Peg Reynolds, matriarch of the reputable Reynold Landscaping, Garden Shop, Nursery and Florist dishes the dirt on cultivating stunning, drought-resistant flower gardens.
Everyone loves flowers in their garden. The question I am asked most is, “What can I plant that doesn’t need any water?” Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a plant that doesn’t require watering, but with thoughtful consideration to plant variety, the help of Mother Nature, and a few expert tips along the way, growing a successful flower garden is right at one’s fingertips.
1# The most important characteristic to seek out when selecting garden plants is usually printed directly on the label and is described as a “low water plant.” Incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into a garden helps to retain as much moisture as possible since the sandy soil of Long Beach Island tends to drain and dry rather quickly.
2# Cover your garden with 2-3” of mulch. This helps to keep the weeds out of the garden (therefore reducing the competition for water) and additionally shields the roots of your plants from the pounding sun. A bonus is that when mulch breaks down, it will also function as additional organic matter in the soil.
3# A common misconception is that raised beds hold moisture better, but that does not hold true—especially with the island’s sandy soil. Avoid growing in raised beds since they tend to dry out the fastest. If that is not possible, there are products to help retain water, such as Soil Moist, that can be added to the soil.
4# When you do water your plants, do so in the morning for maximum benefits. Note that once plants’ roots are established, they are able to tolerate dry spells better. But until then, even drought-resistant plants need regular watering. Remember: It is better to water deeply than light frequent sprinkling.
5# Peg’s top picks for drought resistant flowers are:
Annuals: Portulaca, Lantana, Verbena, Geraniums, Pentas, Dusty Miller, Straw Flower, Angelonia, Marigolds, Cleome, Sweet Alyssum, Cosmos, Begonias, Gazanias, and Zinnias
Perennials: Ice Plant, Penstemon, Coreopsis, Salvia, Black Eyed Susan, Yarrow, Gaillardia, Shasta Daisy, Red Hot Poker, Russian Sage, Day Lily, Gaura, Baby’s Breath Sedum, Lamb’s Ear, Stoke’s Aster, Coneflower, and Butterfly Weed
An old gardener once told me to stick with silver-leaved perennials that are associated with the Mediterranean—such as lave
nder and sage—for water-wise foliage. This seems to hold true with all of the Mediterranean flowers I have encountered. Best of luck, as it will likely be another extra hot summer this year.
Reynolds Landscaping is a family owned, full service landscape operation with more than 35 years of experience designing, installing, and maintaining extraordinary landscapes in Long Beach Island and the surrounding area. The company provides custom design and installation of gardens, landscapes, outdoor lighting, water features, decks, and stonework that create scenic ambiance while withstanding the coastal conditions of the region. Peg and Mark Reynolds, along with their family, operate a total of four shops filled with home décor accessories including a garden shop, nursey, floral market, and landscape design.