You often hear that certain plants are "drought tolerant" or "water conserving," but what does that really mean? Several scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife decided to put it to the test and find out.
Published in September 2016, The Drought Survivability Study tested 96 native plants under 4 different irrigation levels for 4 summer months to see how each plant handled the lack of water. The four levels of watering were 60%, 40%, 20%, and 0% of the Potential Evapotranspiration, or amount of water that is removed from the soil from the heat and wind each day. So 60% replaced 60% of the water lost, and 0% got zero water.
Even if you don't want to read the entire study, look at the photos side by side of each plant for a comparison of what level of watering is really needed for these native Texas plants. Some plants acctually fared worse with the highest watering level! Many of the plants in the study are Texas SmartScape listed plants and nearly all are commercially available.
If you have some of these plants, you may be over-watering them and could get much better results simply by turning off your sprinklers.
Thanks to Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas Water Resources Institute, San Antonio Water Systems, San Antonio River Authority, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Austin Water, the City of Georgetown for funding this amazing study!