Native plant drought assessment can support water utility advice

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The Drought Survivability Study (credit: TWRI)
The Drought Survivability Study (credit: TWRI)

The whole point of ornamental plants is their appearance, so it is not surprising if people water them in an effort to keep them looking their best. This has clear implications for water use, especially in dry areas. With this in mind, researchers in Texas have carried out an extensive evaluation of native plant species to assess their appearance under different conditions of water stress. The aim is to help with the selection of landscape planting that looks good but can cope with drought conditions.

Researchers from the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources conducted the Drought Survivability Study. Its aim was to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the water needs of landscapes in Central Texas.

The researchers noted evidence that people will choose native plants if species conserve water and are perceived as being attractive. They cite other work that has shown that a good appearance can be maintained with limited irrigation, and also that in some cases landscape plants receive excessive amounts of water. They also say that outdoor irrigation can range from 22% to 67% of residential water use, and increases substantially during summer and droughts.

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  • USA, water resources, residential water, drought