Dealing with Drought - The Summer of 2012
If you live for the beach, this has been a knockout summer. If you’re a gardener, however, you’ve probably spent a lot of time watering and even more time begging the cloud-free skies for some much-needed rain! While the extended drought has left my newly planted perennials and shrubs gasping for moisture, it’s also been difficult to establish both succession and fall crops in the veggie garden. And, don’t get me started on how often I’ve had to water my container gardens! (Twice a day, thanks for asking)
As luck would have it, this was the year that I decided to turn a narrow, awkward strip of grass between my house and a terraced wall into a new perennial and shrub garden. At this point, that soil has been desert-dry for weeks and I’ve had to resort to giving the bed a deep weekly watering and hope that the new plants survive. Like many gardeners, I’m also trying to be eco-conscious and not waste water unnecessarily. So, I’ve come up with a little list of watering rules that I have been trying to stick to:
1) Water in the early morning (yes, you can take your coffee out to the garden with you) before the sun rises too high.
2) Avoid watering at mid-day. Period. If you’re setting a sprinkler to water your tomatoes at noon, much of that water will evaporate before it reaches your plants. If you can’t water early in the morning, the second best time to water is in the evening.
3) Water the plants that need it the most. This includes anything that is newly planted or seeded, or vegetables that are just beginning to bear fruit.
4) Avoid watering lightly as that will only encourage roots to grow at the top of the soil, leaving plants susceptible to future droughts. Saturate the soil and then apply a mulch to keep roots cool and moist.
Assuming that hot, dry summers may be the new reality, I’ve decided to add more drought tolerant plants to my gardens. Hardy perennials like sedums, catmint, coneflowers, ornamental grasses and daylilies are all great choices for sunny gardens.
Top Drought Resistant Plants:
- Daylilies - Daylilies are tough garden plants that are drought tolerant, disease and pest resistant and still bloom their heads off for weeks! My top picks include ‘Primal Scream’, ‘Going Bananas’ and ‘Nosferatu’, which has fragrant, shimmery purple flowers.
- Sedum - For a blast of late summer colour - even in a hot, dry season - count on Sedum. Try ‘Maestro’, Garnet Brocade™ or the latest Proven Winners Sedum addition, ‘Pure Joy’, available in 2013. Butterflies and bees will also be drawn to the large, flat-topped flowers of Sedum.
- Lantana- Don’t forget that annuals are great for tough summers. If they end up too stressed by heat and water conditions, they are easily replaced. Lantanas are tough plants that withstand hot and dry conditions. Try Luscious® Lemonade, and Luscious® ‘Tropical Fruit’ for a brilliant color combination, sure to cheer up even the most bedraggled gardener.
© 2012 Proven Winners, LLC.