Container gardens often fall victim to drought, hot temps, summer travels, or just plain forgetfulness. These drought-tolerant container gardens will stay strong through the heat of summer.


Miniature Desert

A chunk of driftwood and three types of false cypress -- 'Filicoides Compacta', 'Nana Lutea', and 'Chirmen' -- anchor this sculptural scene. The rocky foreground includes hens and chicks, Hawthornia, and Echeveria, but any small succulents will work.


Flame-tipped Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire' erupts from the center of this volcanic-glazed bowl. It's surrounded by red-edged paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora), Aeonium 'Kiwi', Gollum jade (Crassula ovata 'Gollum'), and sedum 'Angelina'. Pack them tight for the most dramatic effect.


A false cypress pruned into a topiary adds height and dimension to a large container. Orange sedge adds wispy, fluid texture amid Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Euphorbia x martinii  'Tiny Tim'.


With its wiry flower stalks, Australian native Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos 'Kanga Pink' is tough as steel in the heat. Pair it iwth silvery Lamium 'Purple Dragon', fuzzy scented geranium (Pelargonium 'Fragrant Frosty'), and dainty but diehard Gaura 'Belleza Dark Pink'.

Foliage and Flowers

The leathery, strappy burgundy leaves of Phormium 'Wildwood' and nonstop deep violet flower sprays of salvia 'Amistad' star in this container. Silvery Stachys 'Bella Grigio' provides dramatic contrast, and the pale purple flowers of Lantana montevidensis soften the edges. Tip: Silver and hairy foliage usually equals trought tolerance.

Drought-Tolerant Container Tactics

Rex Yarwood of Roger's Gardens offers these tips.

Pots: Conserve moisture by using a container that's slightly larger than the plants you've selected.

Soil: Use a potting soil that's formulated for succulents and other drought-friendly plants.

Like-Minded: Combine plants with similar needs. Look for word on plant tags like "water-wise", "desert native", or "drought-tolerant."

Reduce Stress: Place pots where they'll receive morning sun and afternoon shade at peak heat.

Water Early: It's better to start the day hydrated than to quench a big thirst later.

Auto Drip: Set up a drip irrigation kit designed for containers to direct water to the root zone without waste.


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