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Drought Tolerant Superstars!

By Sara Weber

Is it ever going to rain again?  It’s been weeks, feels like months, since we’ve had a good, steady rain. As I was hand-watering some of my more finicky garden lovelies, I glanced around my yard to take note of what I haven’t been watering that is actually still blooming and thriving.   Here is my quick list of native “plant superstars” that are low-maintenance and take drought like a champ.

Beach Sunflower, Helianthus debrilis
Beach sunflower is a cheery, fast growing Florida native that you will often see along the coastlines near the gulf; it loves full sun and sandy soils – but it can do great in your own home garden.  This coastal charmer is becoming more and more popular in Florida-Friendly Landscapes as a border, edging, or mass planting.  It does well with little irrigation and will often decline if OVER-watered or over-fertilized.  So, if you tend to forget about your plants, this may be the perfect match for you.

Powderpuff Mimosa, Mimosa strigillosa
Also known as sunshine mimosa or sensitive plant, you can’t walk past this gem without taking a second look.  It’s a native, low-growing, ground cover with small round candy-pink blooms, that, well– look just like powder puffs!  They are fast growing and, once established, very drought tolerant.  Put them in full sun, or even partial shade, in a landscape bed, a pot, or even use them in place of turf.  The butterflies love them and I’m certain you will too!

 

Blanket Flower, Gaillardia pulchella
This garden goodie has it all.  A Florida native perennial, blanket flower has many color variations from vibrant yellows to oranges to reds.  Pollinators of all sorts love this heat tolerant beauty that can be used in pots, in sunny landscape beds, or as a mounding groundcover.  Blanket flower has about a 2’-3’ spread and will reach up to 2’ tall – and it will re-seed itself.  On top of all that it rarely has disease or pest problems.  5 out of 5-star plant for sure!

Sara Weber is the Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Education & Training Specialist for UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County.  If you have landscape or gardening questions, she can be reached by emailing sara.weber@ufl.edu.