In the last few days I murdered an innocent cilantro plant. Boo to me! I forgot to water it and even though I rushed with copious amounts of water when I realized my neglect, it was too late. It did remind me, though, of the wisdom of choosing drought flowers and herbs for drought resistant gardening. This is super for areas that haven’t gotten much rain in recent years, or for neglectful ‘gardeners’ like me. So here’s an article from a friend who lives in a really dry area.
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Living in Colorado and being a gardener has been rather stressful in the past few years, as the state has been undergoing a rather severe drought. The city is imposing watering restrictions which are not giving enough water to lawns and plants. I’ve had to renovate my garden to make it more water efficient – in other words, turn it into a drought garden. Now, because of the techniques I’ve employed, I’m the only one in my neighborhood with a garden that isn’t completely brown. So if you live in an area that is going through a drough, or if you just want to save water, I suggest you use some of these techniques as well.
First, I took out all my plants. The soil I was using didn’t retain water very well, so I had to water about twice as much as necessary in order to get it to actually absorb into the roots. If you have this same problem, you can fix it by loading the soil up with lots of compost. This not only prevents water from escaping, but encourages the plant’s roots to be healthy and promotes long term survival.
Once I was done optimizing the soil for my new low water consumption plan, I was ready to replace all my plants and include lots of drought plants. I decided that the placement of all my plants would reflect the amount of water necessary to keep them alive. All the plants that don’t require much water I placed on one side of my garden, and then just progressed in the amount of required water to the other side of the garden. As a result of my new arrangement, I don’t have to waste water on plants that don’t need it as much.
The installation of a drip irrigation system was another move on my part that reduced the amount of water I needed to fully water my garden. The great thing about these systems is that they constantly drip into your plants, so that every single drop is absorbed. With traditional watering systems, usually the roots get too overwhelmed with the sheer amount of water in the soil. Thus, lots just seeps right past. This is all taken care of with the drip system.
If you still seem to need more water than you can supply to your garden, you might consider which plants you could replace with low water plants.
If you want a good shrub that doesn’t use up more than its share of water, look for Heavenly Bamboo. It is not only tolerant of droughts, but looks rather decorative in any garden.
Herbs such as Rosemary are useful in preparing meals, and are rarely thirsty.
If you’re trying to find flowers that stay lush and beautiful despite the lower amounts of water, look for varieties like Garnet, Apple Blossom, Moonbeam, and Midnight. You can attract hummingbirds and butterflies with varieties like Cosmos and Yarrow. The best part about all these plants is that they don’t look rugged and hardy, but they sure are. Your neighbors won’t be saying "Look at them, they downgraded their plants just to withstand the drought. What chumps!" Instead they will be marveling over how you keep your flowers so beautiful in the midst of the watering regulations.
Pineapple sage is another personal favorite. It is a 2+ foot shrub that smells strangely of pineapple. It’s another major attracter of hummingbirds, and the leaves are also useful to add taste to drinks.
One of my favorite drought resistant plants is the Lavender plant. I could go on for pages about it. A large group of Lavender plants looks unbelievably gorgeous in your garden, and hardly requires any water to flourish so it’s perfect for the drought resistant garden.
So if you are in the position I was, and you’re dealing with a drought and watering regulations, I suggest you try some of the things I’ve mentioned. Even if you’re just trying to conserve water or be generally more efficient with it, I think you’ll still benefit.