The incredible late-summer heat coupled with increasing water prices has many of us thinking about gardening with plants that can thrive on minimal amounts of water.
In addition to conserving water, drought tolerant gardens are fantastically low-maintenance so you can enjoy the benefits of a beautiful garden without struggling to keep it looking fresh in the August heat.
This combination provides all the benefits of a drought tolerant landscape while providing long blooming colorful perennials that will keep your garden looking fresh into the fall.
All three of the plant selections have the added benefit of attracting bees, butterflies, and birds making this design an even more sustainable landscape. Perovskia adds airy, cool color to the garden in mid-late summer and its silvery stems and seed heads provide interest into the winter.
Echinacea gives the landscape a continuous splash of color after many summer blooming flowers have finished and their seed heads provide food for goldfinches in the fall and juncos through the winter. Kent beauty’s delicate, eye-catching foliage fills the base level of the garden with cascading color, drawing bees from early spring until fall with its non-stop blooms.
Featured Drought-Tolerant Plants
Perovskia: Russian Sage
Commonly called Russian Sage for its finely cut, blue-grey sage scented foliage, Perovskia is a perfect way to add height and movement to a drought tolerant design.
It grows 3-4 feet tall and bears long, delicate panicles of lavender-blue flowers that become increasingly vibrant as they open.
Perovskia blooms from July through September and its silver wooly stems provide nice winter interest. It is extremely tolerant of heat and drought and prefers poor soil, making it very easy to grow and maintain.
Bees love Perovskia and it will surely draw plenty of them to the garden adding a vital pollinator to your sustainable landscape.
Echinacea ‘Now Cheesier’
Echinacea is one of the best ways to add long lasting color to a drought tolerant landscape.
Its beautiful daisy-like flowers come in a wide range of colors and bloom from July into October with minimal deadheading.
Left on, the seedheads provide food through the fall and winter months for goldfinches and juncos.
Echinacea will draw bees and butterflies to the garden all summer long.
With cheerful deep orange-yellow blooms surrounding a prominent orange-green cone, Echinacea ‘Now Cheesier’ adds spectacular display of color to the design.
Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’
A very intriguing form of Oregano, ‘Kent Beauty’ forms a low trailing mound of powdery blue-green foliage.
Summer through fall it bears drooping heads of hop-like flowers that seamlessly flow from shades of green and cream to pink, fading into mauve flowers held by papery dark rose bracts.
This plant does an excellent job of keeping the base level of the garden looking full.
‘Kent beauty’ has a wonderfully long bloom time beginning in late-spring and stretching into fall, providing nectar for bees nearly all season long!
There are a few varieties of Perovskia to choose from and any can be substituted into this design. ‘Little Spire’ is a particularly good substitution if you are looking for a more compact plant. Lavender has a very similar look with it’s long fragrant purple spikes and would work nicely in this design.
There are lots of beautiful, brightly colored Echinacea varieties to choose from and any would work well in this design. The traditional ‘Magnus’ would do a great job of picking up the subtle pinks in the Kent Beauty and create a softer look. Achillea, Agastache, and Penstemon are also great drought tolerant choices that could easily be substitutes for Echinacea.
There is no plant quite like Kent Beauty, however Fescue ‘Elijah blue’ has cool blue foliage that would work nicely with the design and is low growing, sun loving, and drought tolerant.
Care & Maintenance:
The plants in this design, and their substitutions, love full sun and excellent drainage. Drainage is a key component in creating a happy drought tolerant garden that will survive the wet winter so adding compost before planting is recommended. All three plant choices prefer average to poor soil fertility and over fertilizing can cause leggy plants whose blooms will likely need to be staked.
Remember that drought tolerant plants still need water sometimes, especially when they are getting established in a new garden. Watering more frequently in the first few weeks will ensure stronger, healthier plants.