by Diane Linsley
Growing drought-tolerant flowers is the responsible thing to do in a world with an ever-increasing population and declining natural resources. Unfortunately, it hasn't caught on yet in many places.
Looking around my neighborhood, you'd never know that we live in a desert. Nearly every house is surrounded by a sea of lush, green grass. Bluegrass is a terribly impractical thing to grow in a place where the summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, and it rarely rains in June, July or August.
Growing Drought-Tolerant Flower Seeds
Annual and perennial flowers don’t need to be watered every day like bluegrass does. But even drought-tolerant flowers need regular water to get established. Water usage can be reduced by using mulch (wood chips, grass clippings, etc.) and by planting densely. Closely spaced plants shade the soil, keeping it cool and reducing evaporation. Watering at night or in the early morning or late evening also helps to reduce evaporation.
When you grow your own drought-tolerant flowers from seed, the plants have a better chance of acclimatizing and putting down a good root system before the hot weather strikes. Transplants from the nursery often suffer more from heat and drought, and they need to be watered more often until they are established.
Here's a list of our best drought-tolerant flower seeds.
Drought-Tolerant Annual Seeds
African Daisy -- Colorful flowers in shades of orange, apricot, yellow and white. Alyssum -- Masses of tiny white, pink or purple flowers. Easy to grow from seed. Coreopsis -- Native wildflower with yellow, gold or mahogany-red flowers. Cosmos -- Late summer flowers in a variety of colors, heights and styles. Gilia tricolor -- Native wildflower with delicate lilac and white flowers. Fragrant. Marigold -- Popular annual with yellow, gold, orange and red flowers from seed. Zinnia -- Brightly colored, drought-tolerant flowers for the late summer garden.
Drought-Tolerant Perennial Seeds
Agastache (Hyssop) -- Fragrant foliage and colorful flowers for hummingbirds. Aquilegia (Columbine) -- Early spring-blooming flowers in a variety of colors. Aster -- Spring or fall-blooming perennials with flowers in various colors. Dalea purpurea -- Native wildflower. Magenta-purple flowers for butterflies. Dianthus -- Drought-tolerant perennials and biennials with fragrant flowers. Echinacea -- Long-blooming perennial with mauve or white flowers. Gaillardia -- Wine-red or scarlet-red flowers edged in yellow. Native wildflower. Hollyhock -- Tall biennial with single or double flowers in a range of colors. Liatris -- Tall spikes of fluffy, purple flowers in late summer to fall. Native. Penstemon (Beardtongue) -- Drought-tolerant perennial with tubular flowers. Ratibida -- Native wildflower with drooping, red or yellow or petals. Salvia -- Perennials with tubular flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Shasta Daisy -- Single or double, pure white flowers with yellow centers.