Drought tolerant perennials

Hello Gardeners!

It’s been quite dry here in Annapolis for several weeks now, and many plants are suffering—especially the ones that are further than my hose can reach. Supplemental watering can certainly help, but what else can be done?

Definitely one key way to beat the drought is with good plant selection.

So to cut right to the point, I’m going to share my list of favorite native, drought tolerant perennials with you here. You can download and print this list from that link (It's free! Eight pages, and great information). Here are a few highlights from that list:

Aster laevis, Smooth blue aster.As I stalk the back yard with the hose, I see only a few plants that look as though they’re just fine even in this drought. One surprise to me has been Smooth Blue Aster. While many other plants in my woodland meadow have leaves wilting downward or even turning their brown toes up in the air, Smooth Blue Aster looks like it’s having no thirst at all. In the backyard I have the straight species, in the front yard I have a common cultivar called ‘Bluebird,’ and both seem oblivious to the drought and quite lovely in bloom right now. Attractive to many of the smaller butterflies.

Carex blanda, White-tinged sedge. Without a doubt this is my most successful sedge for dry, sandy shade. I love the texture it lends to the edge of a bed. I have experimented with several sedges here, and this is one that I will certainly add more of.

Amsonia tabernamontanae ‘Blue Ice’.This dwarf version is just as deer and drought resistant as the 4-6’ species, but at 12” and with 6 full weeks of blue bloom, it is cutely adapted to smaller gardens. In a few weeks it will even offer some nice, red-gold, fall leaf color—a nice plus for a perennial.

Dropteris marginalis, Marginal wood fern.As long as it is planted in shade, this fern is remarkably forgiving of dry sites. I like to plant it on dry slopes where erosion can be a problem. This fall I will mix in some Aquilegia canadensis, Wild Columbine to add spring bloom, since this combination worked very well at a very dry slope at the Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm.

Oh and hey, speaking of ferns and the Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm, did you know there is this GREAT NEW FERN COURSE… Use this link if you’re interested in a self-paced, online video course that will help you design and plant your own native fern garden.

Happy watering!
Chris