Articles in Category: Drought tolerant

Five Steps to a Beautiful, Drought Tolerant Garden

on Monday, 03 May 2021. Posted in Drought tolerant

Drought proof

It’s no secret that we’re in for another low-water summer here in the Rogue Valley. And while none of us are happy at the prospect of a drought, there are a lot of things you can do right now to have a yard that is both beautiful and drought resistant this summer.

Here are five simple steps to get you started: 

 

 

Plant Now: Drought doesn’t mean you can’t add new plants to your garden this year – but you do want to plant before the summer heat moves in to stay. Plan on doing most of your major planting this month, so your new plants have time to get their roots established before our prolonged hot weather arrives.

In fact, this is a great time to consider adding some drought tolerant and native plants to your garden. These plants are beautifully adapted to our hot, dry summers and are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. Instead of growing ‘thirstier’ plants that you’ll need to continuously coddle and fuss over, you can have a garden full of plants that thrive here in the Rogue Valley – many of which are also deer resistant and pollinator friendly.

 

Water Wisely: Your plants will actually be a lot healthier if you water slowly, deeply, and infrequently; rather than sprinkling them once (or even twice) a day – and you’ll end up using a lot less water overall. Check out our Watering 101 blog post for more information. If you start implementing these waterwise guidelines now, by your new plants will only need occasional water – anywhere from twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the plants you select.

 

Mulch: Once you get that water into your soil, you want to keep it there for your plants to use – not lose it to evaporation! Mulches like hemlock or shredded fir bark, compost, and even gravel act like an insulating blanket for your soil; keeping your plant’s roots cooler and reducing water loss due to evaporation.

 

Go Easy on the Fertilizer: Fertilizers are designed to push fast new top growth in plants – that’s why they’re popular! But growing fast isn’t always in the best interest of your plants – particularly during a dry year. Those tender new leaves require a lot of water to keep them healthy until they harden off. This spring, consider skipping the fertilizer and let your plants get themselves established at their own pace. Instead, they can focus on putting on deep roots to successfully weather the high summer temperatures.

 

Try One of our Waterwise Collections: Not sure where to start? Not to worry! Shooting Star Nursery has designed two curated ‘waterwise’ plant collections –a Waterwise Jewel Tones collection and a Waterwise Pastel Tones collection. These collections include plants for a 90-100 sq. foot garden bed, design vignettes that provide year-round interest, plant descriptions, and spacing guidelines. If you’re new to drought tolerant plants, our collections are a great place to start!

Watering 101

on Friday, 29 May 2020. Posted in Drought tolerant, Fruit trees, New Plants

Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley

soaker hoseWith the temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time to give you a little “Watering 101” overview. Watering problems are behind the overwhelming majority of the garden-related concerns we deal with here at Shooting Star. We’d love to help you avoid some of those problems this summer! Let’s start with a few basics:

--- Even if it is 100 degrees out, do not water twice a day - or even every day! Your plants can’t take up that much water; they actually shut down when it gets very hot. In addition, most plants actually need a period to dry out between waterings.

--- Frequent, shallow watering (e.g.: 10 minutes a day, every day) only encourages shallow root systems in perennials, shrubs and trees, which makes your plants even less drought tolerant!

--- Ideally your yard should have multiple irrigation zones, to accommodate different plant needs.
      • Trees should be on their own watering schedule, separate from shrubs, perennials, and lawns
      • Drought tolerant areas should be a different schedule than areas that need more water
      • Lawns should always be on their own separate watering schedule

One of the trickiest things about watering is that everything happens out of sight – under the ground – where you can’t see what’s going on. Here’s a quick little exercise that can help you get a better understanding of what’s going on below the surface. Pick an area and water on your regular schedule. Wait for about an hour after watering (to let your water soak in), and then dig down to see how far down your moisture zone extends. In general, the roots from lawns will penetrate about 6-8” into the soil; most perennials will go 2-3’; shrubs will go anywhere between 3-6’ down; and a tree’s roots are often as big below the ground as your tree is above the ground. In order water effectively, you want your water to penetrate all the way down to where those roots are. What did you learn?

Woman Watering Garden Hose.jpg.653x0 q80 crop smartSo what are our recommended watering strategies for different kinds of plants? For most perennials and shrubs: water deeply every 2-3 days for first 2-4 weeks after planting, then switch to every 3-4 days. After the first year, drought tolerant plants can usually get by with a weekly deep soak of an hour or more during the growing season. Once established, non-drought tolerant plants will generally need an hour-long deep soak twice a week. If weather is cooler, or if you have heavy clay soil, your plants will need water less often. Trees need a good deep soak upon planting, and then on average a deep soak for an hour or two once a week through the first summer. Once they are established, trees will be fine with a long, soak every two weeks. If you are watering trees with drip, consider placing multiple emitters in a ring around the tree.

Finally, retrofitting your irrigation system might sound overwhelming, but it is actually pretty easy. If you are the DIY type, the folks at Grover’s and the Grange do a good job of walking you through the process, answering your questions, and making sure you have the parts you need. If DIY just isn’t your thing, there are a number of irrigation specialists here in the Rogue Valley who can install a system that does what you needed to. Rest assured that the money you spend upgrading your irrigation system will be more than made up for by the money you save when you don’t have to continually replace dead and dying plants!

Want to learn more? Check out our Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley handout here.

 

Thoughts on the 2017 Perennial Plant Symposium

on Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Drought tolerant, New Plants

Inspiration from the PPA Symposium by Erik Petersen

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an amazing conference hosted by the Perennial Plant Association.  Held in Denver, Colorado, the overall theme was plants that perform well in high mountain areas, barren soils and low water settings.  The Rogue Valley fits squarely into this designation. 

IMG 0210 1

While there was certainly a lot of discussion about new plants and plant selections, I found many of the big picture concepts to be really eye opening about the current state of gardening we find ourselves in and heading into.

PPA conferencedelosperma

 

 

Regional Appropriateness

For years there has been a heavy presence of either East Coast plant material or plants that thrive on the East Coast that has been marketed across the entire United States in a one size fits all category.  Botanist, breeders and gardeners alike have started to shift away from this mentality and focus more on either western forms or regionally appropriate selections that will thrive in the Western United States.  As an example, some ornamental grasses originating from overseas or the Eastern U.S. or the mid-west struggle in our arid soils containing low organic matter and a high pH.  New western forms such as Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blonde Ambition Grama Grass) or Sorghastrum nutans ‘Thin Man’ (Thin Man Indian Grass) are excellent examples of grasses that are regionally appropriate since they perform well in our area.

 

Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn 8032077f8a2fbf8f459f39a08c7ee55bAnother issue this area deals with is that we do not get the natural summer and fall rains the east coast does so this factors into what plants will regionally thrive in this area.  Gardeners and designers from around the country are envious that we can grow Arctostaphylos (Manzanitas), Ceanothus (California Lilac) and Rhamnus ‘Eve Case’ (Coffeeberry) here.  These evergreen shrubs won’t miss a beat in our dry summers and early fall and as such we should embrace our region’s environmental uniqueness and plant accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Alliums (Ornamental Onions) while not always native, are another wide-ranging species that perform exceptionally well here.  They can thrive in dry soils that drain well and are devoid of lots of organic matter.  There are literally dozens of forms to choose from but a few highlights from the conference were:  Allium ‘Millenium’ (2018 Perennial Plant of the Year), Allium ‘Christophii’ (Huge ornamental heads with steel-blue flowers) and Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ (A fall blooming selection).  Alliums are incredible pollinator plants that provide both pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. 

Euphorbia with Allium

Having a love affair with the hose when the trends suggest otherwise!

IMG 0297 1One of the top current trends in gardening is gardens that are low water and adaptive to the conditions.  For a resource in that is often scarce and expensive (water) there are plenty of plants that can be solutions to this need.  Many plants that are regionally appropriate for this area do not want constant or copious amounts of water once they are established in the ground since this can be detrimental to the plants or lead to their death.  Plants such as Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Arctostaphylos (Manzanita), Penstemons (Beardtongue) and Eriogonum (Buckwheats) and ornamental grasses in general are all water wise plants that thrive in our region and have many attractive qualities about them.  When summer temperatures and heatwaves consistently reach over 90 degrees plants such as these usually go into a hibernation phase of sorts where they stop growing and ride out the heat until temps return to normal.  As gardeners, our natural inclination is to water more as the temperature increases which is often the exact opposite of what we should do.  A once or twice a week deep watering of plants in the ground will be adequate to meet their needs.  Over watering leads to rotting of the roots or stressing the plants.  Designing gardens with low water needs but that also exhibit desirable ornamental qualities is the current and future trend.  Other amazing perennials that are adaptive, low maintenance and drought tolerant are:  Monardella (Coyote Mint), Zauschneria (California Fuschia), Delospermas (Ice Plants), Hesperaloe (Red Yucca) and Sedums (Spreading Stonecrop)

 

New Concept of value of plants.

panicumThe traditional benefits of plants were promoted and thought of as “items” that brought happiness, beauty and increased property value to our life.  Over time new concepts have risen to the top as to the value that plants bring into our world.  Today’s cutting-edge designers are thinking about how plants can help with improved water and air quality, providing food (both to humans and animals), their functionality and how they benefit wildlife.   Many plants can serve multiple functions and overlap criteria when it comes to designing.  For example, Panicum grasses (Switch Grass) serve multiple uses.  Not only are they extremely drought tolerant (their roots can go down 14’) but they sequester carbon from the air and put it in the ground thus helping with air pollution.  Their foliage is very attractive and their seed heads can be a food source for birds.  This is an example of one plant providing at least four sources of value, not all of them just for humans. 

I came away from the Perennial Plant Conference with a new sense of looking at how plants are being used, valued and incorporated in today’s designs and projects and what our responsibility as gardeners, landscapers, designers and plant propagators is in today’s changing world. 

-Erik Petersen