Thursday, March 26, 2015

Drought Tolerant Perennials



Drought Tolerant Perennials

What’s the use of drought tolerant perennials? There are several reasons as to why to incorporate them into the garden. To mention a few: the plants that are considered drought tolerant have key characteristics that help them survive moderate to severe drought; planting or planning a drought tolerant garden will conserve one of our most valuable resources – water; and believe it or not you will have a garden jammed pack with lots of color and action. Several of the plants listed serve more than one purpose in the garden than just being drought tolerant. For example: some plants will deter deer and rabbits; attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden; can be used as herbs for cooking; and lastly used in fresh-cut or dried floral arrangements. And, when you started planning this project of drought tolerant perennials you were thinking dull, drab garden. Right? 

Let me introduce to you drought tolerant gardening that will have lots of color and action. When planning your garden for drought we need to consider a few things such as light, drainage, soil conditions, and watering. Full sun is the best for all the perennials listed below. The general rule of thumb is that an area is considered full sun if that area receives 6 or more hours a day of sunlight. Drainage is essential to the plants. When planning the garden do not plant in an area where water collects after rainy weather because the plants will not tolerate wet feet or soggy conditions. Drought tolerant plants will do better in soils that are not rich in compost. Save these areas for the plants that liked to be pampered. Even though the plant is considered to have drought tolerance the plant needs to be established in the ground and this usually takes a few months to several months for a plant to be established. Below are a few of the plants listed as drought tolerant perennials. I chose these varieties because the plants are more than drought tolerant; the plants will provide color, attract wildlife and will serve as more than one purpose in the garden.

Achillea millefolium – Yarrow: has lacy, fern-like foliage with flat, round blossoms in a range of colors, white, yellow, red, peach, and pink that bloom from summer to fall. Zones: 3-9. Height from 18-36 inches. Spacing: 10-12 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Yarrows tolerate poor soil and can be used in borders, mass plantings, and rock gardens. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden and can be used in fresh or dried arrangements. Periodically deadhead faded flowers.

Agastache spp. – Hummingbird Mint: is a relative of the mints and blooms summer through fall. Zones: 3-9. Height: 24 to 36 inches. Spacing: 18-24 inches apart. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Uses: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. The scented, mint like foliage is used in cooking and potpourri.

Allium spp. – Flowering Onion: blooms from early spring through the fall. Foliage has a mild onion scent that keeps deer and rabbits away from the garden. Zones: 3-9. Height: 12-36 inches. Spacing: 4-6 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, mass plantings, rock gardens.

Anthemis tinctoria – Marguerite Daisy: provides several weeks of daisy-like flowers in the summer. Deer and rabbit resistant plant. Zones: 3-8. Height: 24-30 inches. Spacing: 24 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Beds, borders, and cut flowers.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ – Silver Sage: Fragrant, lacy, silver foliage provides contrast to ornamental grasses, flowers, and foliage. The foliage is used in fresh or dried arrangements, fresh herbal wreaths, and drying for potpourris. Deer and rabbit resistant plant. Zones: 5-9. Height: 2-3 feet. Spacing: 3-4 feet apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Beds and borders.

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed: Deer resistant plant. Attract butterflies to your garden. This plant is a nectar and larval food plant to the Monarch butterfly. Zones: 3-9. Height: 18-24 inches. Spacing: 1-2 feet apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Butterfly gardens and borders.

Callirhoe involucrata – Poppy Mallow, Wine Cups: Attractive lacy foliage with purple flowers with a white eye that makes an excellent ground cover for large areas. Zones: 4-9. Height: 12 inches. Spacing 24-36 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Ground cover, border fronts, cascading over retaining walls, spiller for containers.

Centranthus ruber – Jupiter’s Beard: Excellent fresh cut flower with fragrant foliage. Butterfly attractant, deer and rabbit resistant plant. Companion plant to other perennials in the garden: Lamb’s ear, Artemisia, and Baptisia. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. Zones: 4-9. Height: 24-30 inches. Spacing: 24-30 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Specimen, borders, small group plantings.

Coreopsis spp. – Tickseed: Single or double flowers are excellent for fresh cut arrangements. Attract numerous butterflies to the garden. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. Zones: 3-9. Height: 3 feet or shorter. Spacing: From 1-3 feet apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, edger, or as a ground cover. 

Echinacea purpurea – Coneflower: There are many varieties of coneflower available. They come in a variety of heights, colors, single or double flowers. Any variety you choose will be drought tolerant. Single or double flowers are excellent for fresh cut arrangements. Attract numerous butterflies to the garden. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. Zones: 4-9. Height: 28-36 inches. Spacing: 18-24 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden, perennial, wildflower, mixed or cottage gardens, mass plantings, companion plant to Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susan.

Echinops spp. – Globe Thistle: One of the underused drought tolerant plants and the flowers are good to use in fresh or dried floral arrangements. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. Rabbit and deer are repelled by this plant in the garden, which is another plus to using this plant. Zones: 3-10. Height: 42-46 inches. Spacing: 18-24 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, mixed flower gardens, companion plant to grasses.

Gaillardia grandiflora – Blanket Flower: The flowers are good to use in fresh floral arrangements. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. The flowers attract butterflies to the garden. Rabbit and deer are repelled by this plant in the garden, which is another plus to using this plant. Zones: 3-10. Height: 2-3 feet. Spacing: 1-2 feet. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, cottage gardens, cutting gardens.

Gaura lindheimeri – Whirling Butterflies: The airy flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Trim spent flower heads to extend blooming. Zones: 5-9. Height: 24-36 inches. Spacing: 24-36 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, cutting and perennial gardens. 

Geum triflorum – Prairie Smoke: Red to light pink flowers, but the real attraction to this plant is the airy, feathery seed heads. Zones: 3-8. Height: 12-15 inches. Spacing: 6-8 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Deer resistant, border, ground cover, or rock gardens.

Helianthus maximiliana – Maximilian’s Sunflower: Bright yellow flowers on tall stems will attract butterflies to the garden. Zones: 3-9. Height: 3-10 feet. Spacing: 36 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Show stopper to any garden. Place in the back of the garden. Accent, specimen, fresh cut flower gardens, wildlife gardens, and cottage gardens.

Hemerocallis spp. – Daylily: Daylilies are available in every color except blue. Zones: 3-10. Height: 12 inches to 4 feet depending on variety. Spacing: 6 to 48 inches depending on variety. Light: Full sun. Uses: Beds, borders, and groundcover. Deadhead to achieve re-bloom.

Hymenoxys acaulis – Sundancer Daisy: Bright yellow 1 inch flowers. Zones: 4-9. Height: 12 inches. Spacing: 12-24 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Edger or borders. Flowers attract butterflies.

Lantana camara – Lantana: Lantana plants come in a variety of heights, which can be used as groundcovers to shrubs. The plants provide non-stop color from spring to first frost. Zones: 7-11, outside zone 7 the plant is treated as an annual. Height: 1-5 feet, depending on cultivar. Spacing: 24-48 inches, depending on cultivar. Light: Full sun. Uses: Profuse bloomer until first frost. The low growing varieties can be used as seasonal color or evergreen groundcover, annual, flowering shrub, containers, hanging baskets, beach plantings. The bright flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Lavandula angustifolia – English Lavender: Wonderful fragrant lavender flowers and silver foliage. Zones: 5-9. Height: 18-36 inches. Spacing: 12-18 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Deer and rabbit resistant, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, fragrant flowers and foliage, flowers can be used fresh or dried, containers, border fronts, rock gardens, herb gardens, scented gardens. Deadhead after flowering. 

Linum perenne – Blue Flax: Bright blue flowers cover the plant from late spring to fall. Zones: 3-9. Height: 18-30 inches. Spacing: 10-12 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Very showy flowers for beds and borders. Deer and rabbit resistant. 

Monarda didyma – Bee Balm: Fragrant foliage and flowers will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. The flower color are in shades of pink, red, lavender, and white. Zones: 3-9. Height: 18-36 inches. Spacing: 24-36 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Beds, borders, cut or dried flowers.

Monarda fistulosa – Wild Bergamot: Fragrant foliage and flowers will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. The flower color are in shades of pink/lavender. Zones: 3-9. Height: 18-36 inches. Spacing: 24-36 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Beds, borders, cut or dried flowers.

Nepeta racemosa – Catmint: Fragrant flowers and foliage will attract butterflies to your garden. Zones: 4-9. Height: 18-36 inches depending on variety. Spacing: 18-24 inches depending on variety. Light: Full sun. Uses: Deer and rabbit resistant. Beds and borders. Groundcover.

Nepeta x faassenii – Catmint: Fragrant flowers and foliage will attract butterflies to your garden. Zones: 4-9. Height: 12-24 inches. Spacing: 12-24 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Deer and rabbit resistant. Beds and borders. Groundcover.

Oenothera spp. – Evening Primrose: Masses of flowers that open in the evening and close in the morning. A good groundcover to plant around outdoor entertainment areas, especially nighttime activities. Zones: 4-9. Height: 15 inches. Spacing: 18-24 inches. Light: Full sun. Uses: Groundcover for sunny areas.

Penstemon spp. – Beardtongue: Zones: 4-10. Height: 12-36 inches. Spacing: 18-24 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Mixed perennial garden, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian Sage: Zones: 4-9. Height: 3-5 feet. Spacing: 24-36 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Containers, bed and borders, cut flowers, butterfly attractant.

Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary: Zones: 6-10. Height: 4 feet. Spacing: 3-5 feet apart. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Uses: The leaves are used in lamb and fish dishes, butterfly nectar plant, and containers.

Rudbeckia fulgida – Black Eyed Susan: Zones: 3-10. Height: 18-30 inches. Spacing: 12-24 inches. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Uses: Beds and borders, containers, attract birds and butterflies.

Salvia spp. – Sages: Autumn Sage - Salvia greggii 'Maraschino'. Zones: 7-10.  Height: 3’ – 4’. Spacing: 18” – 24” apart. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Uses: Butterfly and hummingbird attractant, accent, cut flower, herb and perennial garden.  Sage - Salvia officinalis. Height: 3 feet. Spacing: 12 inches apart. Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade. Leaves are used in stuffing and meat dishes.

Sedum spp.: Sedums, Stonecrops: Zones: 3-11. Height: 2-24 inches. Spacing: 4-18 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Containers, slopes, rock gardens, cracks and crevices, butterfly attractant.

Stachys byzantine – Lamb’s Ear: Zones: 3-9. Height: 12-18 inches. Spacing: 10-18 inches apart. Light: Full sun. Uses: Borders, edger, containers, rock garden.

Thymus spp. – Thymes: Lemon Thyme – Thymus x citriodorus. Height: 12 inches. Spacing: 12 inches apart. Light Requirements: Full sun. Light purple flowers in summer. Wonderful Lemon scent when leaves are crushed or walked upon. Additional Uses: All leaves have a distinct lemon flavor that can be used in cooking. Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds to the garden. Summer Thyme – Thymus vulgaris. Height: 6 – 12 inches. Spacing: 6 – 12 inches apart. Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade. Blooms lilac to purple flowers in summer. Additional Uses: All leaves are used in cooking. Attracts butterflies to the garden. All thyme plants can be used as an alternative ground cover.

Veronica spp. – Speedwell or Veronica: Zones: 4-9. Height: 4-12 inches. Spacing: 8-12 inches apart. Light: Full sun to partial shade. Uses: Ground cover, borders, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.



©Cheryl Ann Meola 2015.


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