Calvert – Drought Tolerant Plant Adaptations

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Hello Garden Friends,

Still no water at Calvert. A perfect opportunity to discuss drought tolerant plant adaptations. Today we walked through the garden with the fourth graders and identified plants that were growing well, despite having the water turned off all summer. Rosemary, White Sage, and a volunteer Palm were all worth taking notice of. The students looked at the leaf shape, color, size, and texture to try and guess what things they had in common.

Rosemary drought tolerant adaptations:

Oily fragrant leaves – allow air to enter through the stomata while the oils hold in water.

Small leaves pointing up – small surface area to volume ratio means the leaves can hold large amounts of water relative to their size and the sharp angle in which they grow means the suns rays can glance off more readily than a large flat leaf.

White Sage drought tolerant adaptations:

Oily white leaves – similar to rosemary the oils help the plant hold in water. Contrastly, the white color reflects sunlight and cools off the leaves!

Summer dormant – plant starts to loose some leaves and dry out in the summer to save its energy underground for the spring. This saves water during the hottest and driest months.

Palm tree drought tolerant adaptations:

Waxy leaves – similarly to the oils the waxy coating holds water in the leaf

Spiky leaf edges – prevents large creatures from damaging the plant and stealing the water inside of the moist stems

After going over the adaptations I brought the students some aloe cuttings to throw in the garden beds. Then we watered them in. Below you see some of the children using sports cones to hold water and deliver to some of the new plants, next week I will get them a hose. Praying for the district plumbers!

-Farmer Jeff

Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years. Jeff's passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.

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