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Low Water, Big Statement: Drought Tolerant Perennials

Many gardeners are looking to conserve water in their gardens. Whether you’re experiencing drought, or are looking for low-maintenance plants for your sunny landscape, drought-tolerant perennials are a great choice. We're all trying to move towards a more sustainable approach to gardening, and drought-tolerant perennials are a big step in the right direction. Conserving water is a definite plus, no matter where you live. Many think of cactus and succulents as drought-tolerant plants, but there are perennial varieties in all shapes, sizes and colors that create a lush, water-wise landscape all season long. Like all plants just getting started, these varieties will need to be watered in their first year to become established in your garden, but after that will thrive mostly on rainwater.

Thyme is an easy-to-grow groundcover that adds gorgeous color to the mid-season garden floor. All parts of the plant are fragrant, and they spread the scent wherever they're planted.

Various members of the large, diverse thyme tribe are used in herb gardens, of course, but also as ornamentals in flower gardens and as ground covers. Its pinkish flowers and signature foliage that is usually grey-green, make it highly decorative. Best of all, the plants require almost no care once they are established. Creeping Thyme Coccineus is one of our favorite flowering groundcovers, growing in full sun or partial shade.

Sedum, also known as Stonecrop, illuminates the late season garden with spectacular color. These succulents have thick leaves that store moisture, which makes them the perfect candidate for full sun and low moisture conditions. Sedum is perfect for low-maintenance landscapes, rock gardens and dry soil. Autumn Joy might be the most famous, its pink blooms bringing color to the fall garden. Whether you’re in California or Vermont, Sedum is a must-have in any perennial garden.

Who doesn’t love the intense scent of Lavender in the garden and dried for use indoors? The best thing about Lavender is that it’s also drought-tolerant, preferring dry soil and full sun. This iconic plant is tough and dependable as long as there isn’t too much moisture in the garden, coming back each year and delighting with spiky blooms in the summer months. Bonus: Lavender is also deer resistant! Lavender Munstead might be our most popular, with highly fragrant blooms that are perfect for drying. If you’re looking for something smaller for containers, Lavender Mini Blue grows to only 10-12” tall.

Penstemon, also known as Beardtongue, is a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial for low-maintenance gardens. This colorful plant grows best in sunny, dry areas, delighting the early season garden with mounds of gorgeous foliage and tall flower spikes in the early summer. Penstemon attracts a bounty of pollinators, including Hummingbirds, and is native to the western United States and Mexico. Penstemon Hot Pink Riding Hood grows to be about 12-24” tall, is deer resistant and makes for gorgeous cut bouquets.

Known for its multicolored, long-lasting blooms, Yarrow is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant perennial for full sun and fast-draining soil. The spectacular foliage is fern-like and deep green, offset by brightly colored blooms in the mid to late summer garden. Also known as Achillea, Yarrow is deer resistant and attracts an abundance of pollinators to the garden in the summer months. Yarrow Summer Berries’ multi-colored blooms are sure to be a conversation-starter in any garden. Yarrow Moonshine’s fragrant, bright-yellow blooms make for spectacular summer bouquets.

Gaillardia, also known as Blanket Flower, has some of the longest-blooming flowers in the garden. This perennial will quickly becoming the backbone of your garden, offering up colorful blooms for months and coming back each year, multiplying. This hardy plant is extremely drought-tolerant and needs almost no maintenance, also attracting pollinators to the garden. Gaillardia Goblin is one of our favorites, blooming all summer for continuous vibrant color.

Every gardener loves Echinacea, and now there are a multitude of colors and shapes to choose from. This drought tolerant perennial is native to the plains and the long-lasting blooms attract birds, butterflies and bees to the garden. Echinacea will grow in almost any garden and makes for excellent cut flowers. A vivid Coneflower with fiery tones of red, orange, and yellow, Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit is a drought-tolerant perennial that ignites the garden from summer to fall.

Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed, is native, easy-to-grow perennial that loves full sun and is deer resistant. With the hybrids available now, Coreopsis is a powerhouse in the summer garden, offering up an abundance of blooms in a multitude of colors. Coreopsis Early Sunrise’s double, yellow flowers add cheerful color to the summer garden, growing to be about 18” tall.

Looking to attract butterflies to your drought tolerant garden? Butterfly Bush, also known as Buddleia, has become a sensation in gardens throughout the United States. This easy-to-grow perennial boasts picture-perfect blooms that emit a certain scent, attracting a multitude of flying insects all season long. Butterfly Bush Black Night’s deep purple blooms create a stunning contrast with its dark green foliage.

Just because you’re looking to conserve water doesn’t mean you need to lose out on color and interest in your garden. And the best part about drought-tolerant plants is that they are also extremely low-maintenance, growing in almost any sunny, dry spot, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of your landscape.

4 thoughts on “Low Water, Big Statement: Drought Tolerant Perennials”

  • Alice Ritter

    Thank you!!!! This article is EXACTLY what I need right now!!! I have a huge space in my front yard I'm filling in and your suggestions are perfect (I didn't think of sedum or thyme)! By the way my order arrived yesterday, and I was blown away by your careful, sturdy packaging...the plants were in great condition!!! I'll send you some pictures once my silver lace vines start climbing up my pergola! AND, I'm adding American Meadows to my resource guys rock!!!! Alice, Ritt's Garden, SC

    • Amanda

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! We're so glad this blog helped you out in planning your garden. We would love to see photos of your pergola once it's blooming! Thanks again.

      Happy Gardening,


  • Bill Nelson

    Received my lily of the valley pips to a very healthy good size clumps. Thank you I think it was worth the shipping and handling charges.

    Bill Nelson
    Hemet CA

    • Amanda

      Hi Bill,

      We're so happy to hear this! Please send along photos once they've established themselves in your garden.

      Happy Gardening,


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