Are We In A Drought?

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:

Flowering Perennials

Achillea millefolium

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’

Allium ‘Millenium’

Allium cernuum

Amsonia hubrechtii - Willow Leaf Blue Star - Photo by KV SALISBURY
Amsonia hubrechtii – Willow Leaf Blue Star

Amsonia hubrechtii

Amsonia illustris

Amsonia tabernaemontana

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias verticillata

Aster azureus

Aster cordifolius

Aster divaricatus

Aster laevis

Aster macrophyllus

Aster oblongifolius

Aster spectabilis

Baptisia australis

Baptisia tinctoria

Calamintha nepeta

Callirhoe involucrata

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’

Dalea purpurea

Danthonia spicata

Desmodium canadense

Echinacea pallida

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea tennesseensis

Echinops bannaticus

Erogrostis spectabilis

Eupatorium altissimum

Eupatorium hyssopifolium

Eryngium planum ‘Blaukappe’

Gaura linheimeri

Geum triflorum

Helianthus microcephalus

Helianthus occidentalis ssp dowelianus

Heliopsis helianthoides

Kalimeris incisa

Kniphofia uvaria

Leucanthemum x superbum

Liatris ligulstylis

Liatris microcephala

Liatris scariosa

Limonium latifolium

Monarda fistulosa - Wild Bergamot - with bees - photo by KVSALISBURY
Monarda fistulosa – Wild Bergamot

Monarda fistulosa

Monarda punctata

Nepeta subsessilis

Oenothers fruticosa

Origanum laevigatum

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Phlox stolonifera

Phlox subulata

Pycnanthemum flexuosum - Appalachian Mountain Mint - Photo by KV SALISBURY
Pycnanthemum flexuosum – Appalachian Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum flexuosum

Pycnanthemum muticum

Pycnanthemum virginianum

Ratibida pinnata

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia maxima - Great COneflower - along a walkway - photo by KV SALISBURY
Rudbeckia maxima – Great Coneflower

Rudbeckia maxima

Ruellia humilis

Salvia nemorosa

Salvia x sylvestris

Scutellaria incana

Silene caroliniana

Silphium laciniatum

Silphium perfoliatum

Silphium terebinthinceum

Solidago bicolor

Solidago caesia

Solidago flexicaulis

Solidago nemoralis

Solidago rigida

Stachys officinalis

Stylophorum diphyllum

Teucrium chamaedrys

Thermopsis villosa
Tiarella cordifolia

Tradescantia ohioensis

Verbena bonariensis

Vernonia glauca

Zizia aptera


Ceonothus americanus

Hypericum prolificum

Hypericum calycinum - St. John's Wort - Photo by KV SALISBURY
Hypericum calycinum – ST. John’s Wort

Hypericum calycinum

Grasses & Grass -Like Plants

Andropogon ternarius - Splitbeard Bluestem
Andropogon ternarius – Splitbeard Bluestem

Andropgon gerardii

Andropogon ternarius

Andropogon virginicus

Carex appalachia

Carex humilis ‘Hexe’

Carex lurida

Carex montana

Carex pensylvanica

Carex rosea

Elymus hystrix - Bottlebrush Grass - photo by KV SALISBURY
Elymus hystrix – Bottlebrush Grass

Elymus hystrix

Koeleria micrantha

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Nassella tenuissima

Pennesetum alopecuroides

Schizachryium scoparium - LIttle Bluestem - Photo by KV SALISBURY
Schizachryium scoparium – LIttle Bluestem

Schizachryium scoparium

Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’

Sesleria autumnalis

Sporobolus airoides

Sporobolus heterolepis

What plants in your landscapes have been stand-outs when it comes to drought?

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