5 Summer Flowers You'll Hardly Ever Have to Water
Weeding and watering are my two least favorite gardening activities, especially in summer. Thorough mulching takes care of the first, but reducing the second also requires choosing the right plants. I prefer those that sip, not gulp. In fact, any plant that can't go a week without me standing at the end of a hose will suffer a short and miserable life.
Please understand, I am talking about plants that are growing in the ground, not containers. With the exception of succulents, most plants growing in pots require watering about every other day because they have such little soil in which to grow, and the soil dries quickly. With that said, I hereby present to you five flowers that, once established, will bloom all summer with just a modicum of H2O. Just give them plenty of sun and well-drained soil.
Sipper No. 1—Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
If you live near the beach, you'll often see blanket flowers growing right on the dunes in pure sand. Hybridizers have done a lot of work with them to produce bigger flowers, different colors, and bushier forms. The Southern Living Plant Collection includes 'Sunset Orange' (Gaillardia grandiflora "Sunset Orange' is orange and yellow), 'Celebration' (Gaillardia grandiflora 'Sunset Flash' PP26945 is red), and 'Sunset Flash' (Gaillardia grandiflora 'Celebration' PP26969 is red and yellow). All grow 14- to 16-inches tall and wide. Butterflies love them. Clip old seed heads to keep new flowers coming.
Sipper No. 2—Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia)
Old-fashioned snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) hate summer heat. Summer snapdragons (above) love it. These tropical natives come in two forms, upright and trailing. Spikes of blue, purple, lavender, red, pink, or white blossoms adorn the foliage. Plants only need occasional deadheading. Butterflies like them, but deer don't. If flower production wanes a bit, give them a drink of liquid fertilizer.
Sipper No. 3—Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
Easy to start from seed and just as easy to grow in a garden, globe amaranth (above) is a lazy gardener's dream. Clover-like blooms in colors of pink, purple, white, orange, and red appear nonstop. They make great cut flowers, as they hold their colors when they dry. Some plants like those in the 'Strawberry Fields' series can grow 2-feet tall. My favorite, though, is 'Buddy,' a purple dwarf that reaches only 6 to 8 inches. Plants don't need deadheading, and deer don't eat them.
Sipper No. 4—Ornamental Purslane (Portulaca hybrid)
It's hard to believe that a terrible lawn weed could give birth to an amazing flower, but it happened. Plant breeders crossed common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) with other species to produce an ornamental marvel (above) that pairs succulent, paddle-shaped leaves with showy flowers that may be red, orange, peach, yellow, or white. Flowers open in the morning and close in the evening. Because of its trailing nature, ornamental purslane makes knock-out hanging baskets, but you can also use it to edge flower borders. Butterflies like it, but deer don't. Minimal attention required – just don't water too much.
Sipper No. 5—Lantana (Lantana sp.)
Why do you see sweeps of lantana planted so often at shopping malls and entrances to neighborhoods? Because they supply continuous color with just about zero care. Rounded flower clusters about an inch in diameter usually consist of light-yellow blooms in the center with orange, red, pink, peach, yellow, or white blooms surrounding them, although some selections offer solid colors. Butterflies loooove lantana. It needs no deadheading. Be sure to check the label for height and spread, as some grow large and mounding, while others hug the ground.
More Plants That Can Handle Southern Summers
There are more ways to incorporate plants into your garden that are drought tolerant or can stand up to sweltering, summer heat. For starters, these 20 plants will retain their beauty, whether in beds or containers, despite the sun beating down and a scarcity of rain. To go local, choose native plants—from oakleaf hydrangea to yellow jessamine—well-suited to the heat and drought of Southern summers. Container gardens will hold their own in the hottest months with heat-tolerant plants. For edible gardens, drought-tolerant herbs are beautiful to look at and will boost your summer recipes with lots of flavor. Finally, dry-climate succulents are always a low-maintenance option.