Last summer we planted portulacas on a cemetery plot. Unfortunately, critters ate and pulled out the blooms. The cemetery requires annuals only. Could you suggest some other flowers we could use that are critter proof and will do well in full sun and with limited watering.
Moss roses (Portulaca) are drought tolerant since they have a taproot as well as surface roots, and their leaves and stems are able to store water. This drought tolerance makes them desirable to animals that are looking for a drink during a dry spell. Your moss roses were probably a tasty treat for the critters that helped themselves to them. A cemetery is a safe environment for animals that are nocturnal eaters, such as rabbits. The moss roses were a good choice for a cemetery if not for those pesky critters. There are some traits that may make plants less desirable to rabbits and deer, and those include strong odors and fuzzy leaves.
An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in one season and, unlike perennials that can become drought tolerant after they are established, annuals do not have enough time for that process to occur. It is important to choose healthy plants from a reputable garden center so that you know they have been consistently watered and have a strong start. Plants that have been allowed to dry out while in pots or flats have been stressed and do not have the best chance of survival. Choose a disease-resistant variety and plant after all danger of frost has passed. Add some organic matter such as compost or manure to the soil when you are planting. Space your plants properly according to directions to allow air circulation around the plants to help prevent disease. Consistent watering is important for the first month. If Mother Nature doesn’t provide it, you may want to. Deadheading spent blooms, if necessary, and fertilizing according to plant needs will keep them producing blooms throughout the season.
Some choices to consider that are drought-tolerant, like full sun, and may be less desirable to critters include: marigolds, pot marigolds (Calendula), celosia, cleome (there are some dwarf varieties that would be well suited to your site), cosmos, dusty miller, zinnia ‘Profusion,’ ageratum, wax begonia, and globe amaranth.
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