Five Water-Wise Native Plants for Your Yard, Based on Your Region
September 6, 2023
With extreme heat, water shortages and drought impacting the country, there has never been a better time to make your landscape less dependent on water resources. Water-wise native plants are the perfect option for homeowners looking to reduce excessive watering and maintenance. Once incorporated into your lawn, these plants make themselves at home to the local climate, support the local ecosystem and present beautifully.
When considering the best water-wise native plant for your landscape, it’s important to consider your specific climate. Different regions have different hardness levels, soil types, elevations, or moisture levels. Check with local nurseries or gardening experts to ensure that the plant you pick is a match for your specific area and growing conditions. It's also essential to note that even drought-tolerant plants may require regular watering before becoming fully established and needing less water.
Check out these five water-wise native plants for your yard in that thrive in one of five specific hardiness zones across the country:
1. California Black Walnut (juglans californica)
The California Black Walnut is a water-wise tree with deep taproots that allow it to access water from deeper soil layers, allowing them to withstand periods of drought and heat. The tree does best when planted in sandy loam, loam or silt loam soils. Its ability to thrive with minimal water once established makes it a perfect addition to sustainable landscapes, providing shade with its dark green, deeply-veined leaves, supplying space for wildlife, and producing edible nuts that can be enjoyed as a treat.
For those in western, pacific states, like California, with USDA plant hardiness zones of 6-9, the California Black Walnut is an amazing option.
2. Prairie Verbena (glandularia bipinnatifida)
A drought-resistant ground covering that does well in hot and arid climates is the Prairie Verbena. It has delicate lavender flowers that bloom from spring to fall and attracts bees and butterflies to its nectar-rich blossoms. Its deep root system allows it to thrive in dry and arid conditions, making it an excellent choice for homeowners that are xeriscaping and water-wise gardening, as it demands little water once established.
This plant is great in the west south central states, like Texas, with USDA plant hardiness zones of 8-9.
3. New Jersey Tea (ceanothus americanus)
New Jersey Tea is a versatile shrub that adapts to a variety of soil and extreme weather conditions. Once established, the plant becomes drought tolerant, no longer needs to be fertilized and has low water needs, making it very low maintenance. Known for its white flowers that bloom in clusters, the plant adds beauty to gardens and landscapes during late spring and early summer. The New Jersey tea also serves as a host for various butterflies and pollinators.
The New Jersey Tea works well in northeastern states, like Massachusetts, with USDA plant hardiness zones of 5-7.
4. Beautyberry (callicarpa)
Native to Florida, the Beautyberry shrub is an excellent water-wise, drought-tolerant plant for yards in hot and humid climates. This plant grows well in full sun and is well-suited for water-wise gardening and landscapes, being able to go long stretches without watering between rainfall. The Beautyberry is a popular choice for its clusters of vibrant purple, pink, or white berries that attract wildlife including birds, butterflies, and bees. It can also last throughout the winter, retaining its bright berries throughout the year, adding a splash of color to the landscape even in the colder months.
The Beauty-berry is best for those living in southeastern states, like Florida, with USDA plant hardiness zones of 9-11.
5. Wild Strawberry (fragaria vesca)
Wild Strawberry is a low-growing plant that is well-adapted to various soil types and thrives in both sunny and partially shaded locations. It is low maintenance and does not require frequent watering outside of extreme dry and hot weather conditions. The plant also produces small, sweet, and flavorful strawberry fruits that can be snacked on and attract wildlife, bringing more color to your landscape.
Homeowners in midwestern states, like Illinois, with USDA plant hardiness zones of 5-6, the Wild Strawberry is for you.
For those looking to add drought tolerant herbs and vegetables in your garden, consider using the below plants. I prefer using Bonnie plants when adding new plants.
To get more inspiration, head to thinkwaterpositive.com and download my ScottsMiracle-Gro Greenprints, available for free via iScape, created to offer homeowners the ability to be inspired and implement the designs at home. Each Greenprint is based on one of five distinct regions within the U.S., so you can customize it to your personal landscape.