Last year I had so many plants in pots on my back deck that, during hot dry periods during the summer, I had to water twice daily. The deck faces west so got hot afternoon sun that dried out the pots so that the watering became almost a full-time job! I should not have planted so many containers with annuals, but I got carried away buying too many plants in the spring.
During our hot Midwestern summers, it is good for pots to get some afternoon shade. Also, pots dry out more quickly than beds do, so it is best to plant annuals in the ground.
In my clay soil I have learned to rely on perennials with long tap roots that go down deep into the soil for their moisture. Oriental poppies, cone flowers, Japanese anemones, and sunflowers, for example.
Annuals that do well in hot and dry gardens include cleome, cosmos, globe amaranth, Iceland poppy, portulaca, and nasturtium. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, and sage also adapt well to dry soil and have the added benefit of being disliked by deer.
If you want to minimize watering, perennials such as yarrow, artemesia, campanula, coreopsis, black-eyed-Susans, salvia, santolina, scabiosa, sedum, and lamb’s ears are good choices.
Water deeply when you do water, so that the water goes down deep into the soil. A trough around the plant may also help the water from running off the surface. A light surface sprinkle is not much use.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on dry gardens.