Gardeners in Colorado face a lot of challenges with persistent droughts, hot summers, and tough soil conditions. Luckily, you can make things easier by choosing drought-tolerant perennials that will thrive in your garden. Here’s a list of some of our favorite drought-tolerant plants that both you and your water bill will enjoy!
This French hybrid lavender will not only look great (and smell great!) but will be able to thrive in your garden. It has outstanding cold hardiness and has tolerance to extreme heat. It is a medium-sized grower and has gray-green foliage with tall stems of purple flower blooms in mid-summer. Lavender plants are sun-loving, so be sure to plant in full sun. It does need watering every other day for two weeks after planting, but once established, you only need to water once or twice per week. Be sure to plant in well-drained soil though. Lavender does not like wet feet, and heavy, poorly-drained clay soils will be fatal.
Powis Castle Artemisia
This bushy, wood-based ornamental sage is a great water-wise perennial to add to your garden. Its finely textured silver-gray foliage looks nice, especially paired with other perennials with differently colored foliage. And it not only looks good, but is drought, deer, and rabbit tolerant as well! Note that this sub-shrub thrives in poor to moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun.
May Night Salvia
May Night Salvias are wonderful drought-tolerant perennials. It has great tolerances for heavy clay soils and is cold hardy so this plant is prepared to tough it out in Colorado. It blooms with beautiful deep purple-blue flower spikes, and with some deadheading and a little extra water, it will rebloom heavily. Though reblooming needs some more water, the May Night is a low water plant that thrives in full sun. It is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow, pollinator attractor that is also deer-resistant! Overall, a great addition to your garden.
Rocky Mountain Penstemon
This plant is a real show stopper! A native beardtongue of the foothills and mountains of the southern Rockies, this one will be right at home in a Colorado garden. The showy blue-purple flower spikes last for over a month when they bloom. Like our other picks, the Rocky Mountain Penstemon thrives in full sun and has low water tolerance. This plant does need its space, so when planting, make sure it isn’t crowded by others and has enough “elbow room.” If your soil is clay-heavy, consider putting your Penstemon in a raised bed with well-drained soil. Also, avoid any overly enriched soils as too much fertilizer or compost will shorten its lifespan.
This unique drought-tolerant perennial is also known as the Chocolate Flower. Fitting because the beautiful yellow flowers from this perennial smell like sweet chocolate! Water regularly the first growing season to establish roots, but it will only need infrequent water thereafter. Otherwise, this plant is great for Colorado gardens as you can plant it in most any soil, including clay, with full sun conditions. You can mulch with gravel to encourage re-seeding, otherwise mulching isn’t needed.
Orange Butterfly Weed
As the name suggests, this plant is a food source for Monarch butterfly caterpillars and is very attractive to many varieties of butterflies. Most strains of this need sandy, gravelly soils, but some strains, like the clay form of Orange Butterfly Weed, do well in heavier soils. After their second growing season, it only requires infrequent watering and will thrive in full, hot sun.
Silver Carpet Lamb’s Ear
This water-wise perennial is not only easy to grow but is a great groundcover plant. This non-flowering plant is grey-leaved, fuzzy, and looks great contrasted against green and blue-leaved plants. They grow well in most any soil types, including clay, as long as it doesn’t sit wet. You can plant this one in full sun or part sun, and it only needs water when the soil and its roots significantly dry out.
Grow with the Help of Beaver Lakes Nursery
With these drought-tolerant perennials, your garden will not only look beautiful, but it will also save you and our beautiful state water! Some of these plants need certain mulches and organics, so if you need any of those or advice for growing, we’d be more than happy to help you out! Beaver Lakes Nursery & Landscape Supply is located in beautiful Montrose, Colorado.