Friday, July 8, 2011

Drought Tolerant Native Shrubs of the Southern United States

Drought tolerant plants, trees, and shrubs are great for those gardens that are in hot and arid areas. If you live where there are long stretches without rainfall, finding drought tolerant plants for your garden or landscape will mean less supplemental watering throughout the season. These native southern shrubs are all drought tolerant and can survive between rainfalls.

Viburnum rufidulum Raf. (Rustyhaw, Rusty Black-haw, Downy Viburnum)
This drought tolerant shrub or small tree grows 18 feet tall. Leaves are glossy and leathery growing two to four inches in length. Flowers are creamy-white with two to five inches wide clusters, either flat or round. Drupes are peanut-shaped, waxy, and can be dark purple. It prefers partial shade and dry soils. Propagate by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Vaccinium elliottii Chapm. (Mayberry, High Bush Blueberry)
This drought tolerant shrub from the heath family, it grows up to 12 feet high and three to five feet wide. There are early spring flowers in clusters of pink. Berries are blue-black and less than an inch long. Leaves are an inch or under in length and stems are bright green. It prefers acidic soils in full sun or light shade. It can tolerate dense shade, but will not grow as large.  Propagate by softwood cuttings and by seed.

Ilex cassine L. (Dahoon)

This shrub has a tall structure, often getting to 30 to 40 feet. It requires a spacing zone of 15 to 20 feet. It prefers partial shade and the soil needs are adaptable. It has inconspicuous white blooms and female shrubs have red or yellow berries in winter. It is an evergreen, drought tolerant, and is a great gem for xeriscaping. This can be a smaller narrower tree, but is generally a shrub. To propagate you can direct sow seed outside in the fall. Its red fruits are sometimes used as Christmas decorations. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.


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