Water Savvy Plants

Splashy is out, saving as much water as you can in your small gardening space with the right plants and products is in. Get waterwise with these water savvy plants and flowers!

Before you start . . .
Before you even think of planting water savvy plants, attend to the soil. Improving the soil with well-decomposed organic material, such as compost, will improve its water-holding capacity drastically.

Now think plants . . .
Pick species with a good drought-tolerant factor. Such as plants with grey foliage. These reflect the sun’s rays away from the plant and keeps it cooler which in turn reduces water loss. Pick modern hybrids of old favourite perennials, bred with a higher resistance to heat. And these water savvy plants have much lower water needs.

Silver Stalwarts

  1. Helichrysum petiolare (everlasting) –indigenous, spreading shrub or groundcover with velvety, round silver-grey leaves. Honey-scented, creamy flowers in spring.
  2. Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears) – mat-forming groundcover with soft and woolly lanceolate leaves.
  3. Artemisia afra (African wormwood) – silver-grey, very aromatic leaves and sprays of white flowers at the tips of stems.
  4. Senecio cineraria (dusty miller) – velvety and deeply lobed silver-grey leaves and yellow flowers.

READ MORE: Water-wise gardening – go green, save blue!

Thirst-Free Flowers

  1. Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow White’ – perennial that flowers profusely on compact plants. Very drought-tolerant and easy to grow.
  2. Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage) – arching spikes of purple and white bi-coloured blooms.
  3. Salvia greggii (autumn sage) – tough perennial available in different colour shades. Good repeat bloomer.
  4. Limonium perezii (paper flower) – evergreen perennial that forms a rosette of large leathery leaves. The flowers are large clusters of bi-coloured blue and white blooms.
  5. Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ – delicate looks with a mass of small, white flowers. But very tough and rewarding.

Water Savvy Grasses

Aristida junciformis (nGongoni grass) – tufted indigenous grass with beautiful mauve plumes.
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (purple fountain grass) – sturdy tuft with arching leaves with a rich burgundy colour.

Water Savvy Succulents

Succulents need very little
Using more succulents that store water in their leaves and stems is easy on your water bill and if displayed well can be a garden all on its own.

Save every rainy day
Harvesting rainwater makes ecological and financial sense. Rainwater is relatively clean water. It can be used in the garden for irrigation. And it’s free! Using untreated water in this way reduces the demand placed on the country’s water systems which are constantly under threat.

Install an irrigation system

Watering a garden properly by hand takes time. Often the water does not get to the roots of plants – where it is needed. Installing an irrigation system can alleviate these problems.
A drip irrigation system would be a good choice. This system uses a series of perforated pipes or soaker hoses that can be positioned anywhere throughout the garden without the need of trenching. There is no water pressure needed and the slow rate that the water is delivered means that the water gets to where it needs to go – at root level.
It can be controlled manually, or connected to an automatic controller to time the start and end of a cycle. You can even get weather monitoring systems that will switch off the system if there is going to be rain.

Water retention products
You can use water retention granules in flower beds when planting young plants. Water retentive products break the water-resistant layer of certain soils, draws the water deeper into the plant’s root zones and keep the soil moist for longer.
Treat container plants with water retention crystals, gel or granules. Simply dig it in lightly around the existing plants, water well and finish off with a decorative mulch like bark nuggets. This can also be added to the potting medium before planting.

READ MORE: Three steps to becoming a water warrior

The Gardener