Native plants’ drought tolerance
Native plants are extremely popular right now especially as they are being promoted as the solution to everything from saving the bees to climate change. With this much media & marketing hype there’s bound to be problems.
Hype has over-inflated natives qualities; much of it not backed up by any research or even field observation. Magical thinking. Particularly misleading is native plants’ reputation as being drought-tolerant.
“Native plants are not unlike the rest of the plant world,” emphasizes Belinda Gallagher, former head of horticulture, Royal Botanical Gardens.
She’s right. There are native plants that are specialized to grow in wet soils and also native plants that flourish in continuously wet weather. These plants won’t be drought tolerant.
Even if the native plant is drought tolerant there’s no assurance that its horticultural derivative (cultivar, termed nativar) will also be drought tolerant.
In our enthusiasm to find solutions, we may have overpromised and under delivered. By all means use native plants. Some of them are outstanding. But take the hype with a pinch of salt, and just watch and see if your selection of established natives withstands drought. Then pass on the information, please.