Articles in Category: Drought Tolerant

Vitex agnus-castus

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste tree

vitex-plant-of-the-week

Our hot summers allow us to enjoy this Mediterranean native that is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  Heat is neccessary for profuse blooms, and profuse it is once it gets going in July and August.  The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and last at least 4 to 5 weeks.  The color can vary from pale lavender to a darker purple and attract bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.  The fragrant leaves are very attractive on their own- they are divided similar to a laceleaf Japanese Maple and are a very pleasant shade of soft blue-green and gray-green underneath.  Chaste tree is late to leaf out in the spring, helping it avoid damage from our late spring frosts; but makes a good small shade tree in the heat of summer.  One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree or a large, broad shrub.   We have seen older specimens around the valley that are 10' tall by about 12-15' wide, meaning they are cold hardy once established and can get quite large.  However, they can be maintained at 6' tall and wide or trained up as a small shade tree. They take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed.  We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.  Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil but will tolerate both conditions well.   We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses.  Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and have lovely blooms late in the season.  

Phlomis fruticosa

on Thursday, 01 June 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Jerusalem Sage

phlomis fruticosa

Jerusalem Sage is a very striking and unusual plant to add to your drought tolerant or deer resistant garden. The fuzzy gray-green leaves seem unpalatable to deer and being a Meditteranean native makes it a great choice for our dry summers. It acts as more of a shrub than perennial, staying evergreen in all but the coldest winters. Ours died back to the ground this past winter, when it got to 7 degrees but came back full and lush this summer. It can grow to 4' tall and wide but can be pruned in fall to keep it more compact.

Baptisia australis

on Sunday, 30 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Blue False Indigo

baptisia-australis--plant-o

Baptisia or Blue False Indigo may not be all that familiar but it should be for it's striking purple flower stalks and refreshing blue-green foliage.  It has what we always look for- drought tolerant (has deep roots), deer resistant in some areas (poisonous), good cut flowers (blooms in May- June), long lived (so can require some age to bloom and is slower growing), North American prairie native (can tolerate clay or sandy soils), and butterfly attractor.  The easy to care for Baptisia can get 3-4' tall and 2'-3' wide and is rather vase shaped, so low growing perennials at it's base might be nice. Looks great with chartreuse Euphorbias, round headed Alliums, or silver Artemesia nearby. The sweet pea-like flowers make a great contrast with grasses as well. 'Solar Flare' is a newer yellow variety.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Sunday, 16 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

King Edward Red Flowering Currant

ribes-sanguineum

Flowering currants are at their best in late April with their cascades of flowers and scalloped leaves, but late fall and early spring is the best time to plant natives to get them established before the summer heat. 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the species but both attract hummingbirds, and then songbirds with the dark blue berries that follow the flowers. They are a great native that can take dry shade under an oak or other large tree.  Morning sun or dappled shade is best and don't overdo the summer water, they are used to summer drought and winter wet.  Flowering currants grow quickly and have a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants.  They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide.  We also have the yellow blooming species- Ribes aureum, whose flowers seem even more scented and has vibrant red/orange fall color.  Flowering currants are great as part of a mixed screen or hedge in dappled light.

Agave neomexicana

on Friday, 13 January 2017. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

Hardy Agave

agave neomexicana in snow

Hardy Agaves capture us like no other plant.  Their almost mathematical geometry is mesmerizing and they are tough as nails.  One of the true survivors on our property- managing the dips in temp to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013 and the foot of snow in 2017 with not a speck of damage.  The two main hardy Agaves that we enjoy growing are Agave parryi which is a bit more pinecone shaped and Agave neomexicana which is a bit more open.  They both are blue in tone and have decorative, but nasty thorns.  They require sharp drainage and seem to do best planted in a mound.  We amend the soil with 1/4" gravel or larger decomposed granite and use it for a mulch as well to keep soil away from the crown of the plant.  Agaves do best in full sun and can look striking in a container.  They require little water once established, their fleshy roots are good at growing deeply into the soil.  One sharp poke to the nose and deer will know to leave these desert plants alone.  These two species are hardy to at least zone 7, if not zone 6.  Once they get into the 2' wide range there is the possibility of them making a flower spike and then dying, but they have usually made pups by then which will carry on the Agave torch.  You'll want to make room for these gems in your drought tolerant garden.