drought resistant

Drought Resistant Gardens

Is your garden drought resistant?

What’s the weather forecast? Serious information for gardeners regardless of where you live!

This summer, we west coast gardeners have been forecast with extra-hot, extra-dry summer conditions that can wreak havoc on our gardens. Luckily, we can have a wonderful range of adaptable and drought resistant plants to keep our gardens looking healthy and lush.

What Is Drought?

Usually dry spells are normal, because weather is variable. But when they continue week after week, month after month, it depletes all the moisture in the soil – then you’re dealing with a drought.

Watering becomes an endless and expensive chore. You may live in a municipality that has drought restrictions (ours already does), and can’t water at all. So what’s a gardener to do?

drought resistant

Add drought tolerant plants!

A drought mimics desert conditions, but it’s temporary. We need plants that thrive in both drought conditions and wetter seasons (like the spring and winter here on BC’s west coast).

So don’t rush to plant a bunch of cacti or agave. Sure, they’re drought resistant plants. But when the rain returns, they can drown. The key is to have plants that can handle both weather conditions. They can shrug off a drought; yet do very well with ample rainfall as well.

When’s the best time to drought-proof your garden? Get plants in the ground well before a dry spell hits. Head out to the garden center and start adding some drought resistant perennials to your garden.

Even these plants need moisture to get their roots established. Expect to water new drought tolerant perennials for a full year, while they grow a root system that can weather a rain-scarce season.

Below the ground, deep roots help a plant get through dry times. Taproots go deep, as do the fibrous roots of many prairie plants, so they’re able to draw up moisture even when the top foot of soil is bone dry.

Look at the Leaves

If a plant has big leaves or lots of smaller ones, even a very deep root system or tap root will have trouble bringing up enough moisture for the top growth. Tomatoes, for instance, wilt very quickly in a drought, as do hollyhocks.

Drought-tolerant plants have all sorts of defenses to prevent water from being lost through their leaves. That’s why leaves are the No. 1 clue to how well plants will survive a scarcity of water.

Does it have big green leaves and lush foliage? Times will probably be tough when drought sets in.

Does it have small leaves and fewer of them? Much less water is needed, so this one may be a good choice.drought resistant

What about leaves with a coating of fuzz or a waxy layer? These are great adaptations that drought tolerant plants have developed to prevent water loss.

Start Planting

Check with your garden center and a local native-plants group to find drought resistant flowers and plants for your area. Some of my favorites are sea holly, lavender, coreopsis, fuzzy lamb’s ears, and woolly thyme.

It can take time to switch your plants over to drought-resilient varieties, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind when adding new perennials to your garden. And it’s a good goal to have in general.

After all, if you get the right plants in place now, your garden will look glorious no matter how stingy nature is with water.

This article has been adapted from:

Head on over there, and find a list of 40 drought resistant flowering plants you can likely find in your own local nursery.

Happy Gardening!


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