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Thursday - August 23, 2012

From: Greencastle,, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Managing Roadsides, Planting, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Moving plants for extreme drought from Greencastle IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


In exceptional drought here in Indiana, I am looking at weeds that may become my next perennials! How do I move what my dad called ragged robins from the edges of roads. They are blue and could be wild flax or something like that. I also want to use Queen Anne's lace, perhaps iron weed. You know it's bad when the lantana I bought are not doing well..too much chlorine instead of Ma Nature? Also, my peonies have both the white mold and brown spots on them. Is that drought related too? I try to water some from under the leaves and muse the chlorine vs. dying benefits..Thank you!


Do you mind if we ignore identifying the roadside flowers you mention, all of which, by the by, are non-native and/or invasive to North America and out of our frame of reference. We have answered another question on moving a specific plant from a roadside, please read the answer by following this link: Moving flowers from roadside.

We know this sounds tempting because the weeds are alive while many of your own garden plants are failing. We would like to offer the idea that you should choose plants native to your area, drought resistant. Properly planted and cared for, these plants have a far better chance of thriving and you won't have populated your garden with plants you may soon wish gone.

Quick side comment on your question about peonies and chlorine. There are two members of the Paeonia (peony) genus native to North America: Paeonia brownii (Brown's peony)  and Paeonia californica (California peony), neither of which is native to Indiana, but to the Far West. Yours are either introduced from Asia or way out of their territory, which may be the problem. As for the chlorine, we have researched before whether chlorinated city or pool water can harm plants. Here is part of our reply:

"Pool water is very similar in makeup to the city water right out of the tap. Many people water their lawns with higher chlorine and lower pH than is found in their pool." So we don't think chlorine is your problem with the peony. From the Garden Helper, here is an article on the growth and care of peonies.

Now, at last, back to your original problem on what to do in a drought- and heat-stricken garden. We say again, plants that are native to where you are gardening will have in their genetic code ways to cope with these conditions, because they have been coping with them for millions of years. We will direct you to our Native Plant Database; using the Combination Search, select Indiana, and then the Habit (shrubs, trees, grasses, etc). Since we do not know the conditions of light in your garden, we will specify only "dry" under Soil Moisture when we make our sample list. Once you have learned to use the database you can select light, projected height, even bloom color and time. 

Herbs (herbaceous blooming plants) for Indiana:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Shrubs for Indiana:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Dasiphora fruticosa (Shrubby cinquefoil)

Trees for Indiana:

Cercis canadensis var. canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Grasses (not lawn grasses) for Indiana:

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

One last thing. This is just a sample list, you are not bound to any of our selections, of course. But you will have difficulty finding them or any others you may select from our Native Plant Database in your large commercial nurseries or home improvement stores. Go to our National Suppliers Directory and enter your town and state or your zip code in the "Enter Search Location" box. You will get a list of native seed suppliers, nurseries and consultants for your general area. There is contact information for each, so you can call or e-mail  before you go for information.


From the Image Gallery

Asclepias tuberosa

Callirhoe involucrata

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Shrubby cinquefoil
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis var. canadensis

American holly
Ilex opaca

Sorghastrum nutans

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

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