How do I recognise water efficient plants?

Water saving is on everyone’s minds. But how do you recognise water efficient plants? Some plants have certain characteristics that make them extremely water efficient. By knowing these characteristics, you will be able to make well informed choices. You’ll recognize if a particular plant is suitable for the low water zone in your garden. Watch out for the following characteristics next time you are at the nursery.

Small or needle-like leaves.

This minimises the surface area from which the plant loses water by evaporation. In other words, there is less area to heat up in the sun. They include the Confetti bush. It’s a common shrub covered with tiny white or light pink flowers for most of spring and summer.  By the same token also Acacia Trees, Asparagus ferns, and Leptospermums.

Grey foliage.

The light colour reflects the sun’s rays away from the plant. This keeps the plant cooler, which in turn reduces water loss. Also look for Tulbaghia Violacea, Pelargonium Reniforme and Helichrysum Petiolare.

Hairy leaves.

Hairs slow down air movement past the stomata, thereby reducing water loss. They also shade the leaf. Similarly look at plants like Gazania Rigens, Carex grasses and Aristida Junciformis.

Closing leaves.

The leaves of some plants close when they are water-stressed. This reduces the amount of leaf exposed to sunlight, and reduces water loss. They include long Matrush Lomandra Longifolia and tall Matrush Lomandra Hystrix.

Succulent leaves.

These plants store water in thick fleshy leaves to be available when necessary. These include Bulbine Frutescens/Latifolia, Sedum species, and Senecio species. There are many different Senecio succulents to choose from. They also add textural interest to your garden.

Waxy leaves.

A waxy coating helps to prevent moisture loss. An example of these are Cycas Revoluta. These striking and sculptural plants are astonishingly hardy as well. Likewise are Plectranthus Verticillatus and Pavetta Lanceolate.

Plants with lighter colours on the undersides of their leaves.

When stressed, they turn the lighter side upward to reflect the sun away. Equally with Alphitonia Excelsa, Frangipani Hymenosporum Flavum and Lephostemon Confertus.

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