Bulbs are an excellent choice in the garden of the future, and with their natural moisture storing structure, most bulbs tend to be more drought resistant than plants without this adaptation. In our record-breaking California drought, with significantly little precipitation and night temperatures noticeably higher here in the Western and Southern parts of the country, landscapers and gardeners must change what we plant, but also when we plant and how deeply we dig into the (now efficiently draining) soil.
And while many consumers are cancelling or postponing their landscaping plans over worries of water shortages and drought-raised irrigation costs, savvy homeowners and landscapers see the drought as an opportunity to replace the often mostly non-native, water-thirsty plants with more efficient gardens, using bulbs and succulents.
Gardens and landscapes comprised of California native plants and bulbs use 60 to 90 percent less water than conventional landscapes and require fewer fertilizers, soil amendments or pesticides, so everybody wins. Many communities are offering kickbacks for replacing lawns with water-efficient gardens. Be sure to check out possible offerings in your community.
Fall is the best time to plant because the winter provides cooler temperatures and rainfall. The plants have an easier time of rooting and becoming established. Plant bulbs, perennials and shrubs in September or October for best results.
Bulbs are an excellent choice in the garden of the future, and with their natural moisture storing structure, most bulbs tend to be more drought resistant than plants without this adaptation. Many of these types of bulbs tolerate drought conditions, especially in the summer while dormant.Storing their entire life cycle in a swollen underground stem, the bulb contains the leaves, flowers, food and the bulblet. And most flowering bulbs produce bright-colored flowers, giving the garden seasonal color. Some good choices for California include:
Foxtail Lily For those who like drama, these sun-loving spiky perennials prefer less windy conditions for obvious reasons. They make lovely cut flower arrangements.
Dahlias These heat and sun-loving dark blue flowering plant blooms from late spring through mid-summer. We carry many varieties and though they typically are water-loving perennials, there are ways to cut your H2O supply. See the link at the end of this article for tips.
Spring bulbs give the garden color after a gray winter. Long, arid summers keep dormant bulbs dry, helping to prevent basal rot and other diseases common where soil conditions are warm and moist.
Darwin Tulips These have the largest of all tulip flowers and are perfect for Northern California. Use pre-cooled bulbs for planting in beds and containers.
Geranium Daffodil Extremely drought tolerant for six months of the year, daffodils thrive in Western gardens. With the power to lift our spirits at the end of a drab winter with colorful blooms and fragrance, these sweet smelling daffodils convince us that spring has arrived. Perfect for cut flowers, beds, borders and containers.
Iris Danfordiae This perennial blossoms in January and offers one of the earliest fragrances of the year. The main bulb will eventually split into many bulbets, which will flower after several years. They are suitable for rock gardens and borders.
Additional information can be found here:
Drought resistant dahlias: http://mybrokengarden.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-produce-drought-resistant.html
Drought tolerant daffodils: http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/dewy-daffodils-for-a-mediterranean-climate/
Drought tolerant perennials: http://www.perennialresource.com/articles/518_Drought-Tolerant-Perennials.aspx