With rain scarce this summer, many home gardeners have spent extra time and money watering their plants to keep them alive.
In recent years, though, a growing number of gardeners have started using plants that are native to the mid-west, in hopes of using less water and less effort.
“Because they’re native to where we are, they’re designed to deal with our fluctuations in climate,” said Candace Minster, garden manager at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at St. Mary-of-the-Woods. “So when we have some hot summers, some dry summers, they tend to handle that a little more effectively.”
Minster said native plants in the center’s gardens have already performed well with limited watering during this summer’s drought.
“When we do have difficult years like this one, they do tend to withstand the drought a little bit better than some of the more delicate hybrids and more showy garden plants,” Minster said.
Garden centers also report a growing interest in using native plants and hybrids of native plants.
“Folks will say ‘Well, I want to lean more toward plants that I believe to be lower-maintenance or more adaptable’ … and native plants fit that bill,” said Ryan Cummins of the Apple House Garden Center.
Still, Cummins points out that native plants will likely need some help surviving a drought as sever as this summer’s, and he said that native plants perform best when they are planted in areas that are similar to where they would grow in nature.
“It depends as much on the site you plant them in as the plant itself, and probably the site is more important when you get into difficult conditions like the drought,” Cummins said.