In my neck of the woods precipitation comes one of two ways; either all at once or not at all. Spring sees ample showers, but as soon as the calendar turns to June the rain dries up. Unless there is an unusual weather pattern in play I can count on Arkansas’ summers to be hot and dry.
Rather than rely 100 percent on irrigation to carry the garden through, I choose drought tolerant plants that I know will survive extended periods without rain. By selecting the right plants for my dry climate I use less water and I don’t have to work as hard to keep the garden looking good during the dog days of summer.
To make things even easier I use a lot of drought tolerant perennials. Perennials will come back year after year without replanting and most are pretty low maintenance. Throw in drought tolerance and you’ve got something you can pretty much plant and forget.
Unlike annuals, many perennials bloom for a specific amount of time. Gardeners can create season-long interest by selecting spring, summer and fall flowering perennials and showy foliage plants.
Here’s a short list of drought tolerant perennials categorized by season.
Spring Flowering Drought Tolerant Perennials
Perennial Salvia (Salvia nemerosa)
Salvia is lovely when planted in drifts and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and it will add vivid blue color to your containers or garden. The flower spikes sit atop mounded, aromatic foliage.
Zones 3 – 8; full sun; 22 to 24 inches tall with a 20- to 24-inch spread
Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)
Lamium is a low growing groundcover for either sun or shade. This vigorous plant is also deer resistant and can be found in a varieties of colors, including pink, purple and white.
Zones 4 – 8; full sun or shade; 8 – 12 inches tall with a 24-inch spread
False Indigo (Baptisia hybrid)
Baptisia is a North American native plant that produces sweetpea-like blooms that can be found in many colors, including blue, yellow, purple and white. Baptisia also attracts pollinators.
Zones 4 – 9; full sun to partial shade; 30 – 26 inches tall
Summer Flowering Drought Tolerant Perennials
Evening Primrose (Oenothera)
Oenothera has a loose, wildflower appearance that makes it right at home in cottage-style gardens. It is both drought tolerant and adaptable to poor soils.
Zones 5 – 11, full sun; 8 – 12 inches tall
Perennial Sunflower (Heliopsis)
The bright yellow, daisy-like flowers of this North American native plant brighten the garden. This is another great addition to pollinator gardens.
Zones 3 – 9; full sun to partial shade; 12 – 20 inches tall
Butterfly Flower (Gaura lindheimeri)
This is one of my favorite “see through” plants. I like to position Gaura in the middle of a flower border so that the loose stems create a veil through which the background plants are seen. This creates a little mystery and added dimension.
Zones 6 – 11; full sun; 12 – 24 inches tall
Good to Know
Even drought tolerant plants need water just after planting, water your newly planted drought tolerant perennials weekly the first growing season.
To learn more about drought tolerant plants, check out the video below!