Add bright spots of colour to dry spots in your garden or landscape with drought-tolerant bedding plants. Bedding plants, perennials and annuals, are used in containers, borders or flower beds. Perennials bloom for a short period of time but live for several years, while annuals germinate, bloom, go to seed and die in a single growing season. Choose a variety of colours for visual impact.
When choosing plants for your garden or landscape, consider factors such as maintenance, moisture and light requirements and fertiliser needs. Low-maintenance flowers don't require constant pruning and deadheading to thrive. Plant species with similar water and light requirements close to one another. Before planting, amend soil with fertilisers, lime or peat moss as needed to ensure a continuous nutrient supply and a pH balance of 6.3 to 6.7. Finally, choose your colour palette.
Planting Bedding Plants
The Penn State Cooperative Extension in Monroe County recommends planting bedding plants on a cloudy day or in the evening to reduce the risk of transplant shock. Place plants at ground level with peat pots completely covered. Add a layer of mulch to hold moisture and reduce weeds.
Drought-resistant red annuals include butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberous), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), cockscomb (Celosia cristata), kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana), Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), musk mallow (Abelmoschus moschatus) and ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea).
Red drought-resistant perennial bedding plants include coralbells (Heuchera Americana), peony (Paeonia lactiflora) and red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria).
Drought-resistant pink annuals include dianthus (Dianthus chinensis), geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum), Mexican heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) and pentas (Pentas lanceolata).
Pink drought-resistant perennials include bee balm (Monarda didyma), hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi), Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) and spike gayfeather (Liatris spicata ).
Purple to Blue
Drought-resistant purple or blue annuals include evolvulus (Evolvulus sp. Grandiflorus), globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), lantana (Lantana trifoliata), mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) and sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima).
Drought-resistant purple to blue perennials include asters (Aster spp.), baptisia (Baptisia australis), bugle weed (Ajuga reptans), perovskia (Perovskia atriplicifolia), purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and Stokes' aster (Stokesia laevis).
Drought-tolerant annuals that bloom in a variety of colours include blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), celiosa (Celosia plumose), cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus and Cosmos sulphureus), creeping zinnia (Zinnia linearis), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata), four o'clock (Mirabilis Jalapa), gazania (Gazania regens), nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), pansy (Viola x wittrockiana), petunia (Petunia x hybrida), phlox (Phlox drummondii), rose moss (Portulaca grandiflora), statice (Limonium spp.), verbena (Verbena canadensis, Verbena tenuisecta and Verbena x tenera) and zinnia (Zinnia spp.).
Multi-coloured drought-tolerant perennials include day lilies (Hemerocallis spp.), Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium), veronica (Veronica spicata) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Drought-resistant yellow annuals include calendula (Calendula officinalis), Dahlberg daisy (Dyssodia tennuiloba), marigold (Tagetes erecta and Tagetes. Patul), melampodium (Melampodium paludosum), purslane (Portulaca oleracea), sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and yarrow (Achillea filipendulina).
Drought-resistant yellow perennials include black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberous), coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata, Coreopsis verticillata and Coreopsis tinctoria), goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and sedum (Sedum spectabile).
Drought-resistant white annuals include ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), mealy cup salvia (Salvia farinacea), narrow-leaved zinnia (Zinnia augustifolia), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) and spider flower (Cleome hasslerana).
Perennial white-blossomed bedding plants that resist drought include baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata ), candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), guara (Gaura lindheimeri) and Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum).
- University of Florida Lee County Extension Service: Bedding Plants for Southwest Florida; Stephen H. Brown
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Under-Utilized Bedding Plants for the North Carolina Landscape; Douglas A. Bailey
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Extension in Lancaster County: Flowers for Hot Dry Conditions; Don Janssen
- Penn State Cooperative Extension in Monroe County: Selecting and Planting Annuals for a Colorful Garden; Linda S. Wiles
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Drought Tolerant Annuals
- University of Missouri Extension: Drought-Tolerant Annuals