Drought loving plants

cactusgardenJune 27, 2011

I was wondering if anyone would be interested in sharing any plants they are growing that are handling this weather well? Plants that are better able than others to withstand drought or do not need supplimental water and even bloom in the midst of it? I don't grow vegetables other than tomatoes but I do have several plants that are blooming and healthy despite the weather.

These in particular seem unflapped by the heat and drought and work very well here in Oklahoma taking all that our summers can give them:

Russian Sage

Thelosperma filifolium (Greenthread) (blooms non stop on low vigorous plant, naturalizes easily)

Desert Marigold (blooms heavy all season, naturalizes easily)

Talinum calycinum (Flameflower) (heavily blooms pink continuously even in the sidewalk cracks, pretty succulent in same family as rosemoss and naturalizes just like it)

Holly shrubs

Native Grasses (check out the improved Little Bluestem cultivars, very blue!)

Sphaeralcea angustifolia lobata (Lobeleaf Coppermallow)

Horsemint (blooms all season)

Artemesia frigida (Fringed Sage)

Artemesia (Wormwood)

Missouri Primrose(blooms all season)


All varieties of butterfly weed

Hesperaloe (blooms all season)

Prairie Clover




Red Barberry (once/month deep soak)

Red Hot Pokers

Texas Sage (Cenzio)

Ipomosos rubra (Standing Cypress) tall tower-like stem of screaming red flowers, biennial naturalizes easily from seed.

I got a lot of these seeds from the Plants of the Southwest catalog.

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Thanks for this list! I can certainly vouch for the holly shrubs and little bluestem. Russian sage is on my list of stuff to plant next year, too.

Does anyone have any experience with the Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi) around here? The description says it's good for xeriscaping, and I think the fuschia-colored flowers and green succulent foliage would be a nice, colorful addition to my brown, dormant summer backyard.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:09PM
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It does good if you can keep winter moisture from getting it. I put in some sand and my property is all on a slope (nearly impossible to water in summer). It gets kind of scraggly if its too dry in summer and some spots just work better than others in my yard. Some just sit there and then die out and others will get big. Its so easy to take a sprig and replant it elsewhere that you can try them in different spots.

It will winter over in a cold garage in dry soil too if you don't have the drainage. I did that just in case the first year but found it was not necessary. I only had good luck with the pink blooming ones, the yellows didn't survive winter for me.

If you like pink flowers and want EASY and I mean very easy succulents try the flameflowers. I will post a picture. I have to get this page off and put one in the photobucket.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:54PM
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If it likes sand then I think it would be perfect for my yard. Drainage is never a problem. Even in 2007 we only had standing water in one part of our yard that lasted at most a day before it was gone. We're also on a bit of a slope, so heavy rain tends to run off rather than just sitting there. They would be kind of a border around the native grasses bed I want to plant along with some other drought-tolerant flowering perennials, which would be within reach of a garden hose if it gets too dry. I think I'll give it a shot!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:08PM
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This is the Desert Marigold. I have these all over my property now. Its a perfect bouquet all spring summer and fall except it will not take too much water. Very easy from seed.

This is the Flameflower in a pot. They come up everywhere too. They bloom all summer and then peter out around the end of August. Easy. They come up in the cracks on my sidewalk and will bloom non stop even if you weed them out of the ground and look no different for a week or longer in a dry bucket, like they don't even realize they've been pulled. They have a kind of bulb like root.

I pulled this off online of the Thelosperma. Another non stop bloomer on a nice perfectly rounded thick plant covered in small yellow blooms spring till frost. I got this at Farmers Market and have them naturalized from just one plant year before last.

Here is my front yard. There are couple ice plants showing, one at the bottom of the photo and one in the middle. They made it fine last winter. You can see, I went drastic on the xeriscape. I got sick of watering and wilted plants 4 years ago.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:15PM
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Question about establishing Russian sage - supposedly it's unkillable but I've managed it twice. I tried to leave them alone water-wise, but they shriveled up and died like they were thirsty. I planted two more late last fall, and they came up in the spring but are still so small, I've begun watering them regularly to try to encourage some growth. No flowers at all, yet, and plants only about 6 inches tall, nothing like what I see in catalogs or photos.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 6:26PM
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I'm not sure why yours died, I thought they were indestructible too. I originally bought three gallon sized plants and planted them in a spot with full afternoon sun and morning shade on the west side of a building and they flopped pretty bad. I dug up one and replanted it, I think in spring, down in the hot dry median and it got much bigger by the second year and it now puts out a lot of runners I am not too crazy about. It is almost 5 feet tall and wide (it would be even wider if I didn't stay after those suckers). They seem to move fairly easily (top might die back but it comes back from the roots) so thats another reason I think of them as indestructible. I saw some planted in another hot, full sun exposure median by the street at a commercial building here in the city but they are that more improved vertical kind. Much nicer and smaller plants. So, I am not sure except maybe its a matter of getting them well established on the roots first and then they take off? I do remember mine didn't get all that big the first couple years + there was that ugly flopping and they didn't seem to mind watering much.

I thought of a couple other examples that take the heat and drought with very little or no extra watering and winter well here in Oklahoma.

Salvia Greggii
Scutellaria drummondii (nice neat small leaved mound, covered with purple flowers easy from seed)
Apache Plume (gorgeous round shrub about 4' to 5' high and wide covered with ornamental pink featherlike seedheads all summer and white flowers simultaneously, needs zero watering and very cold hardy) TLC in Okla. City carries them and so does High Country Gardens.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:05PM
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Update on the Delosperma cooperii. They are starting to look pretty sad in the heat. Seems when it gets very hot in full sun they dry out and die back. I am remembering now they have done this before but they do come back when the weather gets cooler in fall and that is when they get loaded with blooms. Chicks and Hens do the same thing. Mine always look horrible in the middle of summer except the ones in shade. The SW native types of forbs do better.

Some of this imported succulent/desert stuff is from mountain regions in otherwise desert parts of the world and its the cold hardy rating that makes sellers recommend them as hardy desert plants for colder climates. They don't necessarily take the heat well.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 5:10PM
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The spot does get some light shade from about 5pm until dark. It's not much help during the hottest part of the day, but maybe it's better than nothing. Thanks for the update!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 5:19PM
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I have a miniature rose called a Victory Rose. It's tolerating our 115 degree heat, planted on the western exposure of a concrete wall with concrete sidewalks in a spot that has killed everything including sage and oregano. I hardly ever water it and it's blooming!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:26AM
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tracydr, I looked up that rose. I can't believe a tea rose is that tough. It tolerates sub zero too. They don't seem to sell it in many places either. I thought only the landscape types were that hardy.

miraje, The ice plant I have that is planted in good soil (organic matter added) where my flower beds used to be is doing fine. I did some weeding yesterday and there were a couple seedlings coming up under a plant I thinned out. The ones I have planted out in the part of the property with the cactus and tough natives that used to be the lawn (its a lot of sand added to unamended soil) aren't as nice. Thats my "survival of the fittest" area. The tough stuff does good in it and it makes for easy root growth with the sand added.

All that sand I added sure makes watering and weeding easier though. It soaks the soil so much faster. Sand is cheap. We got two dump truck loads. One for the front and another for the back.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 4:03PM
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I bought that little rose from Safeway, of all places. It was a Valentine's gift for my husband.I'm going to try to propagate some cuttings this fall. I can't believe it's so tough, either. We had some hard freezes right after I planted it, too.
I bought my mother a similar miniature with yellow, ruffled petals that look almost like a carnation and it is loaded with flowers right now, despite the heat. She has it in a clay pot on the patio, so I'm sure it's cooking!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I have a little groundcover called sedum blue spruce (I believe) that would look pretty with your plants. It was growing in neglected flower beds of a house my sister bought. It doesn't need as much water as hens and chicks.

I'm in eastern OK, so I might get more rain than you. Right now I've got pink hollyhocks and volunteer purple and white petunias blooming, they don't seem to need much watering at all--I've only watered the petunias in the front yard once this year. I think they're probably more drought tolerant than the greenhouse type since they're volunteers.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 5:02PM
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You got that rose from Safeway! The only place I found it for sale was Henry Fields online. They were really touting its ability to withstand very cold and very hot. There weren't many pictures on Google either.

Julie, I have only a couple of sedums and have no idea what they are. I got them in a trade. One turns orange in winter and grows real slow and the other one is tiny leaved and spreads moderately. Your right, I ought to get some more. I had one once that threatened to take over so I got a bit gun-shy on them after that.

Do you think those petunias that are more hardy are from seeds from the fancy greenhouse bedding types? I planted seeds for some fancy ruffled ones some years ago and had regular pink volunteers the next year that were real tough like the ones you are describing. I love the smell of them.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 7:27PM
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Yeah, just those little potted miniatures they sell for gifts at the grocery stores in the flower departments, lol! Mine looks just like a perfect red rose in miniature. My mother's has an unusual, ruffly, bigger bloom, more like a carnation, but still has the tiny leaves and very dwarf stature.
I've noticed a lot of roses around AZ and my brother has all sorts of them, which I know he doesn't water much at all. I never knew how tough they were until I lived here.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 12:45AM
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