Drought Tolerant Plants for a Water Wise Garden

Tips for identifying drought tolerant plants in South Africa

Drought Tolerant Plants for a Water Wise Garden

Recognising Water Wise Plants

Being able to easily identify drought tolerant plants is a great way to build up a water wise garden that is easily manageable, given the current water shortage.

As from 1 January 2018, the City of Cape Town has implemented level 6 water restrictions.

This means that saving water and being water wise is not only vitally important, but can also help you save on your monthly water bill.

Drought tolerant plants can help you keep your garden looking lush, without needing to worry about expensive landscaping modifications.

Audrey Hepburn once said “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” but which plants should you have in your water wise garden?

Let’s discuss a few plant characteristics and considerations to keep in mind during these water-scarce times.

  • Plants with succulent leaves are perfect for a water wise garden as they’re able to store more water in their fleshy leaves. They can then use this water when needed. Some examples of plants with succulent leaves includes aloes, vygies (ice plants), echeverias and crassulas.
  • Plants with small or needle shaped leaves work well as they lose less water through evaporation. This is due to the smaller surface area. Some examples include arcadias, ericas, thyme, rosemary and origanum.
  • Hairy leaf plants also make a good addition to your water wise garden as the hairs slow down water loss. Examples include beach salvia, jade plant and the silver tree plant.
  • Plants that have grey leaves are able to reflect more of the sun’s rays away. This helps keep them cooler during hot days. By doing this, these plants are also able to reduce water use. Examples of grey leaf plants include lavender, arctotis, artemesia and the honey flower.

Water Wise Gardening Tips

Now that you’re able to better identify drought tolerant plants, let’s discuss some tips and techniques to help keep your garden water wise.

More Mulch

Adding mulch to the surface of the soil allows you to trap more moisture for your plants.

This helps reduce the amount of water that is lost through evaporation.

Mulch refers to any material that is spread on the soil’s surface as a covering, with the aim to retain moisture and keep the soil cool.

Natural mulch can be made using materials like compost, chipped bark, grass clippings or shredded leaves.

Find out how you can create your own DIY compost bin – a garden must-have!

Grey Water

As the water crisis continues, most should already be very familiar with grey water.

Grey water refers to all domestic wastewater, excluding sewage, which can be used around the home for landscaping, watering plants or flushing toilets.

Use buckets to collect water from showers, sinks and washing machines, and use it to keep your garden smiling.

Container Gardening

Container gardening (or pot gardening) is also a great water wise option.

This refers to growing plants exclusively in containers, instead of planting them in the ground.

Container gardening makes it much easier to keep your plants well-fed and free of weeds.

An added benefit is that these gardens can be grown anywhere, even on your windowsill.


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