Published on 03/14/01

Drought-resistant Landscape Plants

Photo: UGA CAES Horticulture

Established properly, Lantana 'New Gold' will bloom all summer with water every other week.
Annual and perennial flowers that thrive even in a drought are already out there -- hundreds of them -- in Georgia nurseries and garden centers.

Several Georgia landscape and greenhouse experts recently listed more than 200 mainstream plants that, if you get them established properly, need precious little water in hot, dry conditions.

Drought Rules

Most of these plants are truly prolific bloomers. For example, Lantana 'New Gold' loves 100-degree heat and needs watering only once every two weeks to bloom solidly through the summer.

We often don't use these drought-resistant wonders because we're more drawn to the many exciting new annuals that, unfortunately, are water hogs.

Native Woodland Flowers

Who waters our native woodland flowers? These plants have lived in Georgia droughts for eons with no water fairies caring for them.

Native plants can take the heat, and they're adapted to drought. Hundreds of native flowers and flowering bulbs can brighten your garden. And many garden centers and nurseries carry natives.

You can learn more about native plants and where to buy them from the Georgia Native Plant Society Web site.

Don't like bed preparation and all the fuss? Natives are the best way to responsibly landscape and garden without the extra effort.

The Good, the Bad

Here are just a few plants we recommend and a few you need to avoid.

  • Perennials for Sun: Lantana 'Miss Huff' (Miss Huff Lantana), Helianthus angustifolia (Swamp Sunflower), Salvia guaranitica (Hummingbird Sage), Salvia leucantha (Mexican Sage), Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican Sunflower), Rudbeckia triloba (Black Eyed Susan), Stachys byzantina (Lambs ears), Artemesia 'Silver King' (Silver King) and Kniphofia uvaria (Red Hot Poker).
  • Perennials for Shade: Helebor hybrids (Lenten Rose), Japanese autumn ferns, Aspidistra eliator (Parlor Plant), Monarda didyma (Bee Balm: wilts but comes back), Iris tectorum (Roof Iris), Iris barbata (Bearded Iris), Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (Autumn Joy), Iris siberica (Siberia Iris) and Hosta hybrids.
  • Annuals: Lantana camara hybrids (Lantana), Catharanthus roseus (Vinca), Amaranthus caudatus (Amaranths), Celosia cristata (Cocks Comb), Portulaca hybrids (Moss Rose), Melampodium paludosum (Golg Button Plant), Petunias (especially old-timey and "Wave" petunias), Passiflora 'Byron's Beauty' (Passiflora), Cosmos bipinnatus (Cosmos), Cosmos sulfureus (Cosmos), Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican Sunflower), Verbena tenuisecta (Moss Verbena), Salvia farinaceae hybrids (Blue Salvia) and Zinnia elegans (Zinnias).
  • Perennial Natives: Lilium hybrids (Lilies), Amsonia tabernaemontana (Blue Stars), Daucus carota (Queen Ann's Lace), Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant), Lonicera sempervirens (Red Honeysuckle), Achillea millifolium (Yellow Yarrow), Clematis paniculata (Clematis), Oenothera speciosa (Pink Sundrops), Bellamcanda chinensis (Blackberry Lily), Boltonia asteroides (White Boltonia), asters (native species), Echinaceae purpurea (Purple Cone Flower), Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort), Eupatorium coelestinum (Woodland Ageratum), Eupatorium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed), Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) and Bignonia capreolata (Cross Vine).
  • Annuals to Avoid: Impatiens, marigolds, begonias, Scaevola, New Guinea Impatiens, Osteospermums, Ageratum houstonianum, caladiums, coleus (shade type) and Nicotiana.
  • Perennials to avoid: Phlox paniculata, Veronica hybrids, Centranthus roseus, Coreopsis grandiflora, standard petunias and non-native asters.
Paul Thomas is a horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.