When in Drought…

Rainfall in the upper Midwest over the last couple of weeks has helped bring some relief to parched corn and soybean crops, but more rain is needed to prevent further damage.

The news isn’t as good for drought-stricken crops in the lower Midwest where the chance of rain is bleak. The intense—sometimes triple-digit—heat is compounding problems by frying already stressed plants to the point of no return.

At this point in the growing season, I’m sure you’ve already cut back on the water you’re using to keep your flowers beautiful. The good news is that—with a little planning this year—you can find plenty of gorgeous perennials that need very little moisture for next year. Here are some characteristics that indicate a definite lack of thirst:

  • Deep roots that resent being transplanted—peonies, for instance
  • Fleshy, thickened roots that hold moisture—like daylilies
  • Silver or gray leaves with waxy or hairy coverings—such as lavenders and dusty miller
  • Thin or narrow leaves—for example, yuccas and many ornamental grasses
  • Fleshy leaves and stems—such as sedums and hardy cacti

Just keep in mind that even the most drought-tolerant plants need a steady supply of water while their root systems are forming. The amount varies, but in most cases, it’s about an inch of water a week either from your hose or from Mother Nature’s rain clouds.