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Posts Tagged ‘drought tolerant’

I did it!  I jumped for a “garden” here at Horizon House! Actually, it’s a plot that cannot be gardened in the usual sense.  It has roots from a Japanese Maple that we like a lot.  We don’t want to cut out the roots, as we’d lose the tree!  Drucilla, who had that plot, was moved to a place where she could actually dig.  Now, what to do with that useless plot???

Just cover it with mulch?  Why not place some pots there?

We had just cleaned up the three (3) decks so they could be resurfaced, which meant that all the pots sitting on those decks had to be removed.  There was ample time for folks to claim their pots.  I didn’t really want to buy new pots, when all those unclaimed pots were just sitting in the storage room.  So I picked out a few, and pressed them into service!img_5586

Betty had a pot that she was not going to be able to use.  It had some geraniums in it.  I asked if I could use it in my “new garden”.  She consented.  At first I was going to remove the geraniums, but then decided to keep them.  I would lay that container on it’s side, and put the two other pots around it.

Charlie and August helped me bimg_5590y moving heavy pots, and filling them with wonderful new soil.  I trimmed back the geraniums and am hoping they will reach for the sun and begin to grow in that direction.  They will hopefully provide some color.  I planted drought resistant plants (mostly succulents) in all three pots.  I’m hoping they will require very little care, and after they settle in, should look pretty nice!img_5593

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What requirements does a plant have to have in order to be considered “drought tolerant”?

It’s interesting because sometimes you can tell a drought tolerant plant by just looking at it.  Maybe the leaves are almost nonexistent, as in an evergreen with it’s oh, so narrow leaves (needles).  Some evergreens also have a pine-359845__180waxy substance that helps keep the moisture from being lost.

You’ll notice that there are plants, like silver sage, whose leaves are covered with tiny little hairs.  Those hairs grasp moisture and hold onto it.  sageOr how about plants with very deep root systems?  They dig deep to  find moisture well below the surface of the soil.  Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, those plants with roots very close to the surface to grab all the barest of rain drops.

Generally, plants that are native to dryer climates like the Mediterranean, the American West, central Asia, and southern Africa will do quite well.  A number of our herbs, used in Italian cooking are from that area and hence do well in drought condition gardens.  Think about Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage.

But, there are other things to remember about drought tolerance. 37350208-old-garden-scoop-on-root-and-soil-of-flowers-top-view Even a drought tolerant plant needs to have plenty of water as it is planted and trying to establish itself.  Do not ignore any newly placed plant.  Those little rootlets will dry out very quickly, and stunt, or kill your plant.  Keep any new plant well hydrated until it’s well established.  Also, we have to remember that although the plants are drought TOLERANT, that doesn’t say they are able to live through extended periods of severe drought.  If that happens, even the most drought tolerant of plants will need a little drink.  Here is a site that will help you deal with an extended period of drought.

These plants should have well drained, and organic rich soil.  img_5553This is a wonderful advantage we have here at Horizon House.  We have raised beds, with wonderful, rich soil and good drainage (especially after our new drainage systems have been installed).

One of the most important things you can do to support your plants is to provide as much mulch as possible.  It will keep the ground cool and hold that moisture in.  It will also reduce the number of weeds that will compete for water.  In our garden beds, weeds are not a huge problem, but it is worth thinking about.

Our drip irrigation system is wonderful.  It provides water to the roots, rather than to the air where it dries out too quickly.  It also is activated in the early morning, which is the very best time, as the heat of the day(which might dry it out) has not been reached as yet.

Here’s a connection to my old blog (North Country Maturing Gardener) from New Hampshire that talks about Xeriscaping or the use of drought tolerant landscaping.  It talks about many of the ideas we are dealing with here today.

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Most of us are familiar with the Version 2geranium, which is formally named “Pelargonium”.   These geraniums are considered a hardy perennial, biennial or sometimes an annual, medicinal herb.  The herb is often used for aromatic oil.  (I have a hard time believing that, as I find their odor slightly offensive.)  But, that is not my purpose here today.

Today, I want to talk about the geranium with which most of us are familiar.  It is a very popular potted plant, usually associated with bright red, white or pink flowers.

In northern climes, they are considered to be an annual, although they can easily be overwintered, out of the ground.  Here in Seattle, our climate is temperate enough that they survive quite nicely in the garden. At Horizon House we can see them flowering happily, not just in garden beds, but on our balconies.

Audrey was having a few issues with yellowing leaves on her geraniums.  The plants seemed healthy otherwise, and she just removed the leaves.  That’s exactly what she should do.  Remember however, that this is a very drought tolerant plant.  It likes to be a bit dry, so over-watering can overwhelm it pretty quickly.  If the leaves on your geranium are yellowing, hold off on the water a bit.

Also, it could be that it is needing a little fertilizer.  Remember in your home-owner days when you fed your grass fertilizer high in nitrogen???  (The first number on the fertilizer bag.)  That fertilizer (nitrogen) is what kept the grass GREEN!  So, look for a fertilizer that has more nitrogen than other nutrients.  Maybe 10-5-5 or something like that.  The first number should be the highest.  Do not get too rambunctious with that fertilizer.  Less is probably better!  Here’s a link from Clemson University that tells you more than you’d probably ever want to know about fertilizers.  But you might find it interesting!  And it might just help your geranium!

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I don’t like to put links to commercial sites into my blog, but sometimes they are just GOOD for the purposes I’m trying to impart.  Today is one of those times.  This is a link to P. Allen Smith’s site.  pwTuscanSunI’m sure many of you are familiar with P. Allen Smith…anyway, I suggest you click on this link and find some lovely pictures of great suggestions for “Drought Tolerant Perennials“.

Here is another link from Clemson University with more lists of drought tolerant plant material than you’d ever want…it’s very INCLUSIVE!

Here’s one from Oregon State University Extension, that should speak to our specific area!

With all of these suggestions, I’m sure you can find SOMETHING you’d like!

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I am going to keep pressing on this.  The drought will persist, it appears.  Today, we are getting a few sprinkles here in Seattle, but I’m sure it will NOT be a deluge at any time soon!  So, here’s a site to visit.  It’s at the University of Vermont Extension Service, which has a wonderful reputation for helping gardeners with their perennials, etc.  Dr. Perry, who put this page together, is fabulous.  When I lived in New Hampshire, he was kind of my “Gardening Guru”.  Incredibly knowledgeable!

Even though this is intended for New England, these plants all grow quite well here, and the list is a good one!-1

One of the perennials listed is rudbeckia.   Here is a description of this bright, cheery, pollinator attractant and drought resistant plant.

I know many of you are concerned about our pollinators, as well as the drought.  This hardy plant answers on both counts!

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We have struggled with water needs over the last few months in our HH garden beds and levels; we have been seeing the Environmental Group’s concerns “Living Dangerously” documentaries; we have been “enjoying” red sunsets caused by smoke from fires in Canada, mostly exacerbated by drought; and we have read articles about climate changing and global warming.  But, what can WE do about that?
Well, we CAN do our little bit.  In our apartments we are trying very hard to separate our trash, turn off lights, conserve water, etc.  But, how about in our gardens?  Are we being water conscious there?
Perhaps the next time you decide to purchase a plant for your garden, you should get one that is DROUGHT TOLERANT.  I have found a wonderful article from Washington State University Extension Service that addresses just that issue.  I will give you the link here.  It is for a PDF.  The flowering shrubs, vines and ground covers start on about page 13, but these are plants that would happily grow in your HH garden, with a lot less need for water. Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 8.22.32 AM Think seriously about the purchase of one of these next time you go to the nursery for plant replenishment!
I received an advertisement from Molbak’s this past week.  They are having a sale on “Hens & Chicks”.  They are lovely little, drought resistant plants that would love a spot in your garden!
This PDF also shares many good tips, mostly targeting large gardens…but many of the techniques can be tailored to our little beds.  Give it a try.  Read it seriously, and see if you can’t make your little piece of paradise a little less dependent on so much water!

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