They also love the heat and never stop blooming.

By Steve Bender
May 24, 2021
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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 will bloom all summer with just a modicum of H2O. Just give them plenty of sun and well-drained soil.

Sipper #1 – Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Credit: Steve Bender

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' (orange and yellow), 'Celebration' (red), and 'Sunset Flash' (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 #2 – Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia)

Purple Serena Angelonia
Credit: Van Chaplin

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 #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 two 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 #4 – Ornamental Purslane (Portulaca hybrid)

Ornamental Purslane (Portulaca hybrid)
Credit: Getty Images

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 #5 – Lantana (Lantana sp.)

Lantana
Credit: Alison Miksch

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.