Gardening in Dry Conditions

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Daniel Mosquin, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    With last summer being very dry locally, and this summer having the potential, I thought it appropriate to start a forum specifically for gardening with water conservation in mind.

    UBC Botanical Garden Water Use Policy (with links to Greater Vancouver Regional District Water Conservation Initiatives)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2004
  2. raichael

    raichael Member

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    North Columbia, California
    I would just like to get the ball rolling on this discussion, because I think it is very important.

    I live in the mountains in northern California, it is cold and wet in the winter and dry in the summer... This is similar to British Columbia, however, it does not rain enough to "stick" normally from mid-May until sometime in September... If you can grow anything in the summer without water it is truely adapted to these conditions.

    With that said there are an amazing number of beautiful plants, trees, etc. that will grow and even thrive in these conditions.

    A few points to consider that will help in trying to figure out what will grow with little or no water.

    • Has it been described as a "weed", agressive or invasive?
    • Has it been described as drought tolerant?
    • Can you grow it from seed?
    • How much water do you mean by little? Or none?
    • Is it a culinary herb?

    For the first point, this is a good indication that you are dealing with a plant that can withstand a variety of conditions, including drought...which is the second point. Often we are directed to water regularly until the plants are established, however if the plants are started in the ground where they are to grow from seed just before the wet season starts there is no need for this period of adaptation. Lastly, I actually have plants that are unhappy if I water them at all in the summer (would you believe tulips?--that is a subject for another posting though). The point being to consider whether you intend to water at all, because this will help determine the scope of your search.

    I have found an excellent place for searching plants (California natives mostly) based on their cultural requirements. ( Also, check out the California Native Plant Society at (I am in the Redbud Chapter area, their website is

    Have fun,
  3. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Just a quick note in regards to threads in this forum:

    When gardening in dry conditions I think it does matter
    for us to know as to what if any water will be applied to
    the plants. Are we talking about no added water what
    we, in familiar terms, call dry land farming in which all
    of the water needs are supplied by natural rainfall. Or are
    we planning to add some water in very limited quantities
    to our plants by way of hose watering, sprinklers or drip

    Where my cabin is there are water restrictions that have
    been imposed for several years now, not only to conserve
    water but to allow for ample water when needed in case
    of conflagration. We have almost the same type water
    restrictions, even at the misses home whereby we can only
    water our lawns, plants, trees on specific days of the week.
    The only real difference in the two areas, vastly different
    zonal areas, one is a Zone 1A and the other a Zone 8 by
    Western Garden Book standards (I never have used USDA
    zone standards as a Zone 8 in Georgia is really not close
    other than low temps to being the same as a Zone 8 is in
    California for growing conditions), is that the yard watering
    in the mountainous community is restricted to two hours in
    the morning and two hours in the evening as opposed to the
    Valley floor which currently is designated as being all day
    watering on specific days (odd versus even days) of the
    week only. I can water in both locations on Tuesday,
    Thursday and Saturday only for example.

    With drought conditions or imposed water restrictions it
    becomes imperative that we know the water needs of the
    plants we wish to grow and how we plan on watering them.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2004
  4. Candy

    Candy Active Member

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    Burnaby, B.C. Zone 7ish
    The Native Plant Society of B.C. is a good resource for native plants that are adapted to our local climate and, therefore, survive without watering (assuming they're planted in appropriate conditions).

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