British Columbia

Gardening: 7 drought-resistant plants you can grow

These plants are built to handle extreme heat and lack of water.

Brent Hine of UBC Botanical Gardens says these plants are built to handle heat, lack of water

With high temperatures, drought and water restrictions across the province, gardens are feeling the heat.

Yet at the University of British Columbia's Botanical Garden there's an idyllic patch of greenery that's thriving under the extreme conditions.

The E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden features over 2,000 different kinds of drought-resistant plants from dry, mountainous regions across the world.

Brent Hine, curator of the garden, told North by Northwest host Margaret Gallagher about some of the drought-resistant plants people can grow in their own homes.

7 drought-resistant plants

1. Smokebush (Cotinus)

  • Native to the southeastern U.S.
  • Will last through multiple seasons.

2. Red hot poker (Kniphofia)

  • Native to Africa.
  • Blooms throughout the summer, whether there is an abundance or lack or rain.

3. Hen and chicks (Sempervivum)

  • Are able to live on sunny rocks and stony places because they can store water in their thick leaves.

4. ​Iceplant (Delosperma)

  • Common in southern and eastern Africa.

5. Hummingbird trumpet (Epilobium canum)

  • Native to dry slopes of western North America, especially California.
  • Blooms in mid-summer and lasts through to the first frost in the fall.

6. Origanum 'Nymphenburg' 

  • Origanum family includes herbs oregano and marjoram.
  • Perfectly adapted to Mediterranean-type conditions and mountain conditions with well-drained soil.

7. Santolina

  • From western Mediterranean regions.
  • Needs no water at all in the summer.

Hine said the Mediterranean plants are especially suited for those who want to design a drought-resistant garden.

The red hot poker (Kniphofia) is native to Africa and doesn't need much rainfall to bloom. (Brent Hine)

"Those kinds of plants don't need rich soils, they don't need a lot of attention," said Hine. 

"And they're very adapted to extreme heat, more extreme heat than what we've had, so they're perfect plants for us." 

Hine said that planting anything now would be challenging — but gardeners can prepare for next season by planting anytime after Labour Day until the first frost.

"Who knows what next year will bring. We have to be prepared for anything and I think it's a good time to do a rethink of what plants are really appropriate," he said.

"Don't get too attached to that big, beautiful flower that you've loved in your garden so many years. Change up, come see [the E. H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden], and learn some new things and make some new choices."

To hear the full interview click on the audio labelled: Drought-resistant plants


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