Want to save money by watering less and have a garden that needs very little attention? Try planting a drought tolerant or native perennial garden this season. Below I have listed some of my favorite extremely common perennials that are easily found in garden centers nearly nationwide. Most tolerate tough planting conditions and have lower water needs, and almost all of them are flowering or ornamental in some fashion so attract pollinating insects. Keep in mind that all plants need more water their first season to get established. Follow the guides on the plant tags for planting needs.
Sustainable Watering Tip: Water less frequently, but deeply down at soil level. Heavily soaking the garden at the root level during establishment insures a deeper and better developed root system as well as less fungus issues on the top of the plant.
Conservation gardening with drought tolerant plants can still be an experience filled with lots of flowers that attract wildlife, for example, the Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan in the photo above. Below are my favorite flowering drought tolerant plants, both common and native for the Illinois area (if you live elsewhere, please consult a local nursery for advice on native plantings which might offer a lot of flower power).
Top 10 Drought Tolerant Common Perennial Varieties
- Yarrow (Achillea)
- Stone Crop (Sedum) All varieties – Fall bloomer
- Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
- Penstemon (Penstemon) All varieties
- Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina)
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) – Spring bloomer
- Coreopsis (Coreopsis) All varieties
- Coneflower (Echinacea) All varieties
- Blanket Flower (Gaillardia) All varieties
- Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii goldsturm) All varieties
Top 10 Drought Tolerant NATIVE to Illinois Perennial Varieties (for locals from my city or state)
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- Blazing Star or Gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya)
- Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- Little Bluestem Grass (Andropogon scoparius)
- New England Aster (Aster novae anglae)
- Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)
- Prairie Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus heterolepis) – Salt tolerant
- Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
- Wild Petunia (Ruella humilis)
- Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
To learn more about great plants to grow specifically in Illinois, please check out my book the Illinois Getting Started Garden Guide: Grow the Best Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Vines & Groundcovers. Thanks so much and happy drought tolerant gardening!