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Planting suggestions for low growing plant in dry conditions

dbarron
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

Ok, I have this strip planting (perhaps 1.5 foot wide) along front of the house. It's a hell spot by nature, due to facing south, with wall behind it, and I believe it *may* be only a shallow filled pocket of soil vs free and open to the rest of the soil in yard. There's a sidewalk bordering it.

It was originally cannas (when I bought the house), which were totally out of place leafing out over the sidewalk. It took two years to rogue the cannas out on the house facing half, the cannas still have their way on the other half of it, but that's out of the "traffic" area.

I planted it with (and this is in order starting with farthest away from front porch),

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (turk's cap mallow), Clinopodium georgianum (Georgia savory),Tephrosia virginiana (Goat's Rue), and various Arilbred Irises (which appreciate heat and drought), I have a STENARIA NIGRICANS (prairie bluets) tucked in, hoping it seeds across the bed. There's a few spare plants here and there, like echinocereus baileyii (cactus) and Phemeranthus calycinum (fame flower). I have a few bulbs tucked in here and there too...to give early spring interest.

There's a a big open spot, which had a penstemon (but which gave up the ghost during a long summer rainy period), so the question is...can you suggest a relatively low (no more than 1.5 foot) plant to take up that spot. Must be able to take heat and drought, and not try to ambitiously conquer the bed. Pluses would be either good color or attractive foliage for long season interest. Obviously I prefer natives, but the arilbreds are certainly not native :) I have no preference as to season of flowering (if it does flower)

So...I want a plant that flowers all season long (all year would be better), with attractive evergreen foliage, handles heat, drought, and occassional heavy prolonged rainfall. But you know, I'll settle for the plant that looks good at some time and can handle the last three (climatic/positioning). Amaze me.

Comments (41)

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    5 years ago

    Would sunrose, Helianthemum nummularia, work for you? Very sun and drought tolerant but not sure how it might respond to summer humidity. Low growing, evergreen and with a wide range of flower colors available. I am particularly fond of 'Cheviot' with peach colored flowers against a silvery green foliage and 'Henfield Brilliant', an intense red orange.

    dbarron thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    It craps out in the SE heat and humidity (rockrose)...but that would be a LOVELY choice, I've tried to grow them before...they bloom beautifully.

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  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    5 years ago

    the title itself brought to mind a sedum collection .. IF they would grow in NC ... [i would be curious to know if they dont] .... though flowers might be seasonal.. the plants themselves can be colorful .. and also.. once established.. basically carefree ...


    a pic of the spot might really help ...


    ken

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=sedum+collection&t=ffcm&iax=1&ia=images

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I kinda doubt it Ken, but I'll try and take/post a quick shot. Btw, I tried sedum sieboldii and it just withered away. Most sedums don't like heat and humidity either.

    The blue area is the recently dead penstemon and where I could put the proposed plant(s). Don't mind the ubiquitous bermuda...it's horrid here.

  • rouge21_gw (CDN Z6a)
    5 years ago

    dbarron, I have no experience with this plant and mention it only because fellow GW member twros recently raved about it...."Golden Oregano" (Origanum vulgare 'Aureum')

    • full sun
    • low growing i.e. around a foot
    • good to zone 9 and evergreen in the warmer zones
    • excellent golden foliage with small flowers

    Just a thought.

    dbarron thanked rouge21_gw (CDN Z6a)
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    It appears that it does not like full sun in my zone...info from mobot which is a zone above mine. So with reflected wall heat it would probably crisp I tried cunilla oreganoides (dittany) there and it went crispy, despite the fact that it grows naturally on shallow rocky dry soil. I have a feeling everything with a thin leaf would find this too much of an oven. The plants I've had work here have fleshy or at least thick leaves. Darn, if I were warmer, this would be a GREAT place to have aloes outdoors.

    And being really picky, I'm afraid it's spreading habit would't be welcome (said to spread rapidly) if it did thrive.

  • rouge21_gw (CDN Z6a)
    5 years ago

    It is hardy from z4 to z9.

    dbarron thanked rouge21_gw (CDN Z6a)
  • Campanula UK Z8
    5 years ago

    cistus species, rather than helianthemum...even halmiocistus.

    salvia greggii - there are some really compact varieties)

    haworthia

    talimum

    callirhoe

    sphaeralcea sp

    any of the muhly grasses?

    Floundering a little though as your climate is not remotely familiar to me.

    dbarron thanked Campanula UK Z8
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Cistus is said to be zone 8 hardy, I've never had the few I've planted overwinter. I am not familiar with halmiocistus, but with it's description as a mediterranean plant, I fear the spring rainfall would overwhelm it.

    I have salvia greggii, and I think it doesn't quite appreciate the climate, the rainfall is a bit too heavy in the early spring and a bit light in the late summer. It's never been that great a doer for me, I keep hoping I'll find the perfect spot and it'll wow me...but it hasn't yet :)

    I have talinum (fameflower) though the name is different now (Phemeranthus listed above). And it's a nice surprise when the much taller wands are blooming. If it's happy, I expect much more of it next year (it reseeds well).

    I grow both callirhoe bushii and involucrata and they could do well there. They do fine for me in other places in the yard. The only bad thing is mid to late summer and fall, they have no presence.

    I have grown sphaeralcea munroana in the past, and really liked it. Maybe I should look for some seeds and start some...it would do well there I think.

    I planted four muhly's this summer...and waiting to see how they do, but it might be a bit wide for the area (at maturity). It's something to wait and see how their fall display is this year before I put any more in.

    Some very good suggestions though Camps, and I'll keep them in mind...I really do like trying to add a sphaeralcea...maybe coccinea...always wanted to grow it.

    It's ironic that the best suggestions (so far) are coming from a climate so different than mine (lol). I thought about posting on the Texas forum, but figured most of the suggestions would be non-hardy here, though several of Camp's would have been suggestions from there too I think.

  • Campanula UK Z8
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    sand verbenas - abronia?

    mountain pink- centaurium heyrichii

    Texas is a big place.Dunno what happened to wantonamara but she sent me some great texan seeds...and a surprising number of things do rather well in my dry part of the UK...so wracking my brains. Obviously, I was most in love with ipomopsis, but probably not applicable to your situation. I also grew Texan flax - linum rigida, conoclinum, a couple of other salvias, (and am trialing s.stolonifera from Robin Middleton, this year, which might be good for you). Various penstemon (but too tall for you, I think.

    Also, I am really happy to grow annuals - craved pavonia and palafoxia but no dice...but mentzelia and nemophilas are always winners.

    Got a few daisy ones - calyophus and berlandieri (which I grew for fun. Four nerve daisy (don't think I got around to sowing that one)..but certainly cowpen daisy which I grew with succisa pratensis ...a blue scabious-alike.

    Anyway, I had a bit of a thing for Texan plants (still do) and surprisingly, Mara's gysum/caliche type ground is not that far removed from my highly calcareous shelly sand...so yeah, check out the Texan forum.

    dbarron thanked Campanula UK Z8
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I love your suggestions, but my soil stays too waterlogged parts of the year for these. It's difficult because of how hot and dry it is when it's hot and dry (lol), and how wet it is when it's raining (which last few years has been rather abundant in the worst part of the year (late winter-spring, and even into mid summer).

    Sometimes I think I should just pour concrete in there and forget it (lol)...but seriously some plants like it...it's just hard to find the right ones that do.

  • andreap
    5 years ago

    I have a similar hell strip situation facing west in full sun in summer. Here is what grows well there without watering in the heat and humidity of summer:

    Sedum sarmentosum (Gold Moss); sedum reflexum (blue spruce); creeping jenny; lemon thyme; phlox sublata (moss phlox). These don't seem to mind getting soaked during wet seasons. They just spread out more, like living mulch.

    For taller plants, angelonia and autumn joy sedum are the easiest I grow.

    dbarron thanked andreap
  • WoodsTea 6a MO
    5 years ago

    Purslane? Prostrate spurge? Dandelion? These all do really well for me here.

    We have a similar climate problem, especially the last two years which have been rainier than usual. Out on the south end of the hell strip it gets really hot and sunny, but the soil is fairly rich clay loam and the whole area is often inundated when we get big rains. I have prairie pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) out there, which has done reasonably well this year, but it isn't terribly deep-rooted and suffers visibly in long dry spells. I love it though when it's in good shape. Not much in terms of flowers, but that silvery soft green is wonderful.

    Fame flower does okay, but flops quite a bit. I'm sure it would like a leaner, more well-drained soil.

    One thing that has done really well out there is Missouri evening primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa. It requires more maintenance than I usually like to give things if you want it to look really neat. When we head out with the dog for an evening walk and those pale blooms, streetlit, pop out from the dark mass of greenery in the strip, I feel like it's worth the hassle.


    dbarron thanked WoodsTea 6a MO
  • WoodsTea 6a MO
    5 years ago

    Catmint also comes to mind. I'm not super crazy about it since I see it around the neighborhood so much, but it thrives between the south side of my house and the driveway, with a couple of stretches of bloom if it's trimmed back. It fills a section of that strip that I may use for a raised vegetable garden at some point, and the maintenance is minimal.

    Aromatic aster (S. oblongifolium) could also work though it just has the one late bloom season. It's quite competitive, seems good for an area that's bounded by walks/drive/house where you need it to duke it out with weeds. Can be a bit floppy after big rains.

    dbarron thanked WoodsTea 6a MO
  • Campanula UK Z8
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Species roses. I kid you not. Some of the really prostrate types (Nozomi, Suma, Grouse). Rosa primula or hugonis. Any of the hulthemias. the sacramento rose, rosa stellata mirifica would not, I think, cope with the wet) but oh, there are some which love it - r.arkansas, r.virginiana, r.palustris.

    The fabulously ground creeping r.bracteata. Some of the noisettes can also be kept low, low to the ground...but obviously, take up space.

    Um, I know I am not just off base here, but outside the ground altogether...but species roses were my first and most enduring horticultural love and so many of them thrive in heat and heavy claggy soil. Any excuse to bring them up.

    Is gaillardia a doer for you Erigerons? Artemisias? Dandelion is not such a ludicrous suggestion (I have certainly been collecting hawkweed seeds(!) so when in doubt, try a daisy or hardy geranium). Maybe you really need to go down the easy annual road (my choice, always)...the choice is limitless and you can have different themes every year. Seedhunt is a seed site I have wasted many hours salivating over.

    dbarron thanked Campanula UK Z8
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Gaillardia can't cope with the wet, you may laugh, but I have NEVER been able to do artemesia, as much as I like several of them, and have tried many times. Yep, it could be that the site is doomed to a late planting of the dwarf zinnias or something. Roses would be one thing I purposefully exterminated from that area, there was a hybrid tea climber...but it doesn't belong where thorns scratch walkers on the walk.

    Oh, never had much luck with missouri primrose either...killed one just this spring :(

    It's sad, I can't grow some of the things that other people consider thugs (lol).

  • Campanula UK Z8
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    No no - not hybrid tea anythings - these are fluffy divas and NOTHING like the graceful species roses. Go on - swoon at rosa primula or any of the spinossissimas (aka pimpinellifolias).

    I think you can do much, much better than dwarf zinnias...although I am fond of z.peruviana or even z.hageana

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Yeah, I meant hageana most likely. And roses are all full of at least spines, at worst thorns and have no business being in walkways.

    I have tried to get rosa stellata mirifica to grow...but been foiled both times (in Oklahoma) probably by the wet. Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' also dies for me.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    How about some obedient flowers, or Phystostegia virginians, maximilian sunflower or another wet loving sunflower,.I think that Liatris pycnostachya will take some water . I see pictures of it growing in ditches. LBJ says it does moist soils and dry. .Bushy bluestem, Andropon glomeratus does ditches around here. Some of those other bug bluestem? There is one that is very vertical, I forget its name ,(pause while I google).... Andropon virginicus, I think. Broomsedge. How about some water loving sedges? I bet some Carex might take a bit of water and love you for it.

    OT @ Campanula: small palafoxia (Palafoxia callosa) is blooming up a storm right now. Airy clouds of pink. Do you want me to grab seeds as they are a great end of summer annual for us. I sent seeds up to TxR and she loves 'em . They might need heat to germinate since they seem to come up after spring has past. That and Pasture Heliotrope( Heliotropium tenellum) are my late summer gifts that come out the other end of brutal heat and signal fall is on its way.. I would like to get my hands on some P. hookeriana. That might mean a trip to LBJ wildflower center.

    I am lurking but I have been REALLY busy and trying to get my fall vegetable garden in. A girl has to eat.

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    The physostegia would fry. Others are far too big.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Even the Carex? I grow obedience in the sun down here. Ditch lilly?

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Oh, you submitted more.. I'll read and edit my post in a bit. The others you suggested aren't are either too big or not drought tolerant enough... It's brutal there, plus I really want flowers vs grasses (yes I know TR would beat me).

    Physostegia virginiana is a water loving wimp. Nice plant with enough water. I have liatris pycnostachys and it is SO big that it's not suitable for the corner of my front door. You get the picture ?

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago

    I admit that I didn't read your OP very well and I really do not know seasonally wet/dry very well. I think dewberries. Your dry is my wet kinda thing . God knows what your wet means to me., so really I should just keep my trap closed.

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Actually some of the best candidates that have been suggested have been Texas natives. They will take the heat and drought (usually), however, early spring-summer wetness can be their downfall (sigh). The best suggestion yet is sphaeralcea by Campanula. I just wish I could buy a plant locally of it :(

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago

    I do not know if desert mallow will take your sodden springs. I have a couple of varieties. I just dug one up for a swap but it gets tall, about 4' tall and spreads by stolons which is weird for a desert mallow. I have a really low variety that I got from TxR and it is just settling in the hot dry dry dry area of my garden. No seed yet. I have got one to grow from seed from some old seed from TxR. And I just bought a S ambigua ( reddish) yesterday. If I see seed I will get a hold of you. Allplains has several varieties that one might find one that is more water tolerant. PoSW has a few varieties. I would look for S. cocinea. It has the largest range. It would still need mounding and rocks for drainage. How about bitter weed. It is an annual,Helenium amarum. I will be having lots of seed of them soon.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago

    Callirhoe has some different varieties also. Callirhoe alloides, Callirhoe digitata,C pedata. I might have miss spelled them That one would be better than the Desert Mallows . Also Calylophus berlandieri takes drought and wet. This I have plenty. Calirhoe has white ones In spring I have seedlings. I can mail up NOW calylophus if you want try. I can look for som callirhoe that is not too big. It develops a tap root pretty quickly. Showy primrose is good. Might take over your bed, but the turkscap will come right through it. I probably can find that in the spring. It gets burnt back by the summer so I can't find it now.. How about Muhly cappilaris will take some drought but it would like your richer dirt.

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I've grown S. munroana successfully in NE Oklahoma for several years when I lived there...it also did stolons, but not too aggressively. Mine were about 1.5 feet tall (sometimes to 2.5 with wispy bloom stalk). I got a care package from TxR a couple weeks ago, may have to relook at it and see if any thing would fit, she send me some odd things.

    I always regarded bitter weed as a weed, but it would certainly grow there (lol). Not that I want it to.

    I already have three species of callirhoe and love them... And might consider that. Yeah that evening primrose is a bed colonizer, scary.

    I collected C. aloides in Oklahoma and found it ok, but nothing special. It seemed to reseed well. The two I have now that are much more showy are bushii and involucrata.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The turscap will grow through the showy primrose. They will cohabitant well. I have it growing with salvias and aloes, turkscap, Mimosa borealis. I have a wild looking place.

    I forgot, Blackfoot daisy is the best!!!!!! 4 nerve daisy too. These will give LONG lasting color. They might slow down a little in the height of summer but any summer moisture will give them a boost. They grow in the driest of places and the moist areas too.TxR says that hers keep blooming all summer. She has more soil than me . I think the clay under neath keeps a sense of moisture. My high hill just gets damn dry. 4 nerve daisy will give me color all months sporadically. They are going right now I can collect seed for these. Actually , I just potted up some for a swap

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    TxR has sung the praises of those several times to me. I'd be happy if you could send me some seed Mara.

  • Campanula UK Z8
    5 years ago

    Ooooh Mara, palafoxia callosa - what a cutie! Gypsophila has a rival. I have collected an array of knapweeds for just that raggedy pink inflorescence (and have a few pinks - carthusianorum, cruentus and gratianopolis) just in their first year (so not flowering till next season) and if I could only grow lychnis flos-jovis (ragged robin), I would be in heaven.

    I have never been shy to express my inner beautypageant/ballerina pinkiness -at certain times of year, the garden is awash in it - from blush to magenta and allshades in-between. Would surely love some seeds.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Did you want the Blackfoot daisy seed or the paloxifolia, or both, dbarron?

    Camp, Here they are growing short. The soil is some piled up Decomposed Granite sand and compost just piled onto some hardpan caliche. I am collecting seed for you Camp.

    Here it is growing tall in thicker DG mixed with gravel and native soil, bone meal. No irrigation in any of these beds.

    This is the first year that I introduced them here.

    My cactus garden but after the last two wet years, much of my cactus died. It is a wild zone.

    Here is some Blackfoot daisy and volunteer bitterweed hugging a Cyndropuntia leptacaulis. This area is still in a building phase. The Cylindropuntia just came out of the pot. I got the cutting off a 6' specimen. I had never seen one with such attractive long needles and a treelike centralized structure. The segments don't fall off easily.

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I'd like to try the blackfood daisy. If it doesn't work here, I'll try it two or three other places that might be more to it's liking. I have some plants descended from your gifts to TxR that are successful.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago

    I just checked on the seed situation and they just started to bloom again and we don't have seed right now but will have oodles in a bit. I can send you three some SMALL plants to get a head start. PM me your address.

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago

    I have heard about lots of people in east Texas growing it in amended clay with lots more moisture. They get 50 - 60 " of wet stuff per annum compared to my 15 - 30" so it should be good for you..

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    We only get 42 so it's just the timing we'll hope for the best

  • wantonamara Z8 CenTex
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Its always the timing. We had 35" last year and 4 months and not a drop in the summer.. A flood of 10" on Memorial day and 10" on Halloween and nothing inbetween.

  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    This year, it rained from March through mid June, and gave interval rains through early August. The threat was early spring to summer..which is usually one of the most disasterous times...darn Ma Nature.

  • northraleighguy
    5 years ago

    I'm also in the market for a low-growing "filler" plant with some flower interest, or even a cespitose grass, but so far am striking out on the sesleria and sporobolis fronts (too hot and sunny for sesleria, and can't find any sporobolis). But I know that the procumbent phloxes (phlox stolonifera) work really well in full sun here in 7b NC. Also catmint 'Early Bird' is a low-grower with decent spreading ability.

  • echolane
    5 years ago

    What about Erigeron karvinskianus? It's one of those plants that seems impervious to heat, gallops if allowed. I have it doing very well in a wild part of my garden where it is in almost full shade and where it can nearly drown with wet feet and puddles of water in winter. Uh-oh, I just looked up hardiness. It says 15F. Is that hardy enough?

    dbarron thanked echolane
  • dbarron
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    The spot is now filled, but my reading is that Erigeron karvinskianus is suppossedly hardy to z5 or 6 (not 15F), but I've never tried to grow it myself. In general things that thrive in CA hate it here, can't grow a thing that likes San Francisco climates (just noting the apparent fact).

    Also saw recommendation that it prefers cool summers (we don't have that), a comment that it doesn't seem to like summer humidity (we have that), or cold damp winters (we have that), if happy can spread invasively (don't want that). Lol, sounds very iffy and if it really did do well, a nightmare in the making. I appreciate your suggestion, but I think I'll steer clear.

    No, I have a western wallflower (my own idea...kinda doubtful), blackfoot daisy, and texas craig lily in the hole now. And a purple poppy mallow waiting in the wings in case the something gives up a space.