Concerns about water usage and the desire to create low-maintenance landscapes is encouraging more homeowners to find plants that look beautiful without taking up a lot of resources. You may think of cacti and other prickly things when you think "drought-resistant," but the variety of low-water plants includes many colorful and interesting options. We've chosen four that are not only suited for minimal care, they are also a good fit for most growing zones.
The beautiful Coneflower is an excellent choice for perennial gardens where tall, showy flowers are desired. Cultivars can reach from 1 to 8 feet tall and bear daisy-like flowers in luscious shades of purple, pink, orange, yellow and white. Flowers bloom most profusely in summer but can extend well into the fall. Once established, Coneflowers are both drought tolerant and deer resistant.
Salvia-Annual, all zones
Salvia is one annual that's worth its weight in any drought-tolerant garden. Blossoms growing on tall spikes may be a riotous red or deep shades of purple or purest white, depending on the variety-and there are many to choose from! Combine cultivars to create color interest and attract garden wildlife. Salvias are easy to grow, they range from 8 to 30 inches tall and bloom heavily through summer heat.
Lantana camara is a low-growing perennial that adds appeal to every garden. Clustered blossoms come in a rainbow of bright colors. Lantana blooms from spring through fall. It is especially helpful for erosion control as it will thrive happily on sunbaked slopes. The scent of Lantana blossoms is somewhat medicinal and can be off-putting to humans, but birds and other small wildlife are attracted to it. Lantana stays low to the ground, growing in a mound that can reach up to 4 feet across and about 6 inches high.
Known as Catnip or Catmint, Nepeta x faassenii is a lesser known aromatic plant we'd love to see more of. It's perfect in rock gardens and grows happily in containers. Catmint will bring bees and butterflies into the garden, and its long blooming season-from late spring until it turn cold in the fall-provides a bright spot when other blooms have faded. Flowers can be pink, white or a variety of familiar shades of lavender-blue. With its gray, lacy foliage, Catmint looks similar to English Lavender (another drought-tolerant plant) and is often grown as an alternative to lavender. This hardy perennial reaches up to 3 feet wide and tall and is also deer resistant.
No article about drought-tolerant gardening would be complete without the mention of hardy herbs. Rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, Artemisia, mint and oregano are just a few herbal varieties that are well-suited to low-water gardening once established. For a drought-tolerant landscape with layers of visual interest, consider using hardy herbs as the "backbone" of your garden with some of the blooming varieties we've suggested to add color and depth.
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