July 2008
Home Grown Tomatoes

Consider Some Drought-Tolerant Plants for Your Garden

By Kenn Alan

Whenever it gets a little warm outside, I am always reminded of the water shortages we Alabamians have to endure each year. With water departments limiting, or even banning, the use of water outside the home or putting a maximum-use limit on total consumption, I always think about the drought-tolerant plants in my garden.

Here are a few ideas for your garden to make water-headaches less this summer.

For upright flowers that make good cut-flower stock, zinnias are my all-time favorite. I have been growing zinnias since my earliest recollection of gardening when Granny would buy the seeds for our backyard planting beds in Powderly. She would buy both the tall varieties and the pincushion or Thumbelina types. These flowers produce colors ranging from off-white to deep burgundy in all shapes and heights.

Other flowers for your drought-tolerant beds could be: butterfly weed, yarrow, Echinacea, ice plant, purslane, moss rose varieties, phlox, liatris, salvia, gaura, coreopsis, asters and wormwood.

For groundcovers, I have used ajuga, sedums and creeping jenny.

Sedums and other Crassulaceae are my favorite succulents to use. You can’t beat sempervivums and kalanchoes for drought-tolerant containers.

Sempervivums include the old-time favorite of hens and chicks, and common house leeks.

Kalanchoes include the chandelier plant varieties, silver teaspoons, devil’s backbone, velvet leaf, miracle plant, desert cabbage, mother of millions and donkey ears. With names like that you know they are drought-tolerant!


Ornamental grasses are good drought-tolerant plants to use in your landscape, too. Pampas grass is the old standby, but have you tried any of the Cymbopogons like lemon grass or citronella grass? These are great since they have a culinary value and repel mosquitoes!

Another couple of good grasses to consider this summer are Texas muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum).

Your garden need not look nekkid-for-color this summer! Grow some drought-tolerant plants!

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For more on these and other gardening tips log on to Home Grown Tomatoes at http://HGTradio.net or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..