Hot, sunny, dry southern gardens need plants that can handle full sun and require little water. Even a few drought-tolerant plants can turn a boring, hot patch of soil into an attractive flower garden. There are a variety of water-wise, low-maintenance plants that thrive in hot, sunny, dry areas for you to choose from.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a perennial herb of the Lamiaceae family. Native to hot Mediterranean regions, lavender is successfully grown in USDA hardiness zones 5-9. Lavender plants have vivid, bluish-purple flower spikes that bloom from late June through early August. The aromatic foliage is grayish-green with a stippled surface. Mature lavender plants generally form a 1 ½ foot tall and 1 ½ foot wide upright clump. Lavender plants prefer fully sunny locations and rich, well-drained soil. Lavender is associated with few pest problems and diseases and are frequently used for edging along borders and walkways.
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are hardy, biennial wildflowers of the Asteraceae family. These flowers grow well in dry, sunny gardens with sandy, neutral-acidic soil. Black-eyed Susans put out rosettes of leaves the first summer and bloom the next summer. The petals are yellow with black centers, and the flowers sit on a 2-3 foot stem. Black-eyed Susans typically bloom from May until October.
False sunflowers (Heliopsis helianthoides) are drought-tolerant perennial plants of the Asteraceae family. Mature plants reach 3-5 feet in height and often become bushy in open locations. The hairy stems are light green, while the rough leaves are a darker green. The daisy-like flowers grow to be about 2-3 ½ inches in diameter. The light to golden yellow petals surround a darker yellow center. False sunflowers bloom throughout the summer and prefer fully sunny to partially sunny locations. False sunflowers are vulnerable to attacks from the caterpillars of the rigid sunflower borer moth (Papaipoma rigida).
Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) is an herbaceous perennial of the Asteraceae family that thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5-8. The yarrow plant bears tiny, golden yellow flowers that bloom from June through August. Its ferny foliage is grayish-green and aromatic. Yarrow plants generally grow to be 3-4 feet in height and 2-3 feet in width. Yarrow is susceptible to powdery mildew, rust and stem rot.
Blanket flowers (Gaillardia grandiflora) are short-lived, rounded shrubs belonging to the Asteraceae family. This herbaceous perennial is hardy in USDA zones 3-10. The blanket flower prefers full sun and tolerates dry soils. This plant stands about 2-3 feet high and has a 1-2 foot spread. The plant blooms daisy-like flowers from June through September, adding a dash of oranges, reds and yellows to southern gardens. Blanket flowers are commonly used as borders for perennial, butterfly and cottage gardens. These plants are susceptible to fungal leaf spot and powdery mildew.
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