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Drought Resistant Plants Survive Summer Heat

Posted July 9, 1999

— Water restrictions, oppressive heat, and a lack of free time are three reasons not to invest time and money in a lawn. Some plants that are not usually thought of as drought resistant hold the answer to lush landscaping.

"Some of our cactus will survive," saysNCSUhorticulturist Bob Lyons. "Our prickly pear cacti, by their nature, are drought tolerant."

There are some plants that naturally do not need much water, such as the Agave parryi huachucenis.

"The Agave parryi is really quite deadly," says Lyons. "You can see the spikes on it."

It is not necessary to have a yard full of spiky cacti and poky perennials. There are many choices that are not as scary looking.

"Geraniums are pretty well known for the drought-hardiness," Lyons said. "A lot of their relatives have as origin drier places in the country."

The brilliant geranium is key to a smart gardener. They do not require much water and they can live indoors during winter. Gardeners can enjoy them throughout the whole year.

Another drought-resistant flower is the vinca.

"These are super performers in the high heat; they love it," Lyons said. "In fact, they have trouble in the spring if it does not warm up fast. These guys will sit there and do nothing. They wait until the temperatures and soils warm up."

Lyons explained that the key to a great garden is not having a low water bill, but, rather, diversifying the kinds of foliage the gardener fancies.

"It is really hard to predict what our weather is going to be," Lyons says. "Drought tolerance is really popular now because we have had a couple years of drought. People are actively looking for plants that are going to survive that weather. We will go through some years where we have a lot of moisture as well, so it is really nice to diversify your landscapes."

For more advice on drought resistant plants, one can visit theJ.C. Raulston Arboretum at NC State Universityon Beryl Road in Raleigh. Beryl runs parallel to Hillsborough Street, on its south side.


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