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Water-Wise and Native Plants


Learn water savvy from the natives.

Many of the native plants that thrive on the East Coast are already water savvy. They’ve adapted both to hot, humid weather and hot, dry weather so they have lower water requirements, fewer pest problems and need less fertilizer than non-native plants.

There are dozens of species of beautiful and hearty plants from which to choose. Just plant them in the right spot, and give them room to get established. To assist you in your search, there are several beautiful native plant guides available. Here are two great resources to help you find the perfect plant to add to your Hampton Roads landscape:

Native Plants for Southeast Virginia Guide
Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, Chesapeake Bay Watershed

  • You don't have to have a green thumb to choose the right plants for your water-wise garden. To spot a drought-tolerant plant, look for plants...

    With bulbs.
    Their underground water/nutrient storage structure makes them more drought-resistant (daylilies, daffodils, dahlias, gladiolus, ginger lilies, and canna lilies).

    With a horizontal underground root system that produces additional roots and shoots (many varieties of irises).

    With thick and/or fleshy leaves like cacti and succulents.
    These plants are typical of the west, but do well on the east coast (ice plant, Delosperma, Setcreasea, Pittosporum and Oleander).

    With very tiny or narrow leaves.
    They prefer well-drained soils with less moisture (Atlas Daisy, Butterfly Weed, Bluebell, Blue Flax, Prairie Coneflower and most herbs - thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, lavender, etc).

    With especially hairy foliage.
    These generally only do well in drier areas (lamb’s ears, Phlomis fruticosa, and Salvia argentea).

    From dry areas and sandy seaside locations.
    Don’t overlook tall grasses—many are beautiful and drought resistant (Sideoats Grama Grass, Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Avena Grass and Blue Oat Grass).

    Tips courtesy of Mike Andruczyk of the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Environmental Horticulture, Chesapeake Office.
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