Less thirsty, more interesting perennials | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Some perennials and annual plants will be looking great this week and these are the ones that are drought and heat resistant.

Some perennials and annual plants will be looking great this week and these are the ones that are drought and heat resistant.

Perennials are plants that come back each year without the need for replanting. Perennials do not flower as long as annuals or bedding plants but if you pick from one of the plants below you will find them less thirsty and with more interesting flowers and foliage.

Agastache – Hummingbird Mint

This may be the best perennial you’ve never heard of. Fragrant leaves and brightly colored, tube shaped blooms make this bright bloomer a plant that hummingbirds and butterflies can’t resist.

The slightly hairy leaves mean agastache is both drought and pest resistant and the tidy growth habit makes this summer blooming perennial good for both pots and borders. You will find Agastche in shades of yellow gold, red and pinks. Plant this perennial in well-drained, sandy soil in full sun.

Tip: For containers and smaller gardens choose the Agastache Kudos series as the plants are more compact but still colorful.

Bergenia – Pig squeak

Huge, paddle-shaped leaves make this perennial a go-to plant for adding texture to the rock garden or dry perennial bed. This spring blooming plant thrives on neglect and will even grow in poor or sandy soil. If you live in a mild winter area the foliage will be evergreen and if you like early spring color the wands of bright, pink bloom clusters will delight you.

Bergenia ‘Lunar Glow’ has lime yellow leaves that highlight the bright pink blooms and the dwarf bergenia ‘Dragonfly’ is more compact for tiny spaces.

Tip: In dry shade plant bergenia in front of fall-blooming Japanese anemone and alongside the fine texture of shade plants such as ferns, bleeding hearts and lamiums. Bait for slugs in early spring around this plant.

Campanula – Bell Flower

This cottage garden plant has many different varieties but all have bell shaped blooms in shades of blue, lavender, white or pink. Most of the campanulas are drought resistant especially when grown in the shade garden. There are dwarf rock garden campanulas often used in tiny fairy gardens and the hardy wall campanulas that will reseed and colonize piles of rubble and old rock walls and other spaces where no other plants seem to survive. Some of the easy to grow campanulas can become invasive so this perennial is recommended for areas with dry soil.

Tip: It is best to move, add or transplant campanulas in early spring or in the fall. They need somewhat moist soil to get started but then are more drought resistant once established.

Crocosmia – Montbretia

Grassy, sword-like leaves and brilliant orange blooms on plume-like spikes make this summer flowering bulb a favorite for sunny hillsides or any spot with well-drained soil. If your winter temps stay above zero degrees the small bulbs will come back in larger colonies year after year. If the weather is colder cover the bulbs with a mulch a few inches deep each fall to keep them from freezing.

Tip: If you notice that your crocosmia have fewer blooms after a few years in the garden, then it is time to dig and divide the corms. Do this in the fall once the green leaves start to fade.

Eryngium – Sea Holly

Spiny leaves and spiky blooms make this a dangerous-looking perennial, but the silver color means this plant needs little water once established and the flowers are unique, star-like and vivid purple or electric blue.

Eryngium is a taller perennial that has a long bloom time. The starry flowers hold color from summer to fall as they dry out in the sun. Leave the flower bracts in place all winter and this plant may reseed in all the rocky, sunny parts of your garden.

Tip: Harvest the unusual blooms when they feel dry to the touch and use them in everlasting floral arrangements or wreaths.

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