Five easy-care perennials that sip water

Douglas Hunt
by Douglas Hunt
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.
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
4 of 34 comments
  • Charlotte Kent Charlotte Kent on Jun 28, 2014
    Would these need to be put out in the spring to survive that first summer?

    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 28, 2014
      @Charlotte Kent Not at all, as long as you are vigilant about keeping them well-watered until they get established.

  • Charlotte Kent Charlotte Kent on Jun 28, 2014
    Thank you for the answer. I now have a week off work. If I can find locally any of these, I can get them in the ground..already have Salvia. Now that is my kind of plant. If these others are that self sufficient, whoopee!