When you hear the words “drought-resistant plants” I bet an image of a desert vividly appears in your imagination. All you can see for miles is cacti, sand, and stone. You may even break into a slight sweat as you begin to feel the sweltering heat. As a property owner or manager, you will find great comfort in the fact that your landscape does not have to look like the Sahara Desert when summer arrives. There are dozens of drought-resistant plants that bring color, texture, and beauty to the landscape – even in the most extreme conditions.
What are Drought Resistant Plants?
The term drought-resistant can have a number of meanings. It can mean that the plants have adapted to high heat for extended periods. It can also mean that those particular plants can survive on less than normal amounts of rain or water. Incorporating plants that can tolerate extrememe temperatures with low water requirements helps to create a more sustainable landscape. Water-smart planting choices can also save commercial property owenrs money by reducing the need for additional water.
How to Create Drought Resistant Landscapes
Plants need time to establish before they can really show off their resistant character. Planting in early spring or in fall will typically give the plants enough time to generate a root system capable of seeking out the needed water for those hot summer months. It’s important to make design and planting choices before the real heat sets in.
It’s also important to remember that one size does not fit all when we talk about drought resistance. Plants that are drought resistant in the south may not be the same plants to use in the north. This is due to the difference in climate and rainfall that is considered normal in those areas. For instance, a plant that can survive in the high heat, high humidity, and low rainfall conditions of Texas may not do so well in Virginia, and vice versa. Selecting the right plants for the current conditions is important when creating a sustainable drought-resistant landscape.
Our Favorite Drought-Resistant Plants
Lush green landscaping in the dead heat of summer does not have to be a dream. These are some of our favorite landscaping additions to make sure every landscape looks
Drought Resistant Shrubs
Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina) – not a true bamboo, but a colorful shrub nonetheless. All varieties have striking fall color, white flowers, and bright red berries to add interest through many seasons.
**Note – avoid using Nandina domestica as it has been added to invasive species list
Bluebeard (Caryopteris) – such an underused shrub in the landscape, this beauty boasts bright blue flowers in the middle of summer. It works well in a large mass or as an accent planting
Burkwood Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii) – fragrant flowers in early spring coupled with its attractive fall color make this shrub a great choice for borders and large mass plantings.
Isu Tree (Distylium) – this family of 18 evergreens are compact growers with heat and drought resistance. Great as an alternative to Yews or Junipers.
Drought Resistant Perennials
Russian Sage (Perovskia) – this hardy shrub has fragrant silver foliage and whispy lavender flowers. It’s deer resistant and is a great choice for a perennial border.
Cone Flower (Echinacea) – these perennials come in a multitude of colors and are relatively disease and insect free. The colorful daisy-like flowers bring color to the landscape throughout the last spring and summer.
Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia) – similar in appearance to a Coneflower. These guys thrive in poor soils and extreme heat.
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium) – a smaller ornamental grass that can tolerate hot, dry locations. Perfect in mass for hillsides or other easily eroded areas.