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16 SURPRISINGLY DROUGHT-TOLERANT PLANTS

Updated: Jul 22

Whether your area is experiencing drought or you're just looking to cut back on your water using drought tolerant plants will get you through the summer—and then some. With options for Zones 2–11, there's sure to be something for everyone! Photo by: Ken Druse.


Drought-tolerant plants can be identified just by looking at them or feeling or smelling their bruised foliage. Many fragrant herbs, for example, are drought-tolerant. Plants that are native to sunny parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean, are obvious choices. Their leaves are often small, sometimes needlelike—those of lavender, for instance. Their leaves may be arranged in whorls on tall, slender stems so that each one gathers light without shading the next one down on the stem. The leaves may have some moisture-conserving device, such as hairs, a waxy coating, or powder. Some leaves are so reflective they look almost metallic. Don’t forget, many spring bulbs actually prefer dry sites in summer. These plants become dormant in summer and store water in their modified stem: the bulb.


Establishing drought-tolerant plants: Even though plants are labeled drought tolerant or drought resistant, they still need to be watered deeply (to a depth of 6-12") and regularly (daily for a week, then every other day for a week, then every 2–3 days), for their first season to become established—and up to 3-5 years for larger trees and shrubs. Eventually allow your plants to dry out slightly between watering to toughen roots and encourage them to seek out water; making them more self-sufficient. Deeper watering encourages deeper roots; shallow watering causes weak, shallow roots that dry out quickly. Even after established, most plants will look much better with an occasional deep summer watering.


 Larkspur and nigella (love-in-a-mist) look very similar coming up from winter-sown seeds. The fine leaves look almost like dill. Morning Glory can wilt and come back time after time. Portulaca is a succulent, actually a member of the same family as jade plant. Annual sunflowers and sunflower relatives grew up in tall grass prairies of southern North America. Achillea (yarrow) is another plant with tiny foliage. It will do poorly without hot, baking sun. See the article for more https://www.gardendesign.com/water-wise/drought-tolerant-plants.html?utm_source=article-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Drought-Tolerant-Plants-7-16-20



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