Growing Drought Tolerant Plants and Trees

Drought Resistant Plants and Trees For a More Sustainable Lawn

When we strive to maintain earth friendly yards, choosing the right plants is as important as learning ways to maintain them.  Selecting indigenous grasses and ground covers will reduce your need for extra fertilizers and pesticides, but that often is just part of the picture.  If you want to reduce the amount of water you need for your lawn and yard, select drought tolerant plants.  Turf grasses and plants that are drought tolerant often can survive with just the water Mother Nature provides; rain, if summer weather is mild.  Even if you experience hot, dry weather for a long period of time, drought resistant plants need less water then other varieties.  Some drought resistant grasses will go into a dormant state, storing reserves in their root system, and survive on just an inch or two of water every two or three weeks.

Ask someone at your local nursery or county extension about the best varieties of drought resistant plants for your region and property.  Keep the unique aspects of your landscape in mind such as light conditions, soil type, and slope.

Many drought tolerant plants share certain characteristics that allow them to survive longer periods with small amounts of water. Many of these plants continue to look esthetically pleasing even in high temperatures while others might move into a dormant state until rainy, cooler weather. The cactus family is the most famous group of water conserving vegetation, and there are many other grasses, plants, and trees to choose from.  Look for some of the following traits to help you identify likely candidates.

  • Small waxy leaves (large leaves offer a larger area for water to be lost)
  • Thick, hairy leaves – lambs ear is a good example
  • Muted colors –silver, gray or bluish-green foliage
  • Thin or narrow leaves – oriental grass
  • Prickly leaves
  • Thick leaves and stems, or plants with no leaves
  • Long, wide-spreading root systems (beneficial for slope planting)

We’ve put together a partial list of drought resistant grasses, ground covers and landscaping plants.  Remember to ask about the best choices for your area.  Many of the flowering plants show blossoms in the spring so they can take advantage of the early rains, others have smaller flowers.

Drought resistant grasses

  • Blue Fescue
  • Creeping Red Fescue (prefers shade)
  • Plume Grass
  • Feather Reed Grass
  • Eulalia
  • Switch Grass
  • Foxtail Grass
  • Bermuda Grass

Drought resistant ground covers and landscape Plants

  • Yarrow
  • Blue Grama
  • Seaside Daisy
  • Alpine Strawberry
  • Texas Meadow Sedge
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Blue Star
  • Wormwood
  • Heather
  • Sedge
  • Tickseed
  • Goldenstar
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Blanket Flower
  • Daylily
  • Lamb’s Ears
  • Periwinkle
  • Rockrose
  • Creeping Barberry
  • Dymondia
  • St Johns Wort
  • Juniper
  • Lantana
  • Rosemary
  • Asiatic Jasmine

This is only a short list of drought tolerant plants.  You can enjoy a wide variety of shades, sizes, and colors all while conserving water and living green.






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References

Norther Drought Resistant Plants. Retrieved May 10, 2010. uvm EXT:http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/pubs/oh73drought.htm

Drought Tolerant Plants. Retrieved May 14, 2010. Sea Grant California: http://www.csgc.ucsd.edu/BOOKSTORE/Resources/GS2%20Drought%20Tolerant%20Plants_8-7-09.pdf

Leaf Characteristics of Drought Tolerant Plants. Retrieved May 11, 2010. Purdue Extension: http://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/ppdl/weeklypics/5-3-10.html

Rodriguez David., Drought and Drough Stress on South Texas Landscape Plants. Retrieved May 11, 2010. San Antonio Express News: Gardening ETC: http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/HomeHort/F1Column/2006%20Articles/MAY21.htm

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