Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 70: Plants That Made It Through Summer’s Worst

Video by Danielle Sherry & Steve Aitken, Edited by Kara Demos

Here in the Northeast, we experienced one of the hottest summers on record. In Connecticut (where we make this wonderful podcast), we broke a 38-year record for most consecutive days over 90°F. Add to these steamy temps a record low rainfall, and this summer turned out to be pretty miserable—and not just for Steve, who always likes to have something to complain about, but for our plants. Therefore, we thought it was a good time to take stock and see which plants of ours simply made it through. Our selections include species we never expected to be drought-tolerant and cultivars that seemed to fair better than others. Given the topic, we had to reach out to David Salman, a renowned horticulturist from New Mexico, to see what plants made it through a decade old high-intensity drought (after a year’s respite in 2019) in his backyard. Surprisingly, he says, quite a few.


Expert testimony: David Salman, chief horticulturist for High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico.




‘Boogie Woogie’ variegated sedum (Sedum ‘Boogie Woogie’, Zones 3–9)

‘Opalescence’ garden phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Opalescence’, Zones 3–8)

‘Apple Court’ painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum ‘Apple Court’, Zones 5–8)

‘Visions’ Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis ‘Visions’, Zones 4–8)



Lotus Moon™ pearl bush (Exochorda x macrantha ‘Bailmoon’, Zones 3–7)

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris, Zones 4–8)

Japanese holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum, Zones 6–10)

‘Gro-low’ sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’, Zones 4–9)



Prairie zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora, Zones 4–9)

Woodland beargrass (Nolina greenei, Zones 5–9)

Dwarf silver-leaf sage (Salvia daghestanica, Zones 5–8)

Pink cotton lamb’s ear (Stachys lavandulifolia, Zones 5–8)


Pink cotton lamb’s ear. Photo: David Salman
'Apple Court' painted fern
‘Apple Court’ painted fern
'Boogie Woogie' variegated sedum
‘Boogie Woogie’ variegated sedum
'Opalescence' garden phlox
‘Opalescence’ garden phlox
'Visions' Chinese astilbe
‘Visions’ Chinese astilbe
Japanese holly fern
Japanese holly fern
Lotus Moon™ pearl bush (credit: Bailey’s Nursery)
Lotus Moon™ pearl bush. Photo: Bailey’s Nursery
‘Gro-low’ sumac (credit: Joshua McCullough)
‘Gro-low’ sumac. Photo: Joshua McCullough
Pasque flower
Pasque flower
Woodland beargrass (credit: David Salman)
Woodland beargrass. Photo: David Salman
Dwarf silver-leaf sage (credit: David Salman)
Dwarf silver-leaf sage. Photo: David Salman


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