Needless to say, drought and water conservation go hand-in-hand. Ripping up one’s turf may serve as a quick fix, but it’s better to be proactive and design landscapes that are appropriate for areas prone to water shortages.
If your client wants to use drought-tolerant plants, it’s important to let them know such tolerance takes time: These plants need frequent watering during their first season; only then can they survive on occasional watering.
Also, with respect to plant selection, make sure they understand they’re not just stuck with succulents and cactuses covering their yards. Here are some drought-tolerant perennials that can give landscapes color year after year at different times of the season.
Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)
This perennial has spikes of small purple-blue flowers that stand above its clover-like foliage. False indigo blooms late spring to early summer. It can be used to fill in borders or to create a sea of blue with mass plantings. It is a great cut flower and resistant to rabbits. Grows 4 feet tall and wide.
Moonshine yarrow (Achillea x ‘Moonshine’)
Brilliant yellow clusters of upright flowers can brighten up any part of the garden in the summer. It can be used for borders and mass plantings. It is fragrant and is another good cutting garden choice. The foliage grows 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. Flowers grow 24 inches tall.
Miss Huff hardy lantana (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’)
A particularly durable lantana, ‘Miss Huff’ features tropical orange and pink flowers from spring to frost. It can grace container gardens or hillside plantings. It is a fast-growing plant that attracts both birds and butterflies. Grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide.
Santa Ana Cardinal coral bells (Heuchera ‘Santa Ana Cardinal’)
An easy-care variation of the popular heuchera, ‘Santa Ana Cardinal’ works well in woodland gardens and other dry, partially shaded spots. In the spring and summer, its dazzling red flowers contrast well with its green foliage. It forms compact mounds of foliage and attracts hummingbirds. Grows 1 to 2 feet high and 2 feet wide.
Lil Miss Sunshine bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Janice’ PPAF)
This cross between Petit Bleu and Sunshine Blue offers periwinkle petals from late summer into fall and has glossy yellow leaves. ‘Lil Miss Sunshine’ is a compact plant that works well in containers and requires very little care. It attracts butterflies and is resistant to deer. Grows 30 to 36 inches tall and wide.
Desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
A native to the Southwest, this plant is also known as globe mallow. It features gray-green leaves and when it blooms it has small hollyhock shaped flowers that can be orange, pink, red or white. It attracts hummingbirds and can bloom almost year-round in mild climates. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.
Acapulco Trio hummingbird mint (Agastache hybrid ‘Acapulco Trio’)
A showy, multicolored plant that looks as tropical as its names sounds. It has a mixture of pink, orange and red tubular flowers that draws in butterflies and hummingbirds from summer to fall. It thrives in containers and sun-soaked beds and borders. Deer resistant. Grows 20 to 24 inches tall and 15 to 20 inches wide.
Autumn Circus German bearded iris (Iris gemanica ‘Autumn Circus’)
A beautiful reblooming addition to any garden, this bearded iris features white petals edged in a vivid purple that also lines some of the veins. It blooms in the late spring and again in the fall. It works well in cutting gardens, or cottage style landscapes. Attracts hummingbirds. Grows 34 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide.
Gold Nugget tickseed (Coreopsis ‘Gold Nugget’ P.P.A.F. PVR)
A plant with long-season blooms from late spring to early fall, tickseed offers golden flowers similar to daisies with red centers. It is an easy-care plant and can work well in a container, border or butterfly garden. Grows 30 inches high and 24 inches wide.
Big Ears lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine ‘Big Ears’)
Ideal for groundcover, lamb’s ear features soft, silver green foliage that is texturally enticing. During the summer it forms pink-purple spikes, but flowering stems are rare in this cultivar. It is fast-growing and works well for containers and edging. Grows 6 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide.