Five easy-care perennials that sip water
Gardeners everywhere should be concerned with water usage, and at no time of year are those concerns more to the fore than they are in the summer. The good news is that many garden standards are quite drought-tolerant once established. (Remember that every plant needs regular watering until it gets acclimated to a new home.) Here are five that prove you need not sacrifice color or bloom to be water-wise.
Yarrow (Achillea species) loves lean soils and full sun, and blooms for most of the summer. Yellow is perhaps the most common color, but it also comes in varying shades of red, orange, pink and white. Hardy in zones 3 to 9.
Garden pinks (Dianthus species) range from low groundcovers to plants of two feet or more. Grass-like glaucous foliage sets off red, pink or white blooms. They bloom over a long season, including the middle of winter in the southern parts of their range. Hardy in zones 3-10.
Perennial geranium (Geranium sanguineum) should not be confused with the annual geranium (really a pelargonium) that is a staple of summer in much of the country. Perennial geranium is one of the longest-blooming perennials around, especially if it is cut back after the first wave of bloom. It is less drouth-tolerant in the southern parts of its range, where it appreciates some afternoon shade. Zones 4 to 8.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species) is a highly adaptable garden plant. The flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies, and birds love the seedheads. Blooms over a long season from summer through fall depending on the species. Zones 3 to 10.
Salvia (Salvia species) exists in annual, biennial and perennial forms, in sizes from diminutive to towering. Most are excellent for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. Zones 4 to 11 depending on species.