Perennials & Annuals: My Drought Tolerant Favorites

Trailing vinca

By Trish Holder

I don’t have a great track record growing flowers.

Most of my conversations with greenhouse professionals begin with something like, “I want a pretty flowering plant that thrives with full sun and profound neglect.”

I know my limitations. Rather, I’ve come to accept my limitations. As much as I love and desire beautiful flowers, I can’t for the life of me remember to water or fertilize them. Nor am I inclined to spend a fortune of flashy annuals year after year that may or may not survive my haphazard care. So, I’ve become a lot pickier about what I purchase. This year I’m congratulating myself for picking two perennials and one annual that I will like gladly purchase again and again.

‘Bluebeard’ Caryopteris

‘Bluebeard’ Caryopteris and ‘Sunray’ Coreopsis Perennials
I’m no longer seduced by the variety of colorful annuals I encounter each spring and summer at garden centers and farmers markets. I find greater joy in the reappearance of a hardy perennial. Perennials are like loyal friends who understand you are too busy to tend to them as often as you like. This year, I’ve made two new perennial friends: “Blue-beard” (Caryopteris x clandonesis) and “Sunray Tickseed” (Coreopsis grandiflora).

I purchased this “Bluebeard” at a local nursery, after a heartfelt conversation that began with, “I’m looking for a blue perennial that I can’t kill….” I’m pleased to say that this perennial looks just as healthy as the day I brought it home. It hasn’t started blooming yet (its blooming season is early summer to fall) but I’m confident that in a few weeks my prudent choice will be rewarded with the mass of blue flowers that the label promises.

This particular perennial is also an evergreen with pretty silvery, blue-green leaves that last all year. At the moment, it doesn’t seem to be a particularly fast grower, so I’m likely to go buy a few more to fill-in the space in my evolving perennial garden. These plants are extremely drought tolerant, which is always a prerequisite for anything I purchase or plant.

‘Sunray’ coreopsis

‘Sunray’ Coreopsis

My ‘Sunray’ Coreopsis, also known as “tickseed” is blooming and already has me wishing I’d bought more. These bright golden blooms are showy even from far away. Up close, the 2-inch, fringed blooms remind me of carnations. I planted them about 3 weeks ago and they have been blooming since the middle of May.

‘Sunray’ is hardy in zones 5 -9. If this looks as good next spring as it does this spring, you can bet I’ll be bragging about what wise choice I made.

Trailing Vinca for My Window Box
I did break down and buy one annual – a new trailing type of vinca called CoraTM. A grower at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market tipped me off that these flowers were virtually indestructible. So far, he seems right. I planted them last week and didn’t water them for week after that. They still look greenhouse gorgeous.

trailing vinca in window box

Trailing vinca

Vincas are very drought tolerant and the CoraTM trailing variety is even harder to kill than the more commonly known small, upright vincas. Like regular vincas, they come in a variety of colors and have the same dark green, glossy leaves. This variety, however, trails, which made it a good candidate for my kitchen window box.

So, there you go — three drought-tolerant flowers that offer long seasonal color for little to no effort. Remember ‘Bluebeard’ Caryopteris x clandonensis, ‘Sunray’ Coreopsis, and CoraTM trailing vinca.

2 Responses »

  1. Trish,

    I enjoy the variety of what you offer here for your readers. And this is another one of those posts that reminds me of your talent at reaching your audience. Every home needs a splash of color both at the foundation and along the windows. Nice photos of health and hearty plants.



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