Disclaimer: The thoughts, view, and opinions expressed are those of the author. This post is intended for entertainment purposes only.
Is It Dead or Alive?
I’ve asked myself this on several occasions while vainly trying to keep certain houseplants alive.
I felt like I had done everything right: watered them, got as much sunlight as I thought they needed, even talked, pleaded, and tried to bargain with plants to keep them alive.
Sometimes it seemed to work but mostly they died.
Succulents, such as aloes, are still a mystery to me and frankly, they intimidate me.
I discovered after some trial and error what works for me.
I prefer plants that sit in water. I have a lily, and a bamboo that I’ve kept alive now for several years. Or plants that I only need to water about once a week, like my pothos.
But even once a week watering is hard to remember, so I recommend water bulbs. Just keep water in the bulb and you are golden.
When You Need A Tougher Plant
I have three plants that I’ve kept alive for years, and sometimes I think I can do more.
But sometimes I would like to have a plant that I wouldn’t need to worry about if I went on an extended vacation.
Introducing Resurrection Plants to the Rescue!
To all you green thumbs out there, I am not advocating for intentional neglect of plants. But some of us struggle, so we would like something that can endure that struggle.
I first heard of the Rose of Jericho a few years ago. It was being advertised and sold around Easter and Mothers day as a pin, or a necklace, I’m not 100% positive which. Just add a bit of water and watch it bloom.
I thought it was a weird trick, so imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a real plant.
Certain resurrection plants have been sold as novelty items for quite some time. In fact several 19th century authors commented on this custom.
But instead of a novelty gift, some of these resurrection plants could make hardy house or yard vegetation. Depending on your environment and availability, of course.
There are several types of drought resistant plants, I’ve selected a few to spotlight and maybe peak your interest.
5 Hardy Plants For The Die Hard Brown Thumb
Anastatica hierochuntica: The Rose of Jerico
Also known as the Flower of St. Mary, the Rose of Jericho is found in arid parts of the Middle East and in Northern Africa, including the Sahara desert.
The Rose of Jericho was named after the biblical town of Jericho which was rebuilt from its ashes.
This plant is not actually a flower, but it does produce small white flowers during the rainy season.
It is a type of tumbleweed as well as a resurrection plant. Because it is a tumbleweed it is able to disperse its seeds over a wide area.
After the rainy season passes and it gets hot and dry this plant will turn brown, drop some leaves and curl into a ball to protect its fruit and seeds.
This is known as aestivation, basically it goes into summertime heat induced hibernation.
Rose of Jericho is able to open and close it’s foliage several times depending on the amount of moisture or water it encounters. Hence, it’s used as a novelty item.
Pleopeltis polypodioides: The Resurrection Fern
Native to the Americas this is a creeping, coarse textured fern. It produces spores that float through the air and attach to large trees like cypress and oak. Though they have been known to attach to dead tree logs as well.
The resurrection fern is able to curl its leaves during a dry spell, losing up to 76% of its water. Though in experiments, it has been able to lose 97% of its water and still live. To compare: most plants die when they lose 8-12% of their water.
That’s my idea of hardy.
It is also known as an air plant, as it derives most of its nutrients from the air and water and only minimal amounts from the surface of its host tree.
When it encounters water in it’s desiccated state it can regain its former liveliness within 24-48 hours.
Ramonda serbica: Serbian Phoenix Flower
Found in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia, it is one of the few European representatives of the family Gesneriaceae.
It is called a resurrection or desiccation plant due to its ability to survive long droughts and revive with water.
This plant can be featured in rock gardens and is hardy enough to survive the most well intended brown thumb.
With attractive purple flowers, the Serbian Phoenix Flower, is a beautiful addition to any garden.
Selaginella lepidophylla: Stone Flower or False Rose of Jericho
Similar in appearance to the Rose of Jericho, it has earned the name False Rose of Jericho, Rose of Jericho, Stone Flower, Dinosaur plant, resurrection moss, and doradilla. For simplicity, I’m going to call it the Stone flower.
Native to the Chihuahuan Desert this plant is well adapted to the arid regions, so definitely a contender for rock gardens if you live in a similar climate.
It too is a tumbleweed.
Like the Rose of Jericho, the Stone Flower will curl itself as it aestivates, protecting its seeds as it rolls about. The seeds are released during the rainy seasons.
It can survive several years of extreme drought, losing up to 95% of its water.
This plant is also a bit of a novelty in that it can continue to imbibe water even after its death, allowing its leaves to curl and uncurl thanks to its unique biology.
Haberlea rhodopensis: Orpheus Flower
Also known as a resurrection flower due to its ability to withstand long periods of desiccation.
Haberlea is the plant, and rhodopensis refers to the lilac colored flower, which has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
They are endemic to parts of Bulgaria and Northern Greece. The flowers are a stemless evergreen perennial preferring north facing rocky habitats.
Another one well suited for rock gardens.
Commonly referred to as the Orpheus Flower which refers to the mythological character of Orpheus who descended into the underworld to bring back his love but ultimately failed.
However unlike Orpheuses tragic tale of love lost, the Orpheus Flower can be revived and enjoyed for many years.
While the resurrection plants or desiccation plants, don’t in reality die and come back to life. Their ability to withstand extreme drought, and in some cases, heat have earned them a place in my brown thumb heart.
I feel like these plants, some of which are strikingly beautiful, would help any aspiring gardner to feel a measure of pride and accomplishment.
And if that’s still too much, you can always buy a Rose of Jericho and enjoy watching it bloom over and over by giving it just a little bit of living water.