It’s almost as if Summer is in full swing; the song sparrows are chirping all day and the blooms have attracted an abundance of pollinators. Early pollinators are happily buzzing in the air. In our continually dry summers, it is more important than ever to be water conscientious. Consider incorporating plants into your landscape that use less water (once established) and you’ll spend less time on maintenance as well. Drought tolerant plants aren’t just perennials, you can choose from ground covers, shrubs, and trees. These plants are known to have adapted to heat stress and low watering needs. However, keep in mind drought tolerant does not necessarily mean you don’t need to water at all, especially in our hottest months.
I should mention drought-tolerant and drought-resistant are two different categories. They are similar and both will help with water conservation but drought-resistant plants can survive in a perpetual state of drought (like some forms of cacti) and require virtually no maintenance. Whereas drought-tolerant landscaping is landscaping that can tolerate periods of droughts but may require some level of watering to survive.
There are several perennials and shrubs that are considered drought tolerant. All varieties of Crocosmia perform well as drought tolerant bulbs. Perhaps the reason I adore ‘Red Lucifer’ Crocosmia is because my garden is constantly buzzing with hummingbirds and pollinators. In the evening I sit out on the patio and watch the hummingbirds energetically dancing around them. There is also a newer hybrid, ‘Little Red’ Crocosmia, a dwarf variety that doesn’t require staking, like the other varieties.
Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’ is a tried-and-true drought tolerant plant that has long lasting blooms. Rudbeckia also attracts butterflies and other beneficial pollinators and might be the most consistently used perennial by landscapers but works well in any size landscape. These flowers also make great additions (or main interest) for floral displays, and deadheading encourages continual bloom into the fall months.
It’s hard not to mention Lavender. A fragrant and easy to maintain plant that comes in an abundance of varieties. ‘Hidcote’ Lavender is an English variety that has deep purple-blue flowers, a long bloom time which is great for drying. Lavendula angustifolia (Common English Lavender) is also a popular choice. This evergreen shrub loves full sun and is deer resistant. (just remember to prune the flower stalks in the fall)
Some customers and landscapers are switching to Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is the process of landscaping that reduces or negates the need for any irrigation once the plants are established. Some plants work better than others for Xeriscaping, Verbascum (mullein) has several colors and varieties to choose from. Asclepias (Butterfly weed) also work well. In general, for best results use a Lane Forest Products mulch or compost to help with moisture retention. This will ensure your plants also are given some nutrients for a healthy garden and your plants will thank you during the heat of the summer.
Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist