Drought-Tolerant Plants Save Work and Water
The drought tolerant category saves work. These plants are also conservationists! They save water by needing less. American gardens are definitely not in the tropics. Many areas have hot, dry spells and drought tolerant plants keep going when you’re busy, go away for the weekend or live in an area where outdoor watering is monitored. Drought-tolerant doesn’t mean “never needs water.” It means you can create a gorgeous garden that will require less water. Plants in this category do well in dry conditions.
Drought-Tolerant Perennials – The Choices are Endless
With so many drought-tolerant plant choices, we’ll describe perennials that generally thrive in a number of zones. Mike at Crystal Lake is a great resource on what is most likely to thrive and delight in our area. A few drought-tolerant plants, such as Achillea (yarrow); Alcea (hollyhocks) and similar Malva, Penstemon and Verbascum come in many shades, including reds, pinks, yellows, purples and white. For great variegated leaves that provide a long show, Euphorbia polychroma (stunning – they glimmer), Ruta graveolens (rue) for delicate elegance, Artemisia in many shades of silver, and Lamium with great bi-colored leaves. They bloom from early spring often into winter with pale to deep rose blooms rather than traditional white. The last two like full sun to part shade, and Lamium prefers a fair bit of shade. Drought-tolerant and dependable reds and oranges include Achillea paprika, Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) Gaillardia (blanket flower.) In dry, sunny spot, Agastache flowers with all the colors of sunset at once and are a stunning addition to any bed. For yellows, you can choose Anthemis (golden marguerite), Aurinia (basket-of-gold) many varieties of Coreopis (tickseed), Helianthemum, Hypericum (St. Johnswort) Santolina, and new varieties of Solidago (goldenrod, which has been found not to kick up allergies – that’s ragweed), including one called Fireworks that looks like Roman candles in your fall garden, and Thermopsis (southern lupine) . Drought-tolerant plants in pink may look delicate, but these are strong: Armeria; Bergenia with lovely leaves that bronze in the fall; a huge selection of perennial geraniums; Echinacea (exploding into reds, whites and more in recent years); Liatris (gayfeather) – great deep-toned spikes; Dianthus in many shades – Bath’s Pink is lovely and provides grass-like gray-green leaves throughout the season; and flowering thymes. Many purple and lavender perennials will withstand drought, including Baptisia, Echinops (looks like Alium), Lavenders, Linaria purpurea (lovely in spite of its common name, toadflax), Limonium, Nepeta, Perovskia, lavender-blue Stokesia (Stokes’ aster), and a huge choice of Salvias in all shades, including deep purple and long-blooming May Night which has entranced gardener since it appeared in the late ’90s. Whites are a bit rare in drought-tolerant plants, but Boltonia (“snowbank” that look like small daisies), Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer), Echinacea and Achillea give you four great height choices. Gaura (butterfly flower) appears to float in delicate white blossoms, some bi-color with pale pink. Have fun meeting a few new drought-tolerant plants this year.