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Growing Things: Dry beauty found in zeroscaping

Do your homework to make sure the plants you’re choosing are really suited to hot, dry locations. Choosing plants just because they succumb to heat is a waste of time and energy.

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Q. I’m a relatively new gardener and live in a walk-up condo so I keep all my plants in containers. Many of my plants suffer from the heat even when I water them twice a day. And would you recommend plants that are more tolerant to conditions? I’m looking for houseplants, not vegetables.

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a Interest in xeriscapes has increased since we experienced a hot, dry summer. Xeriscape is a genre of gardening that utilizes plants that are suitable for these conditions and requires little additional watering. Provides a means of gardening that prioritizes water conservation.

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Here are some tips for xeriscaping beginners.

  • Do your homework to make sure the plants you’re choosing are really suited to hot, dry locations. Choosing plants just because they succumb to heat is a waste of time and energy.
  • Use a high quality, nutritious potting mix. Adding compost or well-rotted manure to the mix is ​​a great idea. A good ratio is 1 part compost to 3 parts potting mix. Rich mixes help retain moisture better.
  • If the plants you want to use need to block direct sunlight, consider adding a trellis or screen for protection.
  • Water efficiently. Consider using a drip irrigation system that minimizes water loss to the atmosphere. Traditional watering methods result in spillage and evaporation. Drip irrigation is very effective at delivering water directly to the root area and helps prevent evaporation and runoff. Water splashing on the leaves in hot sun can act like a magnifying glass and cause burns.
  • Consider mulching all containers. Adding 5 to 7.5 cm of mulch on top of the container soil will help keep it moist. An example of a good mulch is shredded bark or bark chips.

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Below are some examples of plants that do well in a Zeroscape garden.

Ornamental grass: Many grasses are naturally drought tolerant, so grasses are very good for drying out.

  • Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum) – Annual in our climate. It is known for its spikes of long-lasting, fuzzy flowers. Grows from a height of 60-90 cm.
  • Tufted Fescue (Festuca amethystine) – Blue-gray accent plant with tawny flower spikes in late summer. Grows up to 30 cm in height. Unique tufted appearance.
  • Ribbongrass (Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta”) – Older but still good looking. Cream and green variegated pointed leaves. Grows up to 75 cm tall.

annual flower

  • Sunflowers – different varieties of different sizes. Dwarves grow to 30 cm tall, and giants can reach up to 3 meters. Single or multiple flower heads of the cultivar.
  • Purslane – This succulent can withstand even the most severe droughts. Can be used as a ground cover. The plant is short, no more than 20 cm in height. Bright pastel colored flowers of single or double form.
  • Cockscomb or Cockscomb – Feather-like flowers of many colors. Grows to a height of 15-40cm.
  • Morning glory (Ipomea tricolor) – Yes, even vines as gorgeous as the morning glory are drought tolerant and well suited for xeriscapes. The blue variety starts out gentian blue and changes color from blue to pink during the day. Available in blue, red, pink and white.

One of my favorite xeriscape containers that I grew had portulaca with ribbon grass planted underneath. Purslane rolls over the container, adding even more color to it. A water-friendly garden doesn’t have to be boring.

Purslane is a great variety for xeriscapes because it requires very little water and provides beautiful color throughout the growing season.
Purslane is a great variety for xeriscapes because it requires very little water and provides beautiful color throughout the growing season. photo by file /post media

For more information, email your questions to filipskigerald@gmail.com, read past columns at edmontonjournal.com, or read my book Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on Twitter @justtaskjerry01.

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Growing Things: Dry beauty found in zeroscaping

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