Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 21: Hellstrip Plants

Blazing heat, lean soil, salt, and snowplows are no match for these tough cookies


A hellstrip is typically a patch of garden located by the roadside. It generally has crappy soil, gets hammered by sun, and has to deal with the occasional dose of road salt or even getting run over by bad drivers. This could be the most challenging spot to garden, but the plants in this episode rise to the occasion. Find out which perennials and shrubs laugh in the face of these hellish conditions and look good while doing it.

Expert: Kelly Norris, director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Iowa.


‘Autumn Minaret’ daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Autumn Minaret’, Zones 3–9) shoots off its own 4th of July fireworks. In midsummer the tough-as-nails plant sends up 6-foot-tall bright yellow blooms that persist for weeks.


Unique might as well be the middle name of ‘Blonde Ambition’ gramma grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, Zones 3–10). Its creamy yellow, flaglike flowers give the plant an interesting look and an alluring texture that’s hard to beat.


Almost any catmint will do well by the roadside, but one of Steve’s favorites is ‘Six Hills Giant’ (Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, Zones 4–7) because its flowers are larger and a brighter lavender, giving the plant serious eye-catching appeal.


Although not one of Danielle’s favorite plants because it can be hard to blend into the landscape, Steve swears by the year-round color and drought tolerance of ‘Color Guard’ yucca (Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’, Zones 4–10).

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