Poor soil and occasional drought conditions... Does that mean a dull,
scrappy or even non-existent landscape? That's a problem that worries
many readers, judging by my e-mailbag.
But the answer is No. Even if you have poor soil and a potential
drought from time to time, you can still enjoy an attractive and
Here are a couple of potential solutions if these are issues you are
dealing with in your garden.
<a href="http://www.greenwoodnursery.com/page.cfm/63381 ">Sedum Black
This variety of Sedum is quite new and really is spectacular. It has
the deepest, dark purple foliage imaginable. In fact at times it can
look almost black as the color deepens towards the end of summer.
Black Jack is easy to grow and is hardy in most parts of the country.
It has thick, succulent leaves that can store water, and because of
this it is drought tolerant. It actually prefers poor soil, as long
as it is well-drained and located in full sun to partial shade. In
fact, if planted in rich soil, it tends to become lanky and open.
It is a perennial with an upright growing habit (unlike some
sedums) and develops sturdy stems that support the 8 inch flower
Expect it to reach around 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
If you want to maintain its compact growing habit, I suggest you
divide your Black Jacks every three to four years. You'll find that
older plants tend to split in the center if they haven't been
divided. If you want to know how to divide plants like this, you are
welcome to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll reply
with a brief "how to."
If you are "blessed" with poor soil but would like a rich-looking easy-
care perennial, Sedum Black Jack could be worth a look.
<a href="http://www.greenwoodnursery.com/page.cfm/63371 ">Gaillardia
It's hard to believe that this flamboyant and colorful perennial
prefers poor soil but that's the case. It is heat-tolerant and will
do best in full sun. In fact, given too much shade it will tend to
I particularly like the unique look of the blooms, with their dark
centers surrounded by a ring of yellow-tipped red tubular petals. The
grower who introduced me to this variety called Fanfare a "blooming
machine," putting forth its unusual flowers from early spring right
through into the fall.
Fanfare is ideal for borders or mass plantings, and its compact shape
- one to two feet high with an 18-inch spread - makes it an ideal
A container or two of Fanfare near the kitchen door could provide
you with some nice displays of cut flowers, too.
I should point out that "poor soil" for Fanfare doesn't mean heavy
Fanfare prefers well-drained moist soil but is very tolerant of
drought conditions and requires very little care beyond deadheading
spent blooms to prolong blooming time.
<a href="http://www.greenwoodnursery.com/page.cfm/64106 ">Grass
If you are somewhat inexperienced as a gardener, or even an absolute
beginner, this could be a good plant to develop your green thumb with
a very good chance of success.
Music lovers will recognize the word allegro which means "a quick
lively tempo" so you would guess correctly that this plant has a fast
Allegro is a perennial ornamental grass that is robust and sturdy as
well as fast-growing, making it a good choice for a hedge or an
It has a distinctive, feathery look that sways in the breeze and
sports red blooms in August and September. If you're a little more
adventurous, you can use it as a backdrop for plants with darker
shades of color and foliage in a large mixed border.
Best of all for newbie gardeners, Allegro can grow in virtually any
soil from loose sand to heavy clay and doesn't even require
particularly good drainage. The only maintenance required would be an
annual haircut about 8 inches from the ground.
Great gardens don't always need great soil!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to <a
e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org