Drought Tolerant Perennials for the Sun

We're entering the heat of summer, which means we should all be looking for drought tolerant perennials.  In North Carolina, it is already HOT and HUMID.  The humidity does not translate to rain, unfortunately.  That doesn't mean the end of a beautiful garden, though.  There are several beautiful perennials that are drought tolerant and easy to care for.  Plant these in your garden this summer.


I love lantana.  Most people have seen the yellow lantana that's a perennial in the south.  Now, though, you can get lantana in lots of colors including white, purple, magenta, orange, red, pink, and multi-colored.  Miss Huff is a perennial cultivar that grows into a small shrub.  The other lantana varieties are annuals, but they grow fast and are worth planting in the garden.

Russian Sage (Perovskia)

This plant blooms in the late summer to early fall.  It looks great when planted together with the yellow lantana. The plant has an upright, spiky growth habit, which is striking in a mixed border design.

Purple Coneflower    (Echinacea purpurea)

All coneflowers are drought tolerant perennials.  They are native prairie wildflowers, subsisting naturally on rain from intermittent thunderstorms in the wild.  Now, you can get orange, red and yellow cultivars to add color to your garden.  Plants will increase in size by forming clumps, and occassionally re-seed.  Butterflies love to sip nectar from coneflowers, so they are a must-have for butterfly gardens.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

There are annual Rudbeckias and perennial varieties.  The perennials can spread aggressively, but they are great for hard to garden areas.  A fun plant for gardens is the giant rudbeckia, Rudbeckia maxima.  This giant gets to be seven or eight feet tall.

Ornamental Grasses

Almost all ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant.  Pannicum, fescues and miscanthus grasses are great drought tolerant perennials.  Check your local nurseries for the best varieties for your area, as some grasses are considered invasive.  A reputable nursery will not sell plants that are invasive to the local area.

Daylilies Hemerocallis

Some people are bored with daylilies.  I am not.  There are so many cultivars and varieties that you could have an entire garden of nothing but daylilies and it would always be beautiful.  Once established, these plants do not need any supplemental water.  Once they stop blooming, you can cut off the flower stalks, and the foliage will remain pretty for the entire summer.


There are many varieties of sedum, some of which grow upright and bloom in the fall.  These fall-blooming perennials are good late summer butterfly plants.  Creeping sedum is ideal for rock gardens and spilling over low retaining walls. All of these perennials are easy to care for and need very little water once they have established good root systems (about eight weeks).  They all grow well in full sun, and bloom at different times of the summer, so your garden will look beautiful for weeks on end.
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