The Dry Garden: Watering native plants in summer, or not

Posted on | June 23, 2009 | 1 Comment

WHILE most Southern Californian gardens require more water in summer, native gardens need less. In fact, they take so much less that if you haven’t watered a native plant to death, then you probably haven’t tried native gardening. It’s a rite of passage, closely followed by the second rite of withholding all summer water — and killing the plant that way.

This is not to suggest that native plants are hard to grow. They’re just easy to kill. The key to reaping their beauty and benefits without watering them to death is understanding summer dormancy.

For the rest of the story in this week’s Los Angeles Times column The Dry Garden, click here.


One Response to “The Dry Garden: Watering native plants in summer, or not”

  1. Adan Ortega Jr.
    June 24th, 2009 @ 5:24 am

    Bart and Mike told me early on about the benefits of mulch when I was planting my native plant garden. If one mulches early enough in a plant’s life and uses mulch (that air can get through and water) it tends to keep the ground cooler during hot days. On most plants especially Coast Live Oaks its also best to let the leaf litter alone. We also found that the answer to summer water is plenty of winter and spring water. Our plant luck turned around when we watered at least monthly from Nov – May in the first two years of our garden. We take care to stay with healthy yearly rain averages. In months when it rained sufficiently we skipped the watering. Finally, native plants are resilient. Last year we mistakenly thought we had killed all our St. Catherine’s lace and red buckwheat- it turns out that some don’t live very long and that they are very good at seeding themselves – and now we have an area they seem to like with all kinds of babies, young and older ones mixed together. Now we spot water struggling plants in the summer only in cooler weather. The rest get by on their own until late October when they wake up.

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