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Identifying Drought-tolerant Plants

by Diane Quinn

You don’t have to live in the desert to see the wisdom in adding drought-tolerant plantsIdentifying Drought-tolerant Plants to your garden.

Every area of the country experiences drought conditions at one time or another.

Drought-tolerant flowers

You’ll be surprised at how many colorful perennial flowers can endure high temperatures and limited water. The three listed below are especially easy to grow.

  • Blanket Flower — A tough prairie perennial that comes in vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, it blooms all summer and into fall.
  • Yarrow — This stately perennial is most commonly seen in yellow, but is also available in shades of pink, red, orange and white. It thrives in full sun and is a great choice for difficult-to-grow spots.
  • Pine Leaf Penstemon — You can count on this semi-evergreen to burst into bloom with masses of scarlet-red flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Pick a sunny spot where the long, 18-inch spears have room to grow.

Drought-tolerant plants and shrubs

Every garden needs plants for purposes other than their pretty flowers such as shrubs that offer privacy and greenery all year round. In addition to the ones suggested below, there are many other varieties that are also heat-tolerant.

  • Berberris — This shrub turns a blazing shade of scarlet in the fall and has purple leaves through spring and summer. It grows to a height of 24 inches and is deer-proof as well as drought-proof.
  • Cotoneaster Horizontalis — Shrubs can also be ground cover like this fast-spreading plant with shiny green foliage that’s not only pretty, but also is perfect for difficult slope areas. It thrives in dry, exposed areas and tolerates wind, heat and air pollution.
  • Privet — This tough-as-nails, fast-growing shrub can reach a height of 6 to 12 feet tall.  It makes a dense, attractive hedge in any area that experiences hot and dry conditions.

Green privet hedge texture

Drought-tolerant trees

All trees require regular water when they are first planted whether by using a hose or through rainfall. However, after trees are established, the three listed below will continue to thrive in heat without dying of thirst.

  • Desert Willow — Considered one of the best flowering trees in the desert, in the spring and summer this small tree is covered with pink-white orchid type flowers.  Enjoy watching your hummingbirds feast on this stunning buffet and neglect your feeders.
  • Palo Verde — This graceful, hardy tree can be seen everywhere throughout the southwest for good reason. Bright yellow flowers announce spring and its “always green” trunk stays that way even in winter.
  • Mediterranean Fan Palm — The fan palm can survive in almost any drought condition, grows to a height of 10 feet and makes a dramatic addition with other drought-tolerant plants.  If you want to add tropical flavor to your yard without a high water bill, choose a fan palm.

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