Beat the drought with this arsenal of tough garden perennials


Over the last week, rain has been about half of normal over the D.C. area (High Plains Regional Climate Center)

Still, as you can see on the map to the right, we’re back in the fast lane to drought. Since March 1, we’ve received less than half our normal rain. Looking at Matt Ross’ forecast for the summer yesterday was certainly not very encouraging either. With that in mind I think I will concentrate on putting in dry weather plants anywhere I can this season.

Fear not, for there are plenty of plants that will stand up to just about the worst dryness that the season can offer up. But please Mother Nature, that is not a challenge! I am going to concentrate on the perennial side of things for the most part because I am looking for less planting and more pretty as I get older and saner.


Centaurea

Another great choice is Centaurea Montana which is about a foot tall and has loads of spidery blooms ranging from the deepest burgundy through the blues to white. They spread moderately to fill in tough to grow spaces with a big burst of hardy blooms in the late spring/early summer.


Ice plant

For a little different kind of plant, try Euphorbia, their “blooms” are really leaf bracts with tiny flowers in the middle. Their great quality is not only the eye-catching ability but also a very long lived display, from late spring through the summer.

In the grasses department, any Miscanthus is a work horse with heights ranging from two to 6 feet and a variety of seed heads to suit a variety of tastes. For a more demure grass, try Pennisetum, which also comes in lots of forms but is mainly in the one to two foot height range.

One of my all-time drought hardy plants is Lavender. Its great scent comes from an abundance of purple blooms through the summer that beckons bumble bees and hummingbirds in droves. It also looks great in formal settings. A plant with similar blooms and attracts the hummers too is the back of the border, three to 5 foot Perovskia, Russian Sage. It has airy foliage so is best planted behind some denser growth. A front of the border shorter and denser look alike is Salvia.

As you can see there are a myriad of choices and I have only touched on some of my favorites. With any of these choices you can take the dryness in flying colors, literally. I would really like to hear what your favorites are too!

David Streit grew up on a farm/ranch in Nebraska. Witness to severe weather of all varieties focused his career path. Degrees from the universities of Nebraska and Wisconsin prepared him to be a forecaster for Capital Weather Gang as well as his day job as COO of Commodity Weather Group.

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