Summer Color in Dry Places?

Summer Color in Dry Places?

Yes, even in places that only get watered periodically you can have summer color. There are a number of drought-tolerant annuals, perennials and shrubs that provide colorful flowers and foliage. Here are two that do particularly well on Cape Cod.

This photo shows two great summer flowering perennials for dry places: Echinacea and Perovskia aka purple cone flower and Russian sage.  Purple cone flower isn’t purple, however, and Russian sage isn’t a sage, but both of these plants are stunning despite having confusion common names. The Echinacea in this photo is a variety called ‘Hot Papaya.’ These are two of the longest-flowering perennials that you can plant; be sure to place both in full sun. Fertilize with a light application of an organic fertilizer in April or May, and if you water during a drought do so deeply once every week or two. These are not plants that appreciate automatic irrigation that comes on frequently. Clip the spent Echinacea flowers off as they go by to encourage more flowers.

Lower-growing perennials that would be nice in front of the Echinacea are Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed. The native little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) would also be a handsome companion that turns a coppery color in the fall. For flowers earlier in the season place some Baptisia behind the Russian sage.

In the garden some like it hot and some do not. So put those Hydrangeas that we all love so much in afternoon shade and keep the sunnier spots for drought tolerant, flowering plants.

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