Drought Tolerant Perennials
I know we are heading to winter right now, but when it comes to gardening, it is never to early to plan and dream. I want to share a list of some of my favorite drought and heat tolerant perennials. Some of these perennials (plants/flowers that come back year after year – in the correct zone) do actually better under these difficult circumstances, because they are native to drier and hotter conditions. As a bonus they are also low maintenance as well.
Saving water in our landscaping is becoming a necessity. Landscape companies as well as home owners are finding that a successful and low maintenance design in yards, also needs to have drought-tolerant plants. In Utah, we have always had a shortage of water, but the last few years, with not enough rain or snowfall, this has put us in a severe drought. Leaving the State in irrigation restrictions, to certain amount of times per week. Which means drip system has become the most efficient way of watering plants.
There are 100’s of kinds of perennials, and each kind has multiple varieties. Honestly I don’t think I could even try to guess how many varieties there are. Each year they release a new variety, a cross between two plants, or maybe something old but much better. It would be really hard to identify them all. But there are few perennials out there that have become some of the most loved plants ever. At least my favorites. Of course, trying to pick a plant for it’s beauty alone, would be to hard of a task for me. There is no way I could choose beauty alone.
My favorite Flowers
Over the past decade of trying to learn the tricks and maintenance of different plants, I have discovered that most flowers and plants need love, care and time. But some are high maintenance and others are much easier. I have ten perennials that I can highly recommend to anyone who wants beauty, drought tolerance and low maintenance. Although, I have several other perennials that I absolutely love, these are the blooming kind.
I don’t know of any gardener that doesn’t like these beauties. They are low-maintenance, native plants that will grow just about any condition. They will grow in moist or dry ground. Making them ideal for most gardens. Some people grow them for their medicinal properties, but I personally have never done that. I love watching the bees and hummingbirds enjoying the nectar and pollen. They get pretty tall 2-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Making them ideal to plant them behind shorter plants. Honestly it took me couple of years to figure out that Echinacea is also called Coneflower. These pink (now they come in all varieties, yellow, orange, white) flowers bloom usually all Summer until Fall. Like most flowers, if you deadhead them, you will extend the blooming time.
These come in many varieties, but basically same beautiful yellow petals and dark center (black-eye). I prefer the ones that get 2-3 feet tall and wide. They are the same family as the Sunflower, which is why sometimes I feel the taller varieties look like Sunflowers. Easy care and native to North America. Tolerates zone 3-9, making them a desirable plant in gardens. They bloom Summer to Late Fall. Compliments Echinacea beautifully. These plants prefer full sun, although they can handle part shade. Sometimes this perennial will reseed itself, and that’s OK, as long as you keep it to your desired size.
I have a love and hate relationship with the lavender plant. I love them because a garden without at least one of these plants would be deprived for the lavender’s presence. The scent alone and beautiful blue spiky flowers add so much to any garden. The challenge I have had with the lavender is, they are native to the Mediterranean climate. That is good and bad depending where you live. They don’t like getting their “feet” wet. Since we are talking about drought-tolerant plants, obviously that is a good thing. But sometimes not watering them properly can cause them to simply die. Lavender is one plant I have replaced many times. While some people think they are easy, I think they are little bit on the fussier side. But, I can’t live without them. Lavender comes in many varieties, and actually colors too, although not as common. The English varieties are generally more cold tolerant than the French lavender. They generally bloom from June-August, but I have had some of mine bloom all the way to the end of October.
This perennial in my opinion, is one of the easier ones to grow. Requires no deadheading, Grows all Summer into Fall. Handles drought and is deer resistance (it has a special scent, wonder if that’s the reason?). You’ll find this both in pink and purple (bluish). Does great in zone 4-9. It can get up to 5 feet tall, which makes it a beautiful addition and variety.
Armeria or Thrift
This plant is small and compact. Perfect along the walkways, rock beds and borders. Thrift loves the sun and tolerates not only drought conditions but also high salt content. They don’t get taller than a feet and do well in zone 4-8. They grow slow and if you deadhead them, it will encourage second bloom. I have varieties that bloom as early as May and some will continue blooming until late Fall. You’ll find this perennial most commonly in pink and white.
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
This perennial is native to the Rockies. Once established it will grow without any care. Very drought-tolerant. Blanket flower is from the daisy family. It loves sun and can grow up to 3 feet (usually about 18 inches). This flower will come in different varieties and colors. I have really enjoyed my yellow one in my garden. They will bloom all Summer into late Fall. Constant dead heading encourages new blooms and it keeps giving of itself. This flower will do well in zone 3-10, making it one of the easier perennials to grow.
This perennial is native to Europe but does well in almost all zones in the US. It is unique in the sense that, one’s it’s done blooming, the green part of the plant remains green (evergreen). In general it loves full sun. But I have had great success with couple of mine in the shade, probably because of the extreme heat in Utah during the Summers. Unfortunately this beauty is short lived. It blooms in the Spring, which makes it a welcome addition to the Spring garden. Even Though it is evergreen, it is wise to cut it back some in the early Spring or even Late Fall, to avoid the plant to become too woody.
Thyme (Ground cover)
Native to Africa and Europe. This creeping ground cover is beautiful between rocks and stepping stones. Once established it doesn’t require a lot of water. They are really soft to walk on, and my grandkids think it is so much fun to rub their feet on it. The smell it heavenly and it keeps the moisture in the ground, making it an asset to the the other plants around it. Thyme comes in many varieties. The wholly, mother of all thyme and pink thyme are some of my favorite. Depending on the variety, they will grow about up to six inches.
Although Veronica is not considered your typical drought-tolerant perennial, it is one of my favorite and low maintenance plants I have growing in my garden. Veronica also known as speedwell comes in pink or purple bluish. It can grow to be 3 feet tall. They love the sun and will bloom Spring to Summer. It will require some water in the Summer, but my experience has been, that it does not need a whole lot. We have a simple drip system on it just like the rest of our plants. This plant will tolerate zone 3-11.
Is a native American plant. Easy and drought-tolerant. Sometimes it is hard to believe, but there are actually over 100 varieties of Coreopsis, more commonly known as Tickseeds. I have some favorites and other varieties not so much. But usually I keep at least 3 plants in my garden. Coreopsis are very grateful plants. This plant is a zone 4-9, which is perfect for the climate in the Rockies. They only get about 18 inches tall and about the same width. They love the sun and these too, if deadheaded, will keep blooming all Summer long, into Fall. Although they are water-wise, they like regular water, which helps with a drip system, rather than hand watering.
MARIA’S BASIC RULES
Water Regularly (Drip System is the Best way to do that)
Deadhead your spend flowers.
Clean debris and leaves around the plants to avoid disease.
Mulch around your flowers to control moisture.
Enjoy your flowers!!