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Thursday, July 9, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Gardening

Weeks without rain, smaller than average winter snow packs, higher than normal summer temperatures and more people than ever before have put an undue strain on Metro Vancouver’s water supply.

We all have to do what we can to preserve our water resources. Lawn watering is one of the biggest consumers of fresh water and that’s why summer watering restrictions have become the norm. At time of writing, Metro Vancouver is at Stage 2, meaning you can only water your lawn once per week, and only in the morning. You are still allowed to hand water your flower beds, vegetable gardens and containers as necessary. With that said, it is important to plan our gardens to minimize our water use. The easiest way to do this is by making sure we simply put the right plant in the right place. You can also water effectively. Check out this Youtube Video on Summer Watering Techniques

While many plants are drought tolerant once established, they still need ample moisture until their roots grow and become established. The plants mentioned in this post need less water than others. So without further ado, here is a collection of great drought tolerant plants for your garden.

Drought Tolerant Perennials

Sedums

Sedum

An often underused perennial group, Sedums are a succulent that stores water in its leaves. They available in upright and spreading varieties in a number of different colours. Flowers appear in late summer in shades of white, yellow, pink or near red depending on the variety. Tough and dependable. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Growth can be up to 1-2ft in height and spread.

Lavender | Lavandula

Lavender

Lavandula

Lavender is one of the most popular perennials for the summer garden. Thin green-gray stems give way to violet-lavender coloured blooms. Both foliage and flowers are fragrant. Great drought tolerance make it ideal for hot and dry areas. It can also be used as a cut flower. Full sun and well drained soils are recommended. Use as a specimen, an informal low edge, in rock gardens or in containers.

Echincea | Coneflower

Coneflower

Echinacea

Echinaceas or Coneflowers are popular summer blooming perennials that grow in attractive clumps. Growers have spent countless hours hybridizing Echinaceas to create dozens of new varieties. The classic Echinacea is light pink to purple in colour. Newer varieties are available in a multitude of colours including yellow, orange, red, white and even green. These drought tolerant perennials prefer full sun and well drained soils.

Kniphofia | Red Hot Poker Plant

Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia

Red Hot Poker plants have grass-like green foliage and tall flower spikes in shades of yellow, orange and red. Flowers are often described as ‘torch-like’. Prefers sun and well drained soil.

Euphorbia

Euphorbia

A large group of semi-evergreen perennials originally from the Mediterranean. Euphorbias feature vertical or arching stems that are borne from a single crown. Stems tend to be bare at the base and leafy near the top. Flower heads are attractively unique and eye-catching. May need the occasional hard prune to keep it looking nice. Available in many varieties and colours. Gives a great hot climate look to the garden. Prefers full sun and well drained soils. Size and spread differ by variety.

Perovskia | Russian Sage

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Long upright light coloured stems and flowers in shades of purplish blue give Russian Sage a boost in the drought tolerant garden. This attractive, yet tough plant tolerates cold, poor soil and drought! Needs full sun and a well drained soil.

Artemisia

Tough, hardy and reliable Artemisia is a great perennial for the drought tolerant garden. White to silvery gray foliage gives a clue to its drought tolerance. Foliage can be either finely delicate to coarse. A trouble free, low maintenance plant for the full sun and well drained soil.

Catmint

Nepeta x faassenii

A perfect perennial for rock gardens, containers and borders. Aromatic foliage and flowers attract butterflies and bees. Catmint blooms from early summer to early fall. Grows 1-3ft high and wide, depending on the variety.

Rosemary | Rosmarinus

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

This popular edible is often used as a kitchen herb more than an ornamental plant. Pine needle-like foliage is highly aromatic and can grow up to 5ft tall depending on variety. Needs full sun and well drained soil. Can be grown in the garden or in a pot. Harvest as needed for the kitchen! May need some winter protection if the temperatures get low or too wet.

Sempervivum | Hens and Chicks

Hens n Chicks

Sempervivum

Low growing, rosette forming evergreen perennials ideal for use as groundcovers, in rock gardens on vertical walls. Single hens give birth to chicks allowing the plant to grow into clumps 1-2ft wide over time. Plant in groups for great effect. Likes full sun and well drained soils.

Drought Tolerant Ornamental Grasses

While many ornamental grasses are low maintenance and waterwise, these four are some of our favourites.

Mexican Feather Grass | Stipa | Nassella

Mexican Feather Grass

Stipa tenuissima

Wispy thin green blades give way to golden tan, almost blonde summer flower heads. This lovely warm season grass forms clumps 1-2ft tall and wide. Very drought tolerant and beautiful when planted in groups.

Helictotrichon | Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass

Helictotrichon sempervirens

Blue Oat Grass is an upright growing, clump forming grass with stiff blue-gray blades. Blonde flower clusters form above the foliage. Clumps can grow 2-3ft tall and wide. Very commonly used in boulevards and low maintenance landscapes. Prefers full sun and well drained soils.

Festuca | Fescue

Fescue

Festuca

Fescues are a large group of low growing, clumping forming, drought tolerant grasses with silvery, blue-gray foliage. Great when planted in groups in rock gardens or when used as an accent plant. As a warm season grass, it can be cut back in spring. Tolerates sun or part sun.

Pampas Grass | Cortaderia

Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana

An ever popular clump forming plant, Pampas Grass is a native of South America and features stiff, sharp blades with clumps of feathery white to pink flowers held on top of tall spikes. Grows quickly and can reach 8ft tall depending on variety. Prefers sun to part shade and well drained soil.

Other Drought Tolerant Plants

California Lilac | Ceanothus

California Lilac

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

This attractive and popular evergreen features glossy, dark green foliage and blue bottle-brush like flowers in late spring through early summer. Loves the sun and well drained soil. Needs very little water once established. Grows to form a mid-sized shrub 6-12ft tall and wide. Looks good all year round and does well in seaside locations too. May need from winter protection if it gets cold. A sheltered location away from wind and wet weather is ideal.

Juniper | Juniperus

Junipers

Juniperus

While we can’t honestly say they are our favourite conifers, Junipers are particularly well suited to dry environments. They are available in many types, ranging from large upright growing trees to ground-hugging, spreading varieties. Colour is typically green to blue-gray depending on the variety

Yucca

Yuccas

These desert plants have spiky, pointed leaves and do well with very little water. They grow a long taproot and can usually find the water they need on their own. Large white flower spikes add interest when they bloom in early summer. Several varieties are commonly available including ones with variegated foliage. Full sun and well-drained soil are necessary. While they can tolerate our winter temperatures, it is often too wet for them – make sure they do not sit in wet soil during the cooler months.

Agave

Agave

Another plant from the desert, Agaves are succulents with beautiful, structural shapes that make them ideal for modern gardens. Wicked spikes and thorns force people and pets to keep their distance from these plants. Needs exceptionally well drained soils in our climate. It’s probably best planted in containers that can be protected during the winter. Many varieties and sizes of Agave are available.

Bougainvillea Vine

Bougainvillea

This vibrant, twining vine has beautifully coloured, papery flowers in summer. Flower colour ranges peachy-yellow through red , all the way to purple. Nasty thorns on the vine make it an ideal barrier plant. Needs full sun and dry, well drained soil. Does exceptionally well in desert locations. We find that it thrives on neglect and may survive our mild winters when given shelter and good drainage.

While there are many other drought tolerant plants available at Art’s Nursery, these selections give you a sense of the variety and options that are available for your garden. If you have any questions about being water-wise, give us a call or drop by and visit us in person. As always, call ahead to confirm availability as our selection is always changing.


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.


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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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