Low-water garden plants an option in drought-heavy areas

Low-water garden plants are a smart choice for those who live in areas that often deal with drought. Courtesy and Kim Harris photos

FALLBROOK – Coping with drought is a way of life for many people across North America. The National Climatic Data Center, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), works cooperatively with Canada and Mexico to monitor climate and drought conditions across the continent.

According to the NOAA, the globally-averaged temperature for 2013 tied as the fourth warmest year since 1880, when record-keeping began. 2013 also marked the 37th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. Warm temperatures, when paired with below-average precipitation, can quickly escalate and cause drought, making things difficult for those who make their livelihood by working the land or even just weekend gardeners.

Low-water garden plants are a smart choice for those who live in areas that often deal with drought. These resilient plants can keep gardens looking lush and beautiful regardless of water restrictions. In fact, low-water gardening has become a popular trend among eco-conscious gardeners and even is a cost-saving measure for homeowners.

Establishing a garden of drought-tolerant plants requires knowledge of hardiness zones and which plants will thrive in certain areas. Native plants, in general, will be more tolerant to fluctuations in weather than plants that are imported. Contact a garden center and speak with someone knowledgeable about plants that will do well in low-water conditions. In addition, choose plants that have a reputation for drought resistance.

Butterfly bush is very hardy and requires little water. Although it is considered an invasive plant in some areas, gardeners who keep on top of seedlings and off-shoots can keep the plant in control. This shrub will create an enormous amount of flowers that will appear in the spring and will continue to bloom throughout the summer. The butterfly bush also attracts scores of butterflies to a landscape.

Pink evening primrose is full of delicate, pink flowers that spread on runners. It prefers dry soils, and even though it can thrive when soil quality is poor, it cannot tolerate soil that is too wet. It can grow in USDA zones five to nine. A variety of sage plants, including white sage, black sage and Cleveland sage, are drought-tolerant and do well in climates like Southern California’s. These plants produce blooms that attract insects and birds alike.

Gardeners who would like relatively low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants can opt for succulents. Succulents, which include aloe, cacti and jade, are characterized by thick, fleshy water-storage organs. Succulents prefer bright light and can thrive in south-facing conditions. It’s good to concentrate the most amount of watering for succulents during the spring growing season. Keep soil well-drained to avoid damage to shallow roots.

Heed landscape conditions when selecting plants for the garden. Drought-tolerant plants are a good idea in those regions where weather is naturally arid or if homeowners prefer plants that can grow regardless of seasonal water restrictions.

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