Are plants the answer to saving Utah from future drought? 7 plants you don’t need to water constantly

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(GTU) – Utah is the second driest state in the nation, and we are currently in an “extreme drought” situation. With the extremely hot, dry summer wreaking havoc on so much of the state, how we manage our water reserves is more vital than ever.

More than 60 percent of Utah’s drinking water is used on outdoor landscapes—and with water shortages expected as early as 2040, changing the way landscaping is done in Utah is becoming increasingly important.

One of the most important ways we can save water is to reduce the amount of water we’re using outdoors. Right now watering restrictions allow you to water your lawn twice a week in Northern Utah and three times a week in Southern Utah. Besides restricting the flow of water for outdoor use, the state is pushing residents and businesses to invest in drought-tolerant landscaping.

By planting native Utah plants that don’t require a lot of water, you can save a lot of that water usage from the outside of your homes. Landscaping with local plants and soils to match Utah’s high-desert climate can help conserve water and support local habitats too. While many plants don’t hold up to the scorching heat, cold nights, or horribly dry soil, there are quite a few plants that thrive in a desert environment.

7 water-wise plants that thrive in Utah landscapes:

1. Yarrow

Yarrow performs best in well-drained soil. It thrives in hot, dry conditions; it will not tolerate soil that’s constantly wet.

2. Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon likes moist soil, but mature shrubs can tolerate some drought. It won’t thrive in very dry or very wet conditions. So plan to water to prevent the soil from fully drying out, and make sure your shrub isn’t sitting in waterlogged soil.

3. Yucca

Yucca thrives in the hottest, driest places, and is similar in appearance to Agave, but with more leaves, which are still leathery, but thinner. Yucca plants grow as a rosette on the ground, but usually in clumps, so they look more like a cluster of large leaves thrusting upwards.

4. Ornamental Grass

Most ornamental grasses perform best in full sun but some can tolerate partial shade, which is useful in hot, arid climates. Most warm-season grasses have thick roots that conserve and uptake moisture, making them ideal for the dry zones of the garden.

5. Jupiter’s Beard

Jupiter’s Beard is an everblooming old-world wildflower with clusters of tiny dark red flowers held over deep green foliage. A tough, durable plant, it thrives with minimal water and cares once established. It is also a great Butterfly plant.

6. Lavender

Lavender is a hardy plant and doesn’t require much attention throughout the growing season. Once established, it’s a wonderful pollinator plant that produces bright blossoms and soft scents, making it an elegant addition to any landscape or garden.


Pasque Flowers

Pasque flowers do best in relatively cool, dry climates, including at high elevations. This makes them a popular choice in the dryer, cooler areas of the Midwest and throughout much of the western areas at high elevations.

Even when the rain stops and the snow falls less often, these drought-tolerant plants will keep your garden going strong. They can survive dry conditions and the occasional mega-drought while adding color, texture, and sustainability to your garden.

If you want to learn some more smart ways to conserve water the Living Planet Aquarium is hosting a Water Conservation Weekend. The Center for Water Efficient Landscaping (CWEL) will also be at the Aquarium for the event. They are a research and outreach center to help improve the efficient use of watering for landscapes. Utah and other western states are currently facing extreme drought conditions. If we act now we can save water supplies and plan for the future by taking a few simple actions.

Visit the Aquarium to learn more about how water impacts ecosystems around the world.

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