Foliage Follow-Up: Pond plants & plants that ignore drought

For Foliage Follow-Up today (always on the day after Bloom Day), I’m celebrating plants that don’t require my standing over them with a hose. I have to admit, central Texas’s extended drought is taking a toll even on my xeric garden. Coneflowers are drooping. Daylilies are shriveling. Even the agastache looks a bit peaked. But a number of plants shrug off drought and thrive under the blazing Death Star. What are these amazing plants?

Well, I’m cheating a bit, aren’t I? OK, so my pond plants aren’t drought tolerant; in fact, it’s the opposite. But since I only have to add water to my partly shady pond once a week to make up for evaporation, my pond plants seem pretty low-maintenance right now. These bathing beauties sit with their feet in the water and have no need of a daily drink from the hose or a hit from the sprinkler system. Plus the water is a cooling feature in the garden when things really heat up.

Water lilies steal the show during the sunniest part of the day, but at this time of year I’m in the garden mostly in the early morning or evening, when the lilies are shut tight. Luckily, pond gardening gives you a chance to grow lovely foliage plants, like the burgundy-leaf pond crinum in the photo above this one. The water lily leaves are also quite pretty, with burgundy speckles mottling the deep green, and with bright pink undersides if you lift them for a peek. I also grow a vertical stand of horsetail reed (on the left) and a fireworks explosion of dwarf papyrus (center-back).

On the other end of the spectrum are the very drought-tolerant plants like Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies,’ a shimmering, blue-green orb, no matter how hot or dry it gets. If this summer is teaching me anything, it’s that I need more desert plants.

So what foliage is inspiring you today? Join me in posting about your lovely leaves of June—it’s called Foliage Follow-Up, and it’s a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden. Just leave a comment on this post with a link to your foliage post so everyone can find you, and please link to me in your post. What’s “leafing” you breathless this month?

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

23 Responses

  1. Pam your waterfeature in the centre of the garden is so eyecatching and those water lily leaves seem to be thriving in all of your heat.

    We’re in an el nino weather system here in Scotland just now so the weather is unsettled but the foliage is thriving. My favourite foliage plant in my garden just now is a relatively new red leafed variety of the Harry Lauders walking stick. You can see my favourite selection for June at the link below

    Rosie, thanks so much for joining in! I was unable to leave a comment on your post, but just wanted to tell you how much I admire your plant combos. Those burgundy leaves are to die for. —Pam

  2. Pam, I love the dwarf papyrus in your pond. There’s something magical about that plant. A few years ago I used some in a container garden for a client and the papyrus, not a typical plant for Connecticut, would stop people in their tracks. I posted a quick slideshow of some of the foliage stars in my garden this month. Here’s the link:

    Thanks for hosting all of us foliage fanatics agains this month.

  3. Pam,
    I love your drum of waterlilies!! Just a beautiful setting too. And the light through the papyrus really is magical.

    Thanks for hosting Foliage follow-up. Glad to join this month!


  4. Rose says:

    Pam, your pond is so beautiful! The setting there looks so cool and inviting one would never know how hot it is in Texas. Our weather in Illinois is so unpredictable–last summer we had months without rain, and this year we’ve had more than our share. Native plants seem to be the best choice for something that can stand either extreme.

    I keep meaning to join in on “Foliage Follow-up” but I never can get my act together. Right now the shade garden is at its best, and I’m enjoying the textures and shapes of hostas and heucheras as much as any colorful blooms.

    Hi, Rose! Thank goodness for leafy, green shade gardens in the heat of summer, right? I envy you your hostas and heucheras, which don’t care for Austin’s heat and drought. Well, who can blame them? —Pam

  5. Very nice – hopefully soon, you’ll also be pondering Mobile-native plants to take lots of rain! But it seems what is right around you can take both…even The Death Star. Good choices, too. All the Y. rostrata sold here from Mountain States develop brown tips, probably due to their bad habit of skinning all the old foliage from the trunks. I like yours and the many here so much more.

  6. Your pond is looking so nice and welcoming. I’m always amazed that it stays so clean, without the pump/filter thing.
    And, the yucca is great. That’s on my list of ‘wants’ for when I redo the front driveway island. We need more and more drought tolerant plants here in this garden. I’m just hoping this weather isn’t our new norm.

    Here’s my contribution to Foliage Follow-Up. Thanks for hosting.

  7. Denise says:

    Pam, you’ve got to “spill” and let us in on the secrets of keeping a healthy water garden. I’m close to starting one but we get such a huge amount of tree litter, I’m not sure there’s a spot for one yet.

    Denise, I’ve already “spilled” and wrote a post two summers ago explaining how to make a pond like mine. The secret for a healthy balance in the water is plenty of underwater cleaner plants, shade-making surface plants like water lilies, and mosquito- and algae-eating fish. —Pam

  8. David says:

    Hi Pam,
    Wow, your circular mini-lake has really diversified into a habitat. Be-yu-ti-ful work. I’ll bet the dragonflies love you. Found any frogs yet? I like the contrast in forms between the flat lily pads and the vertical plant elements. Very poetic.
    I’ve posted my foliage for this month…some tropical foliage plants I call ‘Survivors’.
    Happy Foliage Follow-up and thanks for hosting.

    (one of these works as a link, but I forget which one)

    Hi, David. No frogs in the pond yet, but we do see lots of dragonflies enjoying the pond, as well as birds, bees, and even squirrels. —Pam

  9. Ah Pam your stock tank pond is looking fabulous! I’m doing the zonal envy thing again on my Foliage Follow-Up post:

  10. Amy says:

    What a great time to be a pond plant! I love the stock tank pond, and the crinum foliage is gorgeous. Here are some shots of leaves that are surviving the “death star” in my yard:

    Hi, Amy. Thanks for joining in! I was unable to leave a comment on your blog, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your foliage pics, especially that bold, stripey canna—gorgeous. —Pam

  11. Cyndy says:

    Hot and dry doesn’t equal desert – I love how you celebrate your region with plants adapted to the conditions – beautiful!

  12. We’re about to shift totally into foliage as the last spring flowers fade. Our first water plants, however, are blooming. Love those huge water lily pads. You can see our nod to Foliage Follow Up on the blog.

  13. Janet says:

    What a beautiful planting combination in your pond. The papyrus in particular is a very attractive plant. My foliage plants are mainly in our garden or soon will be:

  14. andrea says:

    hey pam, i’m curious if you’ve ever taken the temperature of your water feature’s water? when i take out the hose to water thirsty plants, i’m amazed at how hot the water is when it first comes out of the spigot. must mean that the water lines aren’t buried very deep underground. makes me appreciate plants that don’t need supplemental water, like the yuccas, hesperaloes and mangave – all seem to be doing just fine.

    I haven’t, Andrea, but you’ve made me curious. I know the first couple of inches of water get quite warm to the touch. Lower down it stays pretty cool, especially since I’ve banked up soil several inches on one side. Soil insulation is a big help. Which makes me wonder if the hose water is hot because the hose has heated up, not the underground pipes? —Pam

  15. RBell says:

    That Crinum is something else – beautiful foliage. Here’s my Foliage Follow-up contribution:

  16. ricki says:

    When I read about your heat it warms my bones here in the damp, chilly NW. I try not to be too envious of the exotic (to me) plants you are able to grow.

    might help you cool off.

  17. Oh, I want to try that burgundy-leaved Crinum in a client’s pond! I’ll have to look that one up. Are you finding your ‘Sapphire Skies’ to be as blue as the promo photos show? I’ve not seen a large one in person and am curious. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be able to make it as a gardener if I went back to Texas. I’ve gone a bit soft out here in CA. One hot day comes along (upper 80’s god-forbid!) and I’m limp as a rag.

    Here is my double duty contribution this month:

    Kelly, the crinum is either ‘Sangria’ or ‘Splendens’; click the link to see how it looks in bloom (a couple of times each summer). —Pam

  18. Bernieh says:

    You pond is wonderful. I was wondering the same thing as Andrea. Living in the hot tropics myself, I know how hot water can get in the heat and direct sun … but obviously these plants don’t mind living in warm water for most of the year. The selection of plants in your pond is terrific and that Crinum is just stunning.

    Here’s my foliage follow-up post:

    Yes, the top couple of inches of the pond gets pretty warm, but the plants never seem to mind. The goldfish did; they died off one by one. So now I only keep super-hardy gambusia fish, also known as mosquito fish. They have no trouble with the warm water as they’re used to it in local creeks. —Pam

  19. Greggo says:

    So how large is your tank? I’m guessing 8′ diameter. Pam I went to my in laws and received 30 pieces of galvanized tin. Your recent garden tours have gotten me motivated to design a “Austin” more metal the better. My father in law offered me a 12′ stock tank but couldn’t haul it home. Will see…Love your aquatics.

    Yes, my tank is 8 feet in diameter. Greg, I can’t believe you passed up a 12 foot tank! Well, OK, maybe that is a little large. I’m intrigued to find out what you’ll do with your galvanized tin. —Pam

  20. Everything looks great! I do love your garden shed and path leading to the water garden. Enjoyed your visit and Richard really enjoyed talking to your Richard! :-)

    Take care.

    Cameron, Dad and I both had a marvelous time visiting you and Richard and your beautiful garden. Thanks for your hospitality! I hope to blog about our visit soon. —Pam

  21. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for hosting the Foliage Follow-up! Here’s my post:

    I have a ‘Queen Emma’ Crinum in my garden. Is this the variety you have? Just love it! Didn’t realize it could take pond conditions. Is it annual or perennial for you?

    Toni, a reader ID’d my crinum as either ‘Sangria’ or ‘Splendens’. I bought it as a pond plant; it was labeled simply as a pond lily. I didn’t realize it was a crinum until it bloomed. The first year I had it, it died over the winter. Last year I bought another and whenever hard freezes threatened, I sank it to the bottom of the pond until things warmed up again (no more than a day or two, typically). It overwintered just fine with the occasional “water bed” treatment. —Pam

  22. Melissa says:

    A day late but I wanted to add a post anyways. Nothing as wonderful as your foliage but they are mine and I like em. Wonderful pictures. So here is my post.

  23. I think that my aunt and uncle need one of those purple-leaf crinums for their pond… just so I can see it when I visit! I love that–it reminds me of my burgundy eucomis.

    I posted my foliage follow up today, too. You can see what my crazy monstera has been up to, here: