Top 10 Perennials for Arid Gardens

By Bonnie Grant | September 17, 2016
by Bonnie Grant
September 17, 2016

Perennials are the garden gift that keeps on giving. Not only are they economical, but they are often very tough plants with a wide range of zonal hardiness. Many of them are also spring and summer bloomers that add beautiful color and texture to the landscape. Choosing the right perennials should take into consideration light exposure, size, drought tolerance and soil type. Some of the 10 most outstanding perennials to try in an arid garden are listed below.

1. Coneflower – This is one of my favorite perennials with a variety of tones available and big erect flowers. Coneflowers can grow 18 to 24 inches tall and form clumps over time. They are related to sunflowers and have much of that plant’s cheery charm.

2. YarrowYarrow, with its feathery foliage and dense flowering spikes, gets an A+ for drought tolerance. These plants grow easily in many parts of the garden. Some forms can get invasive but if you are willing to let them sprawl, they will outperform any annual.

3. Lewisia – The evergreen foliage of Lewisia is scalloped and almost succulent but the flowers are what you really wait for. Slender stems rise above the low-growing rosette and produce white to pink and coral small flowers. These are easy to divide and make more of this spectacular drought tolerant plant.

4. Sedum – Succulents are perfect for water challenged gardens. Sedum is an outstanding performer. There are creeping forms and 2-foot tall monsters. The individual rosettes of the creepers add whimsy and are an easy ground cover for rockeries and other spaces. The big boys produce dense rosettes of deep green or variegated foliage. Blooms are long lasting and make interesting fall statements.

5. Lavender – The scent alone will send you seeking a lavender plant for your drought tolerant garden. Beautiful spikes of deep blue to purple blooms are great for drying and making sachets, or picked fresh and used for cooking and adding to iced tea.

6. Blanket FlowerGaillardia is a Mexican native that can grow 2 to 3 feet in height. The daisy-like flowers have several sunset hues throughout the petals. They make an excellent long-lasting cut flowers.

7. Red Hot Poker – As the colorful name suggests, the flowers on this grassy-leaved clumping plant resemble a fiery poker. Rising above the green foliage, the unique flowers of red hot poker are long lasting and ripen from yellow to orange and rust.

8. Ice Plant – These plants have been used to prevent dune erosion in prone areas. They are succulent in nature and produce darling little flowers in a variety of hues. Over time, the ice plant will sprawl to twice its original size.

9. ArtemisiaArtemisia belongs in the daisy family but is more commonly grown for its foliage rather than the small yellow flowers. Foliage is used as a foil for other plants with its silvery gray elegance and lacy leaves.

10. Tickseed – Nothing is more cheery than bright yellow flowers. Coreopsis will bloom all season long with airy foliage framing the sunny yellow blooms. Tickseed is usually trouble free and easy to grow.

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