This is a weird day to be writing about conserving water in our gardens. We have had a near record rainfall on 6/14 of nearly 12” in some areas of our city. Only days ago I was having to water my pots every day and added a few minutes to each zone on my automatic sprinkler system.
A few months ago I read a great article in magazine about a gardener and author named Pamela Crawford. She lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, and a couple of years ago there was a record drought and mandatory no-excuses ban on outside watering. I remember hearing about this and I wondered how people with gardens dealt with this issue…I can’t really imagine how I would manage my gardens or the many gardens that I oversee if we couldn’t water…..eeeh!!!
Her solution is interesting, and thanks to hundreds of great growers out there many new varieties of drought tolerant plants are making their appearance into your local garden center. While they are some of the strongest plants out there – they don’t look it – you aren’t sacrificing anything except the daily water routine…
One of the best drought tolerant annuals is ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia. I first became acquainted at how amazing this plant is a few years ago. One of my clients would plant a single 8” basket in huge pots…and by mid-summer these begonias were enormous and showy….little did I know they loved the heat and weren’t that thirsty. I couldn’t believe how huge they were – and all she did was water them twice a week. They pack a lot of punch in tough but delicate looking package.
Angelonia is also a fabulous annual – it’s been available in the garden centers for a few years now – but has now been discovered by every gardener – it is both beautiful, and heat and drought tolerant. This is my favorite annual flower. I like it for several reasons….it comes in my 3 favorite flower colors….pink, white and purple. It looks like a garden flower – almost a cross between larkspur, snapdragon and stock. It looks good wherever I put it – and it doesn’t need to be dead headed.
I am lucky to have a wonderful grower locally – we brainstorm every year about what she will grow for all of the gardens I oversee. We are constantly tweaking the varieties and this last year I asked her to grow a hybrid Purslane ‘Samba Rose’ – the flowers are 3” in diameter and fluorescent pink – they love the heat and don’t need much water. At a recent garden tour this plant received rave reviews, and lots of people asked what it was because the flower was so showy.
Here is “Samba Rose” Purslane – love to use in a pot that has no drainage....like the one on the left…look at the size and “fluorescence” of this rose color!!!
Lantanas are continually being hybridized and are looking more like a trailing flower and less like your grandmother’s weedy variety. The new lavender and yellow varieties are a wonderful addition to any container in a sunny spot.
Penta, Periwinkle, Scaevola, Dusty Miller, Blue Daze and new varieties of Zinnia and Melampodium will also thrive in your summer garden. Remember even though these plants will hold their own during the hot summer months of July and August, they will need to be watered more often if they are in containers. When planting, please use some of the new potting mixes available that retain water – they will make a big difference. If you have read my previous blog on my rule $5 plant in a $10 hole…it’s double if it is a container….please never, never, never put “potting soil” in your containers….you are going for the very best and light “potting mix” you can find.
Here’s a small raised planter filled with plants that take on the hottest temperatures July and August can bring, and require less water than all other annuals…..looks pretty lush to me….penta, angelonia, dusty miller, blue daze and my favorite variety of Purslane.
Water wise ol’ fellow gardeners!
Happy Gardening -
All My Best -