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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some Like It Hot

Plants that Tolerate Dry Conditions

Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Gardening

I find it interesting when people ask me what types of plants are good in hot dry locations; we live on the west coast where it rains an average of 166 days with over 47 inches of rain (Vancouver/Richmond) per year.

This is not a dry climate... however there are times when we do not get the rain and temperatures can hover in the 30's for short periods. What perennials can we grow that will take the rain but also tolerate short periods of hot dry conditions?

A True Waterwise Garden

True "desert type" plants that will take extended periods of heat and drought do not fare well here unless grown in pots or under special conditions, they include cacti, succulents and those special plants adapted to specific desert-like environs. Many plants that have adapted to these conditions shut down or go dormant which makes them not very appealing to the average west coast gardener. Gardeners want to see their plants thriving, covered in lush growth during the summer months not bare or dormant.

So what can we grow that will give us the best of both worlds? I will divide the plants into two categories, R- those that require dry periods and T- those that will tolerate it.

R - Type Plants

Those perennials that require drier conditions to thrive are a challenge to grow in the lower mainland as we are a temperate rainforest and get far too much rainfall. To grow these plants they will need a very warm, sunny (or part shade) location with excellent drainage to carry away any excess moisture from the root zone.

Placing plants against rock/stone walls or along pathways of similar material affords them additional radiated heat and planting in raised beds or on slopes gives them the extra drainage they need. They should require little in the way of water except of course when they are first planted. Once plants are well established (at least 1 season) they should survive with just natural rainfall or minimal watering.

ice plant

Hardy Ice Plant

Delosperma spp.

This succulent type perennial comes from South Africa, it forms a low mat of fleshy evergreen leaves. Abundant starry flowers produced atop the plants appear from late spring into fall. Makes an excellent groundcover for hot, dry areas; requires sharp drainage in full sun. Height: 5-10cm Spread: 30-45cm Zone: 5

ice plant

Foxtail Lily

Eremurus spp.

Also called desert candles these spectacular perennials hail from central and western Asia. Foliage resembles a low clump of soft yucca-like green to blue-green leaves. Tall flowering stems (to 3m+) are topped by bottlebrush flower-spikes that range in colour from white, yellow, peach, orange and pink; early to mid summer. Like many drought tolerant plants they may go completely dormant after flowering. Plants require full sun and prefer sandy soil that is sharply drained as the roots are prone to winter root rot. Height: 1.25-3m Spread: 60cm Zone: 5

T - Type Plants

The second group includes perennials that like our moist climate, especially in the spring where it is needed for new growth and flowering, but will tolerate short periods of dryness, usually during the summer. That being said they will stress during very hot periods and should be watered to maintain health.

ice plant

Siberian Bugloss

Brunnera macrophylla var.

What versatile, bold and elegant perennials these are. Large heart-shaped foliage in a variety of colours and markings make them indispensible in the shade garden or mixed container. Once established they tolerate competition with large plants (see example below) and will even perform quite well through a drier summer. However they do require moisture especially during the peak growing period (spring) and can thrive quite nicely in moister environments. Sapphire blue, pink or white forget-me-not flowers eclipse the emerging growth for several weeks in early spring. Prefers a cool, shady site in humus rich soil but again if plants are established they will tolerate dry periods. Height: 40-50cm Spread: 60cm Zone: 4

 

ice plant

Barrenwort

Epimedium spp.

Invaluable plants often planted as ground-cover in difficult shady sites and can hold their own amongst larger established plants. Many selections are available with innumerable leaf forms, size and colouring both evergreen and deciduous. Flowers are available to suit almost any fancy and are heralds to the coming spring. It has been noted that they are somewhat deer resistant... however the younger members of what I call "giant 4-legged slugs" always want to taste test, so no plant is really safe. A great low maintenance perennial. Their preference is a shady site in rich well-drained loamy soil. Height/Spread: variable Zone: 4+

Here are some more drought tolerant R Type Perennials:

  • Echeveria
  • Echium
  • Eryngium
  • Kniphofia
  • Lavandula
  • Lewisia
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum

More T Type Perennials

  • Achillea
  • Artemisia
  • Amsonia
  • Arabis
  • Caryopteris
  • Cynara
  • Dianthus
  • Euphorbia
  • Gaillardia
  • Hemerocallis
  • Iberis
  • Perovskia
  • Solidago
  • Stachys

Art's Nursery carries a large and diverse selection of drought tolerant perennials, plants and shrubs. Please call ahead (604.882.1201) to confirm availability of specific varieties as our stock and selection are always changing.


Monday, August 13, 2012
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Feature Products

Now that the summer heat is finally here, it's a great time to look at plants that love the hot and dry locations of our yards. While there are many to choose from, these eight really caught our attention this year.

Artichoke Agave

Artichoke Agave

Agave parryi var truncata
Dense symetrical rosettes of wide blue-gray leaves are abundant, developing large clumps. The rosette from which the flower spike emerges dies after flowering, though the plant is perpetuated by the 'pups' or offshoots. A bright accent in the water-wise landscape or a nice groundcover when mass planted. Hardy in zones 7-9. Should be planted in coarse, well drained soil in the full sun. Also excellent in a pot or container. Needs protection from excessive winter moisture. Limited quantities available.
Cider Gum

Cider Gum

Eucalyptus gunnii
Blue-green coin shaped juvenil foliage is attractive and can be used as cut foliage in arrangements. Dense, upright growing habut is useful for screening and as a street tree in warm, mild climates. Creamy white flowers grace the tree in spring. Dark green lance shaped foliage is common when mature. Evergreen in mild climates. Fast growing to 40-50ft tall and 20-30ft wide. Should be planted in full sun in well drained soil. Hardy in zones 8-10. Limited quantities available.

Yucca gloriosa variegata

Variegated Spanish Dagger

Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'
Rigid blue green leaves are bordered with gold when new eventually becoming rich cream. Striking when used in a low water environment or spotted in flower beds for contrasting colour and texture. Evergreen. Should be planted in full sun and well drained soils. Hardy in zones 6-11.
Arbequina Spanish Olive

Arbequina Olive

Olea europaea 'Arbequina'
This valuable Spanish Olive is prized for its hardiness, its very early bearing, and its tasty fruit that is high in oil. Can bear 20+ lbs of fruit when mature. Hardy enough to be grown outdoors in most regions west of the Cascade or Coast Mountains. It is an attractive, evergreen plant, naturally compact in growth habit and is even suitable for containers. Should be planted in full sun, in well drained soils. Grows to 10ft in height. Hardy to 10F. Limited quantities available.
Echeveria Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy Echeveria

Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy'
An intriguing succulent with pale blue-gray leaves that curve upward, adding a unique texture to rock gardens and borders. Well suited for containers. Quite drought tolerant once established. Bright orange and yellow flowers rise above the foliage in late summer and fall. Should be planted in full sun and well drained soil. Grows 8-12 inches tall and wide. Hardy in zones 9-11. Prove winter protection or bring indoors during the cooler, wetter months.
Baja Agave

Baja Agave

Agave 'Baja'
A dwarf form of Agave with attractive blue-gray foliage and fine teeth on the outer edge of leaves. It has been known to take a light frost, but is probably best as a container plant, then protected for the winter. Should be planted in full sun and well drained soil. Hardy to zone 8-9
Pink Stonecrop

Pink Stonecrop

Sedum rubrotinctum 'Aurora'
A unique low, cascading plant with plump, oblong leaves. Foliage is light green and heavily tinged pink. Yellow-white flowers appear in summer. A perfect choice for the rock garden, between stepping stones or in the crevices of dry walls. Attracts butterflies. Drought tolerant once established. Grows to 6 inches in height and 18-36 inches in width. Hardy in zones 9-11. Winter protection is required. Plant in full sun and well drained soils.
Sundowner New Zealand Flax

Sundowner New Zealand Flax

Phormium tenax 'Sundowner'
Long, arching bronze-green leaves have coral red margins and streaks. A great specimen for adding unique color and texture to the landscape. Foliage great for cut arrangements. Evergreen. Plant in full sun and well drained soil. Hardy in zones 8-11 - provide winter protection. Grows up to 5ft tall and 4-5ft wide.

As you may have noticed, many of these plants are marginally hardy or tender in our climate. We recommend you pot them in containers that can be moved indoors or plant them in sheltered areas where they can be protected in winter. Otherwise, consider them annuals and treat yourself to a few new ones next year!

Quantities of these items may be limited or only seasonally available. Please call 604.882.1201 in advance to confirm availability if you are making a special trip to visit us.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

We pride ourselves on providing high quality plant, expert advice and an exceptional gardening experience.

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