Ceanothus is a reliable drought-tolerant shrub. In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes

Ceanothus (California lilac) is a reliable drought-tolerant shrub with brilliant blue flowers. Photo © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks.

We’re headed for more hot and sunny weather. This weekend might be a good time to assess your garden for its drought tolerance. Plants that wilt easily in hot weather require a lot of time and money to keep watered. Wouldn’t you prefer plants that require less care?

Fortunately, there is a wide choice of plants that require little summer watering once they are established (usually two or three growing seasons). Here are a few sources for ideas.

One of our favorite websites, Great Plant Picks, has plants for dry sun and for dry shade.

Saving Water Partnership published The Plant List of drought-tolerant plants.

The Natural Yard Care Program also created a list of drought-tolerant plants suited to our climate.

From The Oregonian/Oregon Live, here are a number of plants categorized by the amount of water they need.

Needs no to little irrigation

(Water during drought from twice a season to monthly)
Artemisia (most)
Bush anemone (Carpenteria californica)
California wild lilac (Ceanothus)
Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
Lavender cotton (Santolina)
Naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna)
Red-hot poker (Kniphofia)
Rock rose (Cistus)
Russian sage (Perovskia)
Sedum (varies by species)
Yarrow (Achillea)

Needs little to moderate irrigation

(Water during drought every three to four weeks)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora)
Butterfly bush (Buddleja)
Germander (Teucrium)
Ice plant (Delosperma)
Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber)
Poppy (Papaver)
Redbud (Cercis)
Rock soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus)
Smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria)
Thyme (Thymus)

Needs moderate irrigation

(Water during drought every two to three weeks)
Bellflower (Campanula)
Bluebeard (Caryopteris)
Catmint (Nepeta)
Coral bells (Heuchera)
Daylily (Hemerocallis)
Dwarf plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)
Firethorn (Pyracantha)
Golden chain tree (Laburnum)
Goldenrod (Solidago)
Lady Banks’ rose (Rosa banksiae)
Lavender (Lavandula)
Mullein (Verbascum)
Snow in summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)

Don’t forget: Every newly planted plant needs regular watering for the first two to three growing season to become established. It is best to water slowly and deeply to encourage the plant to develop deep roots.


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