Posts Tagged ‘drought-tolerant’

Plant Profile: Gazania

Gazania-flowers_lr

You’ve got a dry, hot spot that gets full sun all day. What to plant? A perfect choice for a sunny spot like this is the impossibly cheerful gazania. It’s a low-growing, drought-tolerant flowering annual that shines through in those challenging spots.

Many annuals—like the ever forgiving petunia and geranium—can be plunked anywhere and they’ll more or less cope. Shady spots make fewer flowers, but you’ll still have flowers. Not so with gazanias: they are picky and absolutely must have full sun to show their spectacular blooms. If they don’t have sun, they fold up their petals and sulk. (Yes, the petals actually close.) And why wouldn’t they? They’ve got pizzazz and they want to show it off.

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Butterfly Weed: A Must-Have Perennial

Many plants look flashy in their pots in the garden centre, giving us the overwhelming urge to put them in our shopping carts, but some of the best ones do not, and that’s a shame, as some of the most delightful perennials can be easily overlooked. Native butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) is one of these, and it’s a perennial plant from the milkweed family that deserves a spot in every sunny garden. The one in my garden, pictured above, is two feet high, gently mounded, and is full of buds just starting to open. In the next few days it will pop and be absolutely gorgeous, in the most vibrant orange.

It took a mere three years to go from a few spindly leaves when it was first planted to the beauty that it is today. They are a fine example of the sleep, creep, then leap behaviour of many perennials. This means they spend some time creating a good root system, (a year or two). You might not see too much happening above ground for the first couple seasons, then on the third year they come back with a pow!

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Worry-Free Planters: Mixed Succulents

Mixed succulents in a clay planter.

Mixed succulents in a clay planter. Echeveria, (rosette form), and two kinds of crassula among others.

Why do I love succulent planters? Because, not only are they beautiful, but they are tough and worry-free: they’re the ultimate drought-resistant container planting. Succulents can thrive in the tough growing conditions that a clay planter provides, and are the only plants I grow in an unglazed terra cotta planter.

Why is a terra cotta planter so hard on plants? Because they are porous. Beware, because beautiful, decorative clay planters often seduce us at the garden centre or in photographs, but keep in mind that garden picture books may have photos taken in other climates, with different growing conditions. In rainy, old England, for example, or any Maritime climate with tons of rain and mist, you can get away with planting mixed annuals—like petunias, begonias, browallia— in clay, but I would never do it in the Toronto climate. Sunny, hot summer days dry out a clay planter in a couple of hours. All planters dry out from the top, but porous terra cotta dries out from the sides as well. It can spell certain death to most flowering annuals, they don’t stand a chance.

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