Past Articles Library | Xeriscaping-Annual Vines for a Drought Tolerant Landscape
With the water issues that seem to pop up every gardening year, it is a good idea to design your landscape around what you have. What I mean by this is to utilize what your environment has given you. If you have a wet area, do not try to drain it. This technique will be never ending and expensive. Instead, turn the area into a rain garden, as an example. The same is true for dry areas.
While a wet area may be easily defined as a space that holds water, a dry area is a little harder to hammer down. Yes, it can mean an area such as a desert but most of the time; it is referring to an area that does not receive a lot of rain or one that is really sand, like a beach.
Below are the directions on how to grow two annual vines that tolerate dry conditions. Keep in mind though, dry does not mean you never water. While succulents and cactuses have the natural ability to deal with no supplemental watering, these vines do not but they can deal with short term exposure to dry conditions.
Growing Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
While you may be familiar with the trailing variety of nasturtium, believe it or not there are over 50 varieties to choose from. This includes trailing, bush, dwarf, and variegated.
When it comes to growing nasturtiums, start with seed. This annual does not transplant well but if you must get a jump on the season, only plant your nasturtium seeds in peat pots.
Prior to planting your seed, you will need to prepare it. The seed coat of the nasturtium is very hard. To aid in the germination, the seed will need to be soaked in lukewarm water overnight or nick the seed coat with a knife. Either one of these techniques will make it easier for the seedling to break through the seed coat.
Once you have treated your seed coat, it is time to plant. As stated before, the best approach is to directly seed into the garden space after your local frost free date. The location of your planting should be full sun to partial shade. The soil needs to be well draining and poor. A soil that is too rich will cause the plant to produce a lot of foliage and few blooms.
Now that you have your location, pull out your ruler. The nasturtium seed needs to be spaced so that there is 10 to 12 inches between plants. After you have measured the space and marked it, plant your nasturtium seeds ½ deep and water in. Seeds will germinate in 7 to 10 days.
One cautionary tale about this plant though. Nasturtiums are used as aphid sinks. What this means is this plant is used to attract aphids away from other plant material. When using this in a xeriscape design, make sure that there are no aphid sensitive plants in the design.
Growing Canary Creeper Flowering Vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum)
Just as with the nasturtium, the canary creeper flowering vine likes a sunny location with poor soil. It can grow as a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 and higher. In other areas, the vine can be grown as a beautiful annual.
The name canary creeper flowering vine comes from the location by which it was found, the Canary Islands even though the yellow flower does look like the wings of a canary.
When it comes to growing the canary creeper flowering vine, the best approach is to directly seed into the garden space. This should only be done after your local frost free date has passed. If you want to get a jump on the season, this vine is more forgiving when it comes to transplanting compared to the nasturtium.
Propagating your canary creeper flowering vine by seed, again starts off with preparing the seed. What this means is you will soak the seed overnight in water. While your seeds are soaking, measure off your garden space in one foot increments and mark. These marks are where you will plant your seeds ¼ inch deep. Water the seeds in and keep the soil evenly moist. Your seeds will germinate in about 10 days.
Continue to monitor the soil moisture and once your seedlings are four to five inches tall, back off on the watering.
Ok, I know at this point you are saying to yourself that you cannot wait to fill your xeriscape with colorful blooms. If this is the case then you will need to start your seeds indoors.
To begin this process, count back six to eight weeks from your local frost free date. The date you come up with is the soonest you can start your seed. Next, treat your seeds as if you were going to plant them outside by soaking them in lukewarm water overnight.
While you seeds are soaking, fill your peat pots with an all purpose potting soil. Remember you do not want anything really heavy or full of organic matter. Once you have your peat pots filled, plant them the ¼ inch down into the soil. Now, you will need to water in the plant material but wait. Do not just pour water into the peat pots. When you do this you are running the chance of uncovering the seeds. A better approach is to water from the bottom. This allows the peat and soil to become wet. Since the peat pots are porous though, you will need to water more often.
Two weeks out from your local frost free date, harden off your seedlings. This is the point by which most gardeners make a mistake. What is this mistake? Well, as wonderful as peat pots are they do have a drawback. If not planted correctly, these pots can create a wicking action. They can pull moisture from your plant. While this may not seem like a bad thing with it comes to xeriscaping, it can be a problem. Yes, these vines can tolerate dry conditions but this does not mean any water. This can be the case if the peat pots are not “planted” correctly. To avoid any problems, make sure to plant your seedling so that the soil level and the top of the pot are even. Doing this simple step will prevent the peat pot from wicking moisture away from the plant.