Drought Tolerant Plants & Flowers: Defy the Dry
Plant the right flowers for beautiful colors in dry conditions
1. Know Your Soil
Your soil can be your friend or foe when it comes to dealing with dry conditions. Good soil provides the right balance of water, nutrients and air to plant roots and is the foundation of successful gardening. Soils in different regions have different mixtures of sand, silt and clay and support a different group of plants. So amend your soil with a nutrient-rich soil like Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil, to make it easier for roots to grow deep. Deep root systems are better at finding both water and nutrients, which is crucial during dry times.
2. Plant Ornamental Grasses
Many ornamental grasses are ideal for dry gardens; most are adapted to growing in tough environments. They make great accents in the garden and even better, they can provide food for birds. Try switchgrass, which makes a thick stand that reaches 5 feet tall and displays tiny purple flowers on the stems. Little bluestem grows about 4 feet tall and turns gold in the fall. Prairie dropseed forms a round shape and loves the sunniest part of your garden.
3. Plant Flowers that Thrive in Dry Spells
Some flowers have also adapted to wide extremes in temperature and moisture. Use drought-tolerant flowers that will be at home in your specific area. A few popular choices are purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susan and sedum. Also include native plants in your garden. They can handle your local growing conditions best. Check with your local garden center for more information about flowers and plants native to your region.
4. Perfect Your Watering Skills
When watering your flowers, try to avoid sprinklers, as they tend to encourage water waste through evaporation. Instead, water by hand or use more accurate drip irrigation or a soaker hose. Water early in the morning or early evening to cut down on water loss by evaporation throughout the day.
5. Stretch Your Water Resources
As much as these plants can withstand considerable droughts, that doesn't mean they can go without water altogether. Mulching your garden with a 3-inch layer of high-quality mulch, like Scotts® Nature Scapes® Color Enhanced Mulch, will help retain soil moisture and prevent weeds by blocking growth and access to sunlight, too. Install rain barrels to recycle your rainwater for use in your garden later (see our article on "Harvesting Rainwater" and learn how to make your own rain barrel). Or, use a moisture meter to determine when your garden needs a drink. For more information, read our article "Protect Your Garden from Drought."