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Sun-Loving & Drought-Tolerant Perennials

Written by Jaime Discon & Mikaela Rice

If you have a sunny dry spot where you just can’t seem to keep anything alive in the hot summer months, try some sun-loving & drought-tolerant perennials! Prior to planting, loosen and amend the soil with organic matter to help with water penetration and retention. The plants listed below will need to get established before being stressed by drought, so take some time during the first few months to fertilize and water the plants thoroughly during dry spells. Mulching after planting will also help with getting these plants established faster.

Echinacea (Coneflower)

We REALLY love this plant! Echinacea is a champion in the summertime, blooming June – October in a rainbow of colors through drought, heat, and high humidity. It will also attract all manner of critters to your yard – the flowers produce seeds for birds and pollinators can’t get enough of it! Echinacea has also been used as an herbal medicine for centuries and makes a wonderful tea.

Euphorbia (Spurge)

Euphorbias are low maintenance plants that are also deer tolerant. Though they only bloom April – June, many varieties are evergreen and will provide you rich color all year-round as their leaves deepen into purples, reds, and oranges come the fall. Euphorbias are a great choice for groundcover on slopes for erosion control and thrive as container plants.


Irises are as varied as they are beautiful and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They are easy to grow, rugged, and reliable. Some types are very fragrant and many rebloom year after year! Though irises are best-known for their delightful blooms April – June, their spiked leaves are also evergreen providing interest throughout the year.

Nepeta (Catmint)

Not to be confused with its cousin catnip (Nepeta cataria), catmint (Nepeta faassenii & mussinii) is an aromatic herb that is often used in herbal teas. This incredibly versatile perennial is easy to grow and deer tolerant. Nepeta gives a spectacular show of deep lavender-blue flowers spikes June – August. To best showcase this plant, consider planting it in rock gardens, borders, or as ground cover for a small area.

Salvia (Meadow Sage)

Salvias are a great choice for summer gardens. They are deer tolerant, easy to grow, produce intense flowers from May – September, and truly love the heat. Salvias come in a variety of colors including reds, pinks, purples, and whites. They are also absolute magnets for hummingbirds so expect a few tiny-winged visitors if you decide to grow some!

Other Plants to Consider:

  • Hemerocallis
  • Lavender
  • Perovskia
  • Rosemary
  • Rudbeckia
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum

Some of these plants are more tolerant then others, so they won’t all have the exact same watering requirements. Try grouping those with similar watering needs together. Reading plant tags, asking nursery employees, and doing a little online research are great ways of improving your success with these plants. Remember, drought-tolerant does not mean the plant can live forever without water!

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