Focused On Drought Tolerance

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Focused On Drought Tolerance

Facing continuous watering restrictions in Southern California, EuroAmerican Propagators’ founder John Rader was inspired by the way Australia has been positioning gardening over the course of a very long, severe drought. His vision is to show consumers they can still enjoy color and conserve water and would like to lead the public on a whole new adventure in gardening. “It’s a whole new look and feeling,” Rader says. “You don’t have to feel you have to sacrifice. Usually with environmental issues we are told we’ll be losing. They take away your water, gasoline, color or lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can still enjoy color and an enhanced lifestyle.”

In the demonstration beds, he mixed succulents with grasses and annuals. Turns out many popular annuals, like calibrachoa and sutera (bacopa) like it on the dry side in the ground and don’t have to be watered as often as in baskets. Arctotis is another one of his favorite genuses that likes it dry. Rader has been working with breeders in Australia in bringing drought-tolerant plants to market. One is a landscape ptilotus called ‘Platinum Wallaby’ from tissue culture. Popular Australian floral crops cut from shrubs, like wax flower, are also being adapted to liner production as a new crop. He’s also taking a look at proteas from South Africa, another popular floral crop that likes dry conditions.

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at

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