Drought tolerance is characterized by a plant's ability to get by on less water. Yet native climate often defines the boundaries of this trait. The plants in this list all share the ability to grow in arid conditions when water is scarce.
A plant that tolerates and perhaps thrives on less than 15 inches of annual rain may be overwhelmed by moisture in a state where drought lowers the annual average from 50 to 40 inches. But Flowers by the Sea also gladly provides information if you ask about Salvias and companion plants that are appropriate for drought in damper parts of the nation.
One definition of drought is a below-average amount of rain and snow over an extended period, such as during more than one growing season. Yet drought is caused by more than a shortfall of local precipitation.
Even if your area’s seasonal average of moisture is at a historically normal level, the level in another region may not be. If waterways and dams connect the two regions -- such as in the American West -- low river levels can mean decreased water storage and drought for both areas. Furthermore, if your region’s population is growing but its water supply isn’t, that can also lead to drought due to insufficiency.
This adds up to a web of trouble that can only be untangled through water conservation. One effective conservation measure is to design gardens with plants that are attractive yet need little water. These are called xeriscapes, waterwise landscapes and dry gardens.
Drought tolerance is closely connected to the term "xeric," a Greek word for "dry” and the root of xeriscape. Xeriscapic plants include species accustomed to arid climates or dry summer/wet winter growing conditions, such as along coastlines with Mediterranean climates.
The Salvias and companion plants in this list share the ability to grow when water is scarce. They are attractive even while surviving minimal summer water. Many are native to arid regions or are from Mediterranean climates.
Before ordering plants, please carefully consider your local growing conditions in order to select species that will be right for your climate and yard. We're happy to provide recommendations.
(Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.
(Yellow Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Dusty pink with pale yellow throats, the bicolor pastels of this Salvia x jamensis are especially charming up close. 'Yellow Pink' is a compact sage with tiny, smooth foliage.
(Hidalgo or 7-UP Plant) I love to ask people what the smell of these leaves remind them of. Almost no one gets it on the first try, but when I say, "7 UP", their eyes light up, heads nod and the resounding answer is, "Yes!"