Drought Tolerant Shrubs and Perennials
This is the last in a series of articles about drought resistant plants and xeriscaping from the Mecklenburg County Master Gardeners.
The final two lists of drought tolerant plants include Shrubs and Perennials. A tip when purchasing plants is to always read the label. It contains a wealth of information: mature size, sun/shade/water needs, and garden zone (Mecklenburg County is Zone 7b/8a). Smart planning and planting now will keep your property looking beautiful. Happy gardening!
Good Drought-tolerant North Carolina Shrubs
- New Jersey-Tea (Ceanothus americanus)—small shrub with panicles of small white flowers; deep-purple fruit in fall
- Shrubby St. John’s-Wort (Hypericum prolificum)—compact deciduous shrub with bright yellow flowers
- Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)—fragrant clusters of creamy white flowers; late-season red foliage
- Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)—tall deciduous shrub with glossy green foliage in summer and spectacular color in fall
- Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)—white, bell-like flowers, edible fruit
The Best Drought-Tolerant Perennials
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – 3 feet tall. Tough as nails; blue, lavender, purple, or white flowers in summer. Wonderful fragrance – can be dried and used in crafts and flower arrangements.
- Yarrow (Achillea varieties) – To 4 feet tall. Easy-growing, heat, and drought tolerant. Deer, rabbits and many pests won’t touch it. Varieties bloom in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white.
- Agastache (Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise’) – 4 feet tall. Blooms throughout the summer and autumn. Desert Sunrise has orange blooms with pink and lavender tints. Attracts hummingbirds.
- Sundrops (Oenothera macrocarpa) – 6 inches tall. Cheery yellow blooms spring to early fall. Vigorous perennial takes heat and drought well. Can become aggressive in rich garden soil.
- Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) – To 6 feet tall. One of the toughest plants. Fragrant silvery foliage and plumes of violet-purple blooms.
- Bush Sage (Salvia ‘Raspberry delight’) – To 3 feet tall. Gorgeous raspberry-red flowers from spring to early fall. Very tough, grows well in a range of conditions and attracts hummingbirds.
- Meadow Sage (Salvia ‘May Night’) – To 28 inches tall. Clusters of violet-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Mojave Sage (Salvia pachyphylla) – To 3 feet tall. Beautiful pink blooms with gray-green foliage. Blooms from summer through fall.
- Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrate) – To 1 foot tall. Blooms like crazy from spring to midsummer. Cup-shaped flowers in eye-popping bright shades of pink.
- Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina) – To 18 inches tall. Easy-to-grow ground cover with soft, fuzzy leaves. They can spread aggressively in rich soil.
- Globe Thistle (Echinops ‘Blue Globe’) – To 4 feet tall. Round, metallic-blue flowers through the summer. Easy to grow and are perfect for drying and using in arrangements or crafts.
- Pine-Leaf Penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius) – To 18 inches tall. Masses of bright scarlet-red flowers on this semi-evergreen penstemon. A cinch to grow in any sunny spot.
- Blanket Flower (Gaillardia ‘Kobold’) – To 3 feet tall. A tough prairie plant that blooms all summer into fall. Flamboyant flowers usually marked with bright shades of red and yellow.
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) – To 5 feet tall. Tons of mauve-purple blooms throughout most of the summer. Very attractive to butterflies.
- Sedum (Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’) – To 18 inches tall. Almost all of the hundreds of the sedum varieties available are tough and drought resistant. ‘Frosty Morn” has variegated leaves and clusters of pure pink flowers in autumn.
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