UACES Facebook Shade Plants
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Shade Plants

(July 2012)

QuestionLike a lot of people, I'm losing some plants this summer.  You may know that here in Maumelle, we're restricted to once-a-week watering.  Even sneaking around my back yard with my hose isn't doing the job!  You mentioned in your column today that hydrangeas are not drought-tolerant.  I have one that's in a bad spot that I think I'll just take out after this year, so I know what you're talking about. My question is this:  Would it be possible for you to print a list of plants that are drought-tolerant in an upcoming column?  I've threatened to tear everything out and plant cacti next year or maybe just rosemary and Black-eyed Susans, since that's all that's doing well in my garden right now!


AnswerAs mentioned above with the crape myrtles, even they are struggling with the heat!  Also, when planting even the most drought tolerant plants, the first growing season, they will need water.  I can’t imagine what my landscape would look like with once a week watering—the soil is so incredibly rocky, and I am on a slope, so I feel for you with water restrictions.  Deep, excellent soil encourages deep roots, which makes it easier to water less often.  Some drought tolerant shrubs for sun include: abelia, althea (rose of Sharon), forsythia, spirea, buddleia (butterfly bush), barberry, junipers, beautyberry, nandina and ninebark.   For shade, acuba, cleyera, and even camellias once they are well established.  Perennials include rosemary, thyme, lamb’s ear, butterfly weed (milkweed), yarrow, gaura, rudbeckia (black eyed Susan), purple coneflower, liatris, sedum and penstemon.  Annuals include lantana, periwinkle, cleome (spider flower),  cockscomb, cosmos and portulaca.  There are also a good number of succulents—plants with thick fleshy leaves that are available from nurseries.

QuestionCan you tell me if I've killed my Mexican Heather? I pruned it back during the winter, and now I see no signs of life whatsoever. Will it come back anyway this summer? Also, can you recommend some good annuals for this area (LR) that can tolerate the extreme hot/humid conditions we see here in the summer? I've found that most of the annuals I can find at local discount stores are not really suitable for the Arkansas summers, especially impatiens. I've never had any luck with them. It seems that when it starts to get really hot, they die. I usually plant them on the north side of our house in deep shade.


AnswerMexican heather is really not a perennial in Arkansas. We have had some survive the past two winters, but we haven't had much of a winter. I would consider it an annual, and if you see signs of life in the spring, count yourself lucky. As to other heat loving annuals, there are many. Melampodium, lantana, Mexican heather (as you know), the new petunias, tithonia, Mexican zinnias, and begonias to name a few. Impatiens normally do great in Arkansas, they tolerate heat fine, provided they get some water. Other shade lovers include torenia and the wax leaf begonias, caladiums and coleus.


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