Garden news: Prepare for heat with drought-tolerant plants

Summer will be here before you know it, and you can prepare for the heat now by planting beautiful drought-tolerant plants in sunny spots of your landscape.

Although we often get hot, dry spells in south Louisiana, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill says you can find plants that are tough and superb at producing beautiful flowers in those conditions.

“We expect the flowers we plant to produce beautiful color for us through the summer,” Gill says. “And this time of year, we generally get frequent rainfall, so drought is not usually an issue. But as we move into the heat of summer, drought begins causing problems.”

You can find good, drought-tolerant plants that will provide color in your flower beds this summer.

These aren’t so fussy, so you won’t have to water so much when we do have dry weather.

Gill’s suggestions include yarrow, with wonderful, ferny foliage and flowers in a variety of colors. Yarrow — or achillea — is a perennial that comes back every year.

“Another great perennial is coneflower, or Echinacea, with beautiful flowers in purples and reds and burgundies and whites,” Gill says. “It’s tough as nails and drought-tolerant as well.”

Or how about lantana, which is known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It also tolerates drought very well.

“When I say tolerates drought, it means you don’t have to get out and water these plants so much when its gets dry,” Gill says. “A lot of these plants would resent being watered too much.”

Cleome, also known as spider flower because the projecting stamens of the flowers give these plants a spidery look, plant can take summer’s heat and is drought-tolerant, adds LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are highly attracted to the lavender-pink flowers. Plant cleome for height and drama in the landscape, Owings says.

Use it as a tall border in the flower garden or plant a few to add a “wow factor” to a specific area.

Other selections on Gill’s list of heat- and drought-tolerant plants include purslane, gaillardia or blanket flower, and butterfly weed or milk weed — a lovely plant that attracts butterflies.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.