Are you tired of seeing your once-beautiful garden wilt when dry spells hit? Then you need to look for low water plants!
With the right plant choices and water-saving practices, you can sustain your garden even during the hottest and driest months. This is really handy when you go away on vacation, too!
With so many drought-friendly plant options available, you can design an entire garden that is both beautiful and drought-tolerant.
So, let’s explore the world of xeriscaping and you’ll discover how to keep your garden thriving even in the toughest conditions.
Read more about what to plant and water-saving garden techniques in this article, below.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about the best low water plants, including;
- Keep your Garden Blooming in Dry Spells
- Perennials for Sun
- Perennials for Shade
- Lasting Color with Annuals
- Trees and Shrubs
- Succulent and Cacti
- Tips for Preserving Water
- Final Thoughts on Low Water Plants
- Next Steps
Keep your Garden Blooming in Dry Spells
The savvy gardener keeps a blooming garden despite dry spells and watering bans and does it without breaking the law.
The secret is planning for drought with low water plants.
Water-saving practices sustain gardens through periods of drought during the growing season. They can also prepare your garden for times when you’ll be traveling.
These measures you can take to avoid a limp and flowerless garden during dry spells are part of a design technique called xeriscaping, which is based on the Greek word xeros or “dry”.
Just as some plants prefer sun and others prefer shade, they also have varying water needs.
To sustain your garden during a dry spell, begin by including those perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees that are more likely to withstand heat and drought.
The variety of choices below will make it easy for you design an entire garden providing for drought tolerance!
Perennials for Sun
Many drought-tolerant perennials are well suited for sunny locations.
Yarrow (Achillea species) has flat flower heads on 2 to 3- foot stems and ferny foliage. The flower heads are comprised of many tiny flowers, and are available in bright shades of yellow, gold, white, pink, and red.
2. Blanket Flower
Another drought tolerant perennial for sun is Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora). It has multi-colored daisy-like blooms and thrives upon neglect.
A single blossom is quite colorful, having concentric bands of color in combinations of red, yellow, orange, and maroon, depending on variety. This is a great choice of low water plants to incorporate into your garden!
3. Russian Sage
Russian sage (Perovskia) grows 3 to 5 feet tall, and has long branching sprays of tiny blue flowers. Its airy, gray- green foliage adds to its visual appeal.
Tickseed (Coreopsis) has the benefit of a prolific 3-month bloom. In addition to being drought tolerant, the “Moonbeam” variety (Coreopsis reticulata) bears a 1-inch, butter yellow, daisy-like flower on 1 1/2 foot stems.
If you prefer a bolder color, the bright flowers of “Sunburst” (Coreopsis grandiflora) are fluffy, gold and fringed.
Daylilies (Hamerocallis) adapt to almost any situation. They bloom with multiple 2 to 8 inch trumpet-like flowers, which open in succession each day. That’s how they get their name.
Daylily varieties are available in every color, except pure white and blue and range from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet tall.
And finally, Creeping Sedum (Sedum kamtschaticum) is a succulent groundcover with bright yellow star-shaped flowers, which blooms in June.
Perennials for Shade | Low Water Plants
Shady spots present more of a challenge during dry spells. One trick is to look to ground covers, which provide the staying power to keep the garden interesting.
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) produces many 6-inch spiky flowers in mid to late spring that emerge from scalloped oblong foliage.
This evergreen ground cover spreads by runner to create a dense mat of foliage that turns shades of burgundy in fall. (In fact, it may run right into your lawn!)
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majolis) perfumes the air in spring, and despite the delicately nodding flower stems, is surprisingly tough.
This is another ground cover that can spread too vigorously in some cases, so you’ll want to keep it in check.
Though typically white, you’ll also find soft pink varieties of this beauty, such as “Rosea”.
Heartleaf Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia) has broad, shiny evergreen leaves, and sports 1/2-inch white or pink bell-shaped flowers along 2-foot stalks in late spring.
It’s a great addition to any shade garden.
Creeping Myrtle (Vinca minor) also does well in dry shade. Glossy, forest green, almond shaped foliage blossoms in 1-inch, 5- petaled flowers in blue or white. It’s a lovely show.
But do be careful — it can takeover and you may have a hard to eradicating this plant from your garden.
Lasting Color with Annuals
You can complement the transient blooms of perennials in your garden with lasting color through drought-tolerant annual flowers.
Here are a few good low water plants that are annuals you might choose.
11. Moss Rose
Moss rose (Portulaca) has needle-like foliage and produces a carpet of 1-inch rosettes in white, yellow, pink, red, and a magenta.
Alternatively, try a border of Annual Dianthus, with gray green foliage and brilliant 1-inch fringed flowers in shades of white, pink, and red.
Trees and Shrubs
Drought tolerant trees and shrubs add structural interest to the garden. When you incorporate them into your garden, they will thrive even during drought. However, it’s important that they receive plenty of water during their first year so they are well-established.
Here are some reliable options that are also low water plants.
12. Smoke Tree
The Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria) displays puffs of burgundy “smoke” that adds texture in the form of fuzzy hairs from fading flowers. It also piques seasonal interest with striking yellow and orange-red foliage in Autumn.
Scarlet firethorn (Pyracantha cochinay) grows to 15 feet and has a profusion of small white flowers in spring followed by brilliant pea-sized, orange-red berries. It’s a great color pop in the garden
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortnei) is an evergreen with stiff, sometimes variegated, almond-shaped 1-inch leaves on woody branches. Varieties range and stature from a groundcover to a shrub.
15. Succulents and Cacti
Nearly all types of succulent plants and cacti will do well during dry spells. In fact, many will bloom during especially dry periods.
If you live in a hot and arid area, you can look to just about any variety of these low water plants.
Those particularly suited to the northeastern US include some agave, delosperma, sedum, sempervivum, orostachys, rosularia.
Eastern Prickly Pear (opuntia humifusa) is the only cactus that can withstand New England winters — and it’s native!
Tips for Preserving Water
In keeping with the concept of water-saving measures, you’ll want to make good use of the water you use. That means collecting, efficiently distributing, and conserving it.
You can use rain barrels to collect rainwater from downspouts. Although any container will suffice, many containers sold as rain barrels have built-in spigots to provide easy dispensing of water.
Use forms of drip irrigation to distribute water and prevent water loss through runoff and evaporation as often happens with overhead watering.
A soaker hose is one form of drip irrigation that has tiny holes along its length to slowly deliver water to flower beds. It allows water to penetrate deeply, providing a thorough drink to plant roots.
Even more efficient are emitter systems, in which lengths of thin tubing are fed from a hose directly into the base of plants.
Some emitter systems are even equipped with timers and allow the delivery of fertilizers through the system. This is perfect if you will be away for an extended period of time.
To conserve moisture, cover garden beds and the irrigation hoses with 2 to 3 inches of mulch.
This helps to prevent water loss through the harsh elements of sun and wind during periods of drought.
Final Thoughts on Low Water Plants
When filling your garden with beautiful plants, always keep their water needs in mind. And while you’re at it, consider these lawn alternatives in drought to keep your yard looking it’s best.
Whether you design an entire theme garden or simply have hopes of something in bloom during dry spells, think forward to the dog days of summer. There may be periods of little rain, or times when you’ll be away from your gardening chores.
By planning ahead, you can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy your garden while it continues to thrive, either way.
For more helpful tips about gardening as a hobby, read the articles below, next:
- Easy Native Plants That Will Thrive in Your Garden While You’re Away
- Why Plant These Drought Resistant Perennials? (Especially If You Travel!)
- The Top 7 Hardiest Succulents (That Are Absolutely Gorgeous, Too)!
- Easy Garden Makeover Will Transform Your Garden (3 Simple Steps!)
- Best Inspirational Garden Quotes To Make You Think
- How to Clean Out A Flower Bed and Revive A Neglected Garden
- Top 5 Easy Gardening Tips: How to Prepare Garden for Spring Planting
- The Most Common Spring Gardening Mistakes And How to Easily Avoid Them
- What to Wear When Gardening? Best Garden Clothes That Look and Feel Awesome!
- What Are the Best Fall and Winter Plants for the Garden?
- 31 Pet Safe Plant Choices with Pet-Friendly Tips for Your Yard
- Cat Safe Succulents: Why You Should Choose These Plants for Your Home
A modified version of this article first appeared in The Country Gazette as “Keep Your Garden Blooming in Dry Spells” by Jackie Gately.