By Katie Marks, Networx
Think a drought-tolerant garden has to be all dull colors and straggly plants? Think again. If your plumbing is groaning over the miserable, dry heat, that doesn't mean your garden has to look like a wilted bouquet. Drought-tolerance doesn't mean boring, and we've got some great recommendations for plants to consider in 2014. Make your garden colorful, lively, and ready for dry weather!
One of my personal favorites, parrot's beak has silvery foliage and bright, BRIGHT red and orange flowers. (It also comes in other shades, like pink.) These plants will merrily grow, and grow, and grow, even when the rest of the garden isn't so happy. They have a sprawling growth habit that makes them ideal for containers and borders.
Another favorite of mine, flowering quince may look menacing, but it's a softie at heart. This shrub has beautiful red flowers and spikes to match, with small green foliage. It's incredibly hardy, and delightfully, it's an early bloomer, so it puts out flowers while the rest of the garden is still gearing up.
You knew lavender was drought-tolerant, right? This Mediterranean plant LOVES dry weather, and it will happily keep blooming, smelling amazing, and producing its famous silvery-gray foliage. It's ideal for bedding and establishing as a large shrub.
We know the name is silly, but the plant isn't. This evergreen shrub produces beautiful cones of aromatic purple flowers, and it's an heirloom. You'll need to prune it to help it develop and retain an even, healthy shape, but on the plus side, it will attract butterflies and birds to your garden.
The whole Salvia genus is drought tolerant, and there are tons of options to choose from, including some, like pineapple sage, with an amazing scent as well as colorful flowers. Be advised that sages don't handle frost well, and will need to be cut back after the winter months, although they will return.
This delightful evergreen plant produces delicate flowers in ranges of purple, violet, and even red. It loves full to partial sun and rock gardens as well as other rough, well-drained soil in the garden, and will blanket the landscape if it's content where it is.
You might not expect these majestic shrubs to weather droughts well, but they do. They like full to partial sun and well-drained soil. As long as these conditions are in play, they'll produce rich green leaves which will drop in fall, along with gorgeous frothy white flowers.
They're soft. They're fuzzy. They're silvery gray. And they don't care one bit if it's dry. These hardy plants are ideal for borders and bedding plants in your garden, and they can also decorate your rock garden or containers. They'll also produce flower spikes!
In the words of the staff at Fine Gardening, this is a plant that prefers neglect. Leave it alone and it will produce lovely green foliage and delicate white flowers with a delicious smell. Pretty good deal, if you ask me!
Keep in mind that "drought tolerant" doesn't mean "can be ignored." These plants should all be provided with ample fertilizer and mulch to support them, and they will need to be watered. Offer them occasional deep waterings to encourage them to root deeply in the soil and seek out their own sources of water, and as they get established, you can taper back on the watering. Be aware that extreme drought and heat can kill even the hardiest of plants!