By: Liz Baessler
If you live in a dry climate, keeping your plants watered is a constant battle. The easiest way to avoid the battle is to stick to perennial plants that tolerate dry conditions. Why water and water when there are so many plants that just don’t need it? Avoid the hassle and have a garden that’s happy to take care of itself by planting drought tolerant plants. Keep reading to learn more about choosing drought tolerant perennials for zone 7.
Top Zone 7 Drought Tolerant Perennials
Here are some of the best perennials tolerant of drought in zone 7:
Purple Coneflower – Hardy in zone 4 and up, these flowers grow 2 to 4 feet tall (0.5-1 m.). They like full sun to part shade. Their flowers last all summer long and are great for attracting butterflies.
Yarrow – Yarrow comes in many varieties, but all are winter hardy in zone 7. These plants tend to reach between 1 and 2 feet in height (30.5-61 cm.) and produce white or yellow flowers that bloom best in full sun.
Sun Drop – Hardy in zone 5 and above, the evening primrose plant grows to about 1 foot tall and 1.5 feet wide (30 by 45 cm.) and produces a profusion of bright yellow flowers.
Lavender – A classic drought tolerant perennial, lavender has foliage that smells amazing all year long. Throughout the summer it puts up delicate flowers in purple or white that smell even better.
Flax – Hardy down to zone 4, flax is a sun to part shade plant that produces beautiful flowers, usually in blue, all summer long.
New Jersey Tea – This is a small Ceanothus shrub that tops out at 3 feet (1 m.) in height and produces loose clusters of white flowers followed by purple fruits.
Virginia Sweetspire – Another drought tolerant shrub for zone 7 that produces fragrant white flowers, its foliage turns a stunning shade of red in the fall.
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As its name implies, Sea Pinks are found naturally along coastlines where few other plants can handle the high salt concentration. Inland, this attribute makes them useful for planting along sidewalks or driveways that are salted in winter. They are also good candidates for rock gardens, troughs, or between pavers.
Gather bouquets of Asclepias all summer long the long stems are wonderful for cutting and are long-lasting. Sear the ends of the cut stems over a flame to stop the milky sap from leaking out. Following the fabulous flowers, green fruits develop which rupture to reveal seeds with long, silvery-white, silky hairs reminiscent of its cousin, common milkweed. These are great to use in dried flower arrangements.
The Mid-Season Superstars:
Ornamental Onion ‘Millenium’ (Allium ‘Millenium’, zones 5 to 9). The 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year, ‘Millenium’ is a showy selection with grassy foliage and two-inch diameter, rounded flower clusters in a cheerful shade of lavender-purple. The flowers bloom for around six weeks each summer, attracting every bee, butterfly, and beneficial insect for miles around. The one-foot tall and wide clumps are perfect for the front of a perennial border or a rock garden where the ball-shaped blooms can be appreciated. Technically a bulb, this plant is usually sold as a potted perennial and can be planted in spring or fall. Unlike many perennials, pruning doesn’t produce more flowers.
Coneflower ‘White Swan’ and ‘Magnus’ (Echinacea purpurea, zones 3 to 9). Coneflowers are the cornerstone of a summer perennial garden, blooming for months, even in dry, hot conditions, and providing food for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. There are countless cultivars available to gardeners, but for months of flowers, it’s hard to beat old school selections like ‘Magnus’ and ‘White Swan’. ‘Magnus’ is a classic purple-flowering coneflower, while ’White Swan’ has large blooms with white petals and orange-copper cones. Both flower from early summer into mid-autumn, especially when deadheaded regularly.
Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ (Coreopsis x ‘Full Moon’, zones 5 to 9). This eye-catching plant is among the longest flowering perennials with a season that stretches from early summer to early autumn. It’s also the first introduction in the new ‘Big Bang’ series of coreopsis, boasting large, soft yellow flowers that grow up to three-inches across. It also has excellent drought tolerance and is popular with the pollinators. ‘Moonbeam’ is another popular long-flowering coreopsis with pale yellow blooms that are smaller, but no less plentiful than those of ‘Full Moon’. With both cultivars, deadhead flowers as they fade to encourage new buds.
Astilbe (Astilbe species, zones 4 to 9). Astilbe stands out among the longest flowering perennials. Besides being super easy to grow, they thrive in both sunny and shaded gardens, and have feathery flowers that offers months of graceful color. And speaking of color, the blooms can be white, lavender, purple, bubblegum, deep pink, apricot, or red, often with bronze or purple foliage as well. The plants form tidy clumps with the flower plumes emerging in early to mid summer and persisting into winter. The plants do appreciate ample moisture and regular watering in dry summers can prolong the blooming period. Outstanding cultivars include ‘Bridal Veil’, ‘Pumila’, and ‘Fanal‘.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, zones 3 to 9). A butterfly favorite, yarrow is a robust summer bloomer with pretty, flat-topped flowers that bloom for 6 to 8 weeks. The ferny foliage emerges in early spring and is followed by the two to four-foot tall flower stems in early summer. Yarrow is one of the longest flowering perennials that grows best in full sun with well-drained soil of average fertility over-fertilizing can cause the stems to flop over. Flower colours can range from soft pastels to rich jewel shades. Deadhead spent flowers by clipping the flower stem back to the main foliage. Top varieties include ‘Moonshine’, which has pale, yellow flowers and ‘Cerise Queen’, a bright cherry-red bee magnet.
Pruning Tip – As summer flowers fade, deadhead often, cutting down to a fresh stem or set of leaves. This will push the plants to continue producing more blooms. Small flowered perennials, like ‘Moonbeam’ Coreopsis, can be quickly and easily deadheaded with hedge shears, rather than snipping individual blooms. In late summer, as flowering winds down, stop deadheading to allow some blooms to go to seed. Seedheads provide valuable food for birds and add interest to the winter garden.