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Perennials Tolerant of Dry Conditions
This article was published originally on 5/22/1998In addition to providing color in the garden, perennials can also be used as solutions to problem spots in the home landscape. Many landscapes have hot, dry sites that are difficult for many perennials. Drought tolerant perennials are the perfect solution for these dry sites. Below is a list of some perennials that, once established in the garden, will tolerate or even thrive in dry conditions.
Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) is a medium-sized perennial that grows approximately 3 to 4 feet tall with a 3 foot spread. This perennial has silver-gray, fern-like foliage and large, flat, yellow blooms in late spring to mid-summer. The blooms can be used for cut and dried flowers. Dried heads will retain color best if the flowers are cut before pollen has developed. Yarrow prefers conditions with full sun and dry soil. Popular cultivars include 'Coronation Gold' which is 3 feet tall and has bright golden flowers and 'Moonshine' which is 2 feet tall and has bright yellow flowers.
Artemisias are a large group of perennials with silvery-gray foliage and a high tolerance to hot, dry conditions. This perennial is grown mainly for its foliage, although some types produce small, ineffective flowers in summer. Artemisias are often used as a filler or as a complement to the pinks, lavenders, blues, yellows, and reds used in the garden. 'Silver King' is a common variety with a height of 2 to 3 feet and a wide, spreading clump form. This variety can be aggressive and needs to be divided every two years. The foliage is excellent for cut and dry usage. 'Silver Mound' is another widely grown variety. It is 12 to 18 inches tall and forms a mound 18 inches in diameter. The foliage is very silky and lacy. This variety is less aggressive and may be used as a border or in rock gardens.
Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) provides a light, finely textured addition to the perennial garden. This perennial blooms late spring through late summer. It grows best in a dry, full sun situation. Coreopsis works well in the perennial garden or naturalized area. 'Moonbeam' has creamy-yellow flowers. The plant is 18 to 24 inches tall with lacy foliage. This cultivar was selected as the 1992 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. 'Zagreb' is another popular variety with bright yellow flowers on a 12-to 18-inch-tall plant.
For a late summer bloom, try Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). The foliage is aromatic, finely dissected, and gray-white in color. This plant has an upright growth habit with a height and spread of 3 to 4 feet. The lavender-blue flowers appear on a spike that extends above the foliage. Russian sage grows well in full sun and well-drained soils. For the best growth and flowers, Russian sage should be cut back to within several inches of the ground in the spring. In addition, Russian sage should be protected for the first couple of winters after planting. This plant can be used as a filler in the perennial garden, and the gray stems provide winter interest. Popular cultivars include 'Blue Spire' and 'Longin'.
Other perennials that are tolerant of dry soils include the following:
Year of Publication:
IC-479(13) -- May 22, 1998