand watering is
possible if they are in a “desert area”. Many of my drought
resistant ones are planted in the parkway, between the sidewalk and the
street, where the area dries rapidly.
(compositae) is doing well
there for me. In fact the ones in the backyard grow too fast and often
need staking. There are many colors from white to red, and some change
colors as they age. They can be cut back quite severely and will bloom
again in about a month. Squeeze
the leaves between your fingers as they are aromatic. Do this very
cautiously the first time as some people develop a skin rash on contact.
In history they have been used to treat wounds, control pain and reduce
plants with gray leaves or fuzzy ones are likely to have low water
needs. “Lambs Ears” (stachys)
will die out if their roots remain wet for very long.
Some even recommend cutting the foliage off after frost so that
it will not mat and keep roots wet during winter.
I have two kinds of fuzzy gray “Lambs Ears”. The new one has
bigger and thicker fuzz on the leaves.
I have never been impressed by the blooms so cut them off as soon
as they appear. They spread
by runners and can be divided in spring.
Kids like to “pet” the leaves.
of gray leaves is the “Artemisias” (compositae).
There are many in this group of all sizes.
None of which can stand wet roots, especially in winter.
Most of mine are planted in the “hell strip” between the
sidewalk and the street. This
is the area where I have my “gray garden”. My favorite is the “
Mound” is another “petting" plant 12 to 18 inches high and
wide. It has a tendency to flop in the center.
Just the opposite in size is “Morning Light” which will grow
to 6 feet tall if you let it. It
has bi-colored leaves and sends out many!!! root runners to surprise you
the next spring. During the
summer I cut it back at least twice which makes it branch very thickly.
No weeds can survive below this! I like it as a background for
the deep purple “Wave Petunias” (solanacea).
(Rudbeckias) of all kinds are
drought resistant once they have a good start and there are some new and
different ones to choose from. In
a good location they will seed to expand their territory. They are also
called “Black-eyed Susans” in spite of being different species.
There are single and double flowered ones ranging from 10 inches
(Becky) to giant “Rudbeckia maxima” which gets 9 feet tall in my
yard with bluish foliage. I
like “Indian Summer” with its huge golden blooms.
It sometimes acts as an annual in
Coneflowers” are native Americans, very hardy to zone 3, and are in
the genus “Echinacea”. The
Greek “echinos” means hedgehog.
Just run your fingers over that cone and you will see why.
“White Swan” is a shorter plant, about 2 feet tall and not as likely
to come back every year. They are prairie natives and can stand heat and
drought because of their deep tap root.
The plains Indians used the root on wounds, insect bites and as a
mouthwash. They also made a tea and drank it to treat a number of
diseases. “Pale Coneflower” has a lighter pink flower whose petals
One of the
brightest early summer bloomers is “Butterfly Milkweed” (Asilepsias
tuberosa). The flowers are an orange-red and the plant grows between
2 to 3 feet tall. It is beloved by Monarch butterflies and has a deep
taproot. This makes it difficult to transplant but protects it from
drought. Mine do best in
full sun in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street.
We need more plantings for the Monarchs as they travel north in
summer and back south for the winter. This is one of the few plants in
Sage” (Perouskin atriplicifolia)
is another gray plant that has tiny purple flowers on long spikes that
last a long time. They grow
about 3 feet high in zone 5 with silvery foliage. There is now a shorter
version but it is just as fussy about having wet feet-becoming fatal if
it occurs during winter. The roots are so tough it’s almost impossible
to divide without hurting the plant but you can start cuttings for new
plants. They also have small off sets you can dig up.
You will have trouble finding any seeds and if you do, the
offspring will not be exactly like your original plant.