Gardening in a drought is no fun. Sure, if you have access to city or well water, you can keep everything living. But nothing will really thrive. As gardeners, we like to be conscious of our footprint on the environment and save water where we can.
One of the best ways to do this is to plant native plants. Once established, these perennial flowers and bushes will help beautify your yard and be able to withstand a drought year. Plus, they are generally very low maintenance–win win!
Be Responsible, Don’t Remove Native Plants From Their Habitat
When I say native plants, I am going to be talking about mostly domesticated varieties that are available in garden centres. Please DO NOT scour country side ditches and transplant native plants to your home. It may seem like you’re helping an endangered species by giving it a controlled environment, but you’re actually hurting it.
Native plants need the specific ecosystem they are in to thrive. Your garden is not that ecosystem. Plus, you’ve just taken away a future source of seeds for that plant from the area.
Finally, removing native plants is illegal and there are steep fines. Ladyslippers and Prairie lilies are gorgeous, but are really best enjoyed in their native Prairie habitat.
Where Do I Buy Native Plants?
The varieties I’m suggesting today should be available for purchase at most local greenhouses, or by mail order. However, if you’d like to go further into the world of native plants, your local Native Plant Society will likely have a list of places you can responsibly order seeds from. Here are links to the native plant groups in the three Prairie Provinces.
Do Drought Tolerant Plants Need To Be Watered?
In short, yes. Like any other bush or perennial, your plants need to be watered every day (unless it’s raining or the ground is saturated) the first year until they are more established. I personally would water them in the second year as well, especially if the weather is abnormally dry or hot.
After the third year, your native plants should require very little care.
Easy to Grow, Low Maintenance Native Plants for the Prairies
One last disclaimer–this list is intended for a beginner gardener in the Prairie Provinces or even the Mid-West of the United States. I garden in zone 3 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and my list is best suited for this area.
I’ve strived to pick plants that are readily available and drought tolerant. This means, they may not be the exact native variety, but a naturalized one. I hope you find this list with pictures helpful!
If you would like to go further in your native plants journey, I urge you to see the sites I’ve suggested above. Is there a plant you feel should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!
Edible Fruit Trees
Showy Mountain Ash
There are lots of beautiful native shrubs, but unfortunately, it is not so easy to find stock photography of them. Please see this website for plenty of shrub options with pictures. I think the Mountain Maple and Smooth Sumac would also be beautiful options.
Wild Blue Flax
Black Eyed Susan
There are many beautiful grasses you can grow to add winter interest and movement to your garden. It is suggested that you grow at least one cool season and one warm season variety. Click here to read more and discover different varieties.
Virginia creeper can become invasive, so plant with caution!
Which one of these resilient plants will you plant? Or will you create a whole flower garden with them?
Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.