As the summer sun blazes across our gardens, parching the earth and testing the resilience of our plants, water-wise gardening has become a necessity.
This is especially true in regions where water is a precious and sometimes scarce commodity.
In this context, selecting the right flora can make all the difference between a flourishing, vibrant garden and a wilted, lifeless landscape.
Knowing before-hand what plants will thrive in areas prone to droughts, will save you much misery when there’s lack of rainfall.
These aren't just drought-tolerant perennials; they are garden warriors, blooming unyieldingly throughout the summer, adding color, beauty, and joy to your green spaces.
While water is crucial for growing a lot of plants, many drought-tolerant perennials can withstand long bouts of dryness. Here are 15 of the most hardy of them all.
1. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
The blanket flowers are daisy-like and have no special needs. They like their surroundings to be sandy and covered with dry soil.
All they need is an area with sunlight and very little amounts of water occasionally.
Gaillardias are suitable to be grown in cold and warm climates both. From the period of early summers to early fall, yellow, orange, deep red, or peach colored petals are formed.
Sometimes the petals form in various combinations of the above colors.
Having trouble with your blanket flowers? Read here: Why Are My Blanket Flowers Dying?
Achillea millefolium, commonly called yarrow is known to have many healing properties. It is an aromatic herb that requires sunlight and well-draining loamy soil.
It has small flowers that are well packed and requires minimum maintenance and is suitable to be grown in rock gardens, borders, and wildflower meadows.
If you're having problems with your yarrow plant, read here: Why Is My Yarrow Dying [And What To Do]?
3. Red Valerian
Centranthus ruber, commonly called red valerian or kiss-me-quick is usually woody at the base.
This plant prefers extreme sunlight and doesn’t need proper soil conditions as well.
After being established, the plant needs minimum care and occasional water spells.
It is known for its ornamental flowers that are usually of a purplish red or a brick-red color.
The blossoms can also be of a deep crimson, pink, white or lavender color. These are pollinated by both, bees and butterflies, therefore red valerian makes up for an amazing border plant.
4. Brown Betty
Rudbeckia hirta, commonly known as brown betty or black-eyed Susan is a self-seeding plant.
Although it is a drought-tolerant plant, it prefers a neutral pH level and extreme to moderate sunlight.
It is used for medicinal purposes as an herb in a few tribal nations and some people believe that Brown Betty naturally cure infections, flu, swelling, and colds.
Some parts of the plant are known to be nutritious while other parts are not edible. The blossoms are of a rich black and gold color.
5. Adria Bellflower
Campanula portenschlagiana, commonly known as adria bellflower or wall bellflower, is a mound-forming, vigorous, and a low-growing plant.
Although being drought-tolerant, it might need occasional watering. The blossoms are of a deep blue, deep purple or a bluish-purple color.
The flowers of this plant are capable of self-pollinating but may be pollinated by butterflies, bees, beetles, and flies.
The leaves of the Adria bellflower usually remain green all through winters. They turn brown only during the spring when they’re replaced by new growing leaves and should be discarded.
Portulaca, also known as moss rose, is the type genus of the flowering plant family Portulacaceae.
It's noted as a perennial only in zones 10B through 11 but pretty enough to be worth a mention on this list.
It has long, luscious leaves and due to them, it can survive for a long period of time without water. This perennial plant does well in soil that is poor, dry, and sandy.
The blossoms of portulaca are red, yellow, cream, pink, orange, deep lavender, and white.
The plant seeds and spreads by itself, therefore, needs to be controlled to avoid crop in unwanted areas. Butterflies are greatly attracted by the eye-catching look of the flowers.
Here are more insights on growing Portulaca plants: Does Portulaca Come Back Every Year?
7. Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly known as Russian sage, is a tough and drought-tolerant plant.
This perennial needs sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive. It has square stems and leaves that have a grayish green color. The leaves release a distinct odor when crushed.
The foliage of this plant is silvery gray and its blossoms are of a beautiful lavender color or a blue to violet color.
8. Kniphofia (Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia, commonly known as torch lily or red hot poker, are very easy to grow. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil to grow. Once established, they require minimum care.
Torch lilies plants have larger flowers if they are occasionally watered, especially during dry times but will manage without as well, making them drought-resistant.
They produce spikes of tall, vibrant colored flowers. The shades vary from red, yellow, and orange to bicolor. The copious nectar that the blossoms produce attracts sunbirds and bees.
Salvia is a perennial that is the largest genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and drought-resistant.
This plant is known to grow well in dry, hot conditions. The flowers of this plant are blue, white, red or lavender.
It comes in various varieties of shapes, colors, and fragrances, most of them grow about 18 to 36 inches tall. Some say this plant has natural healing properties as well!
Lavundula, commonly known as lavender, is an aromatic herb and one of the most well-loved drought-tolerant perennials. This plant fits perfectly in this list as it is known as an herb that absolutely cannot tolerate excess water.
The blooms may be blue, lilac, violet, blackish purple or yellowish. The lavender color is actually named after this plant as the blooms are sometimes of that color.
Most of the species of lavender leaves are covered in hairs that are fine and contain essential oils.
Here's how to grow healthy lavender plants indoors: Lavender In Planters: Complete Guide To Care
11. Shasta Daisy
Leucanthemum × superbum, commonly called Shasta daisy, is a short-lived perennial. These plants like to grow in soil that is both fertile and well-drained.
They produce flowers that look like daisies, with white petals surrounding a yellow center. These flowers grow on a type of plant that comes back year after year and is called an herbaceous perennial.
Some might find the distinct odor of this plant unpleasant.
12. Globe Thistle
Echinops, commonly called globe thistles, are drought-tolerant and require minimum maintenance.
They have spiny leaves and white or blue flower heads that are spherical in shape.
These plants can self-seed but should the process of growing them should be started from cultivated seed.
Using collected seeds to grow them can be a difficult task. The blooms of this plant are of gorgeous blue and violet colors. (They vary depending on their variety)
Coreopsis verticillata, commonly known as whorled-tickseed or thread leaf coreopsis, is a North American species. The ray and disc florets both of the flower heads are bright yellow.
The plant is suitable for dry, thin woods and open pinelands. It can manage with complete exposure to the sun, poor soil, extreme exposure to heat.
If that's not enough, it grows about 2 to 3 ft tall and about 2 ft wide. In other words, if you're looking for a large wild plant, this could be a good choice.
14. Rock Soapworts
Saponaria, commonly called rock soapwort or tumbling Red, belongs to the family.
This plant grows well on neglect, it doesn’t require any fertilizers, and it thrives in poor soil and in areas with drought-like conditions.
Also known to be used to make soap, this plant is a self-seeder and grows about 1 to 3 inches tall. They have a light fragrance.
The blooms of this plant are pale purple or white that emerge in mid-summer and usually last till the fall.
Last but not least, cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae.
Cacti or cactuses do not need much water and maintenance to grow, and most of them thrive in extremely dry environments.
When these plants don’t get enough water supplies, they shrink and make use of the reserved water.
So there you have it, the most drought-tolerant perennials you can try planting. Again, here's an overview of the list:
- Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
- Red Valerian
- Brown Betty
- Adria Bellflower
- Russian Sage
- Kniphofia (Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker)
- Shasta Daisy
- Globe Thistle
- Whorled Tickseed
- Rock Soapworts
With these 15 drought-tolerant perennials, you won’t have to compromise color and your garden will be able to withstand long dry periods.
Thank you for reading and happy planting!
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