Sure it has been dry. Some of us cannot remember the last time we had a good soaking rain. Some of us are spending inordinate amounts of time watering. But are we in a drought?
The University of Nebraska- Lincoln hosts a national drought monitor as part of their National Drought Mitigation Center. According to their website, the “Drought Monitor identifies general areas of drought and labels them by intensity”.
They define drought as “a moisture deficit bad enough to have social, environmental or economic effects.”
They go on to label droughts as short term or long term and by intensity.
So if you are hearing we are in a drought, which people do like to say if it hasn’t rained for a while, you can visit this site and find out if we are, in fact, in a drought. They also provide a weekly drought summary for the region and predictions for whether or not the conditions will continue.
According to the 4th National Climate Assessment seasonal droughts are predicted to increase in summer and fall with the changing climate as “higher temperatures lead to greater evaporation and earlier winter and spring snowmelt.”
There is a lot of useful and relevant information on this webpage. But what they don’t tell you are what plants you can plant that will withstand drought conditions, should they occur in your area. As we plan for climate resilient landscapes, those plants that will withstand periods of drought will become more of a necessity in our landscapes.
Drought tolerance happens only after a plant is established. This means you cannot simply plop a plant in the ground and expect it to be drought tolerant immediately. In order for a plant to develop those drought tolerant characteristics, they must first establish their extensive root systems. Regular, infrequent, deep watering is the key to establishing drought resistant root systems. These roots will tend to stay deep in the ground, mining water well below the surface level.
Here are some plants that we think will do well in the increased periods of drought predicted for our near future:
Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’
Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’
Eryngium planum ‘Blaukappe’
Helianthus occidentalis ssp dowelianus
Leucanthemum x superbum
Salvia x sylvestris
Grasses & Grass -Like Plants
Carex humilis ‘Hexe’
Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’
What plants in your landscapes have been stand-outs when it comes to drought?