Tough Outdoor Plants to Withstand Hurricanes and Storms

A lantana plant.

If you've ever lost a plant you've worked hard to grow, you can understand the heartache it brings. A hurricane or a tropical storm can throw an unexpected wrench into the beautiful garden you've worked so hard to maintain. Choosing the right plants to fill your garden beds can help prevent devastation from extreme weather conditions and tough plants could be the solution to helping your landscape thrive. Read on to learn about tough outdoor plants that can survive the worst conditions.

How to Develop a Hardy Garden

One way to ensure your garden will survive is to fill it with native plants. Native varieties have thrived in your region for generations, adapting to extreme growing conditions and making them some of the hardiest plants. One of the reasons these plants are so successful is that they tend to grow more extensive root systems than nonnative plants, so they'll stand up to heavy rainfall that can cause soil erosion.

Choosing perennials over annuals is another way to ensure your garden will thrive. While annuals die off at the end of the season, perennials re-bloom in the spring and tend to be more resilient against harsh conditions.

How you plant can also have an impact on sustaining tough plants. For example, in areas that are susceptible to drought, avoid growing plants too close together, which forces them to compete for water. In hurricane-prone regions, however, you might have more success planting closer together. The roots of closely spaced plants will intertwine, providing an anchor against heavy winds and erosion.

The Toughest Outdoor Plants

The secret to the success of many hurricane-proof plants is that they're tropical perennials. These plants tend to feature clusters of tiny flowers that recover quickly just a few days after a heavy storm. Some tropical plants feature no flowers, with their hardy foliage providing color instead. Remarkably, however, many of these plants double as both drought tolerant and hurricane hardy, thriving in low-water, high-heat conditions but able to survive through an excessive downpour. Most of these plants are also known for attracting pollinators, making them a triple threat to maintaining a successful garden.

The type of plants you choose to fill your garden will ultimately depend on the area where you live and the specific climate conditions you're facing, but here are some plants built to thrive:

'Indian Summer' alstroemeria is an excellent example of an all-around hardy plant that's also beautiful and easy to grow. This resilient tropical perennial enjoys heat and is drought tolerant once established but will flower robustly with regular water. It's winter hardy to U.S. zone 6 and can produce flowers for up to five months.

'Fireworks' gomphrena is another colorful beauty that's also low maintenance. It produces an abundance of long-lasting, bright flowers on tall, sturdy stems. It thrives in hot, dry weather but can withstand the wind and heavy rainfall accompanying a sudden tropical storm.

'Landmark Rose Sunrise' lantana and 'Red Butterfly' Asclepias are perfect examples of plants producing clusters of tiny flowers. These hardy, low-upkeep plants are known for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds and thrive in hot, dry conditions. Thanks to those floral clusters, however, they'll bounce back easily after a downpour.

With dense, bush-like foliage, 'Big Blue' salvia is another hardy variety built to withstand extreme conditions brought on by a storm. Similar to the lantana and Asclepias, salvia features tall clusters of small flowers that will quickly bounce back. They're heat- and drought-tolerant plants that are easy to grow and attract pollinators of all kinds.

Not every plant has to feature flowers to provide color. 'Black' elephant ear is a large-leaved tropical accent plant that features leaves of a gorgeous, deep-purple metallic hue. Though it can flower, it's the large leaves that make this plant shine. These plants love heat and are only hardy to U.S. zone 10, but they love water and thrive in humid, hurricane-prone climates.

Choosing tough outdoor plants built to withstand extreme weather conditions can help ensure that you'll enjoy the beauty of your garden no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.

For more tips on helping your plants thrive in all conditions, check out Burpee's guide to protecting your garden.

Written by Shahrzad Warkentin

Shahrzad Warkentin is a writer and seasoned gardener, with over 12 years of experience.  Besides her own home garden, she helps manage her kids' school garden.

November 11, 2021
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