If you’re looking for drought-tolerant perennials and plants, look no further than North America. Chock full of low-water perennials and native wildflowers, the rugged environs of mid-America are home to many of the hardiest, low-maintenance perennials around.
North American Drought-Resistant Perennials
Coneflowers / Echinacea
A native perennial to much of the American Midwest, purple coneflowers (Echinacea sp.) are tall, gorgeous plants that are blissfully drought tolerant. And, while they’re loved as much for their stunning flowers (which traditionally have long, purple petals surrounded by campfire cores of deep reds, oranges and yellows), Echinacea have laissez-faire care needs—occasional watering and lots of sun is about all this plant needs to thrive and propagate. Better yet, coneflowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and native flower gardeners (both urban and rural species) and feed birds (and their watchers) throughout the winter.
Tickseed / Coreopsis
Another popular low-water perennial, tickseed (Coreopsis sp.) is a lower-growing lovely perfect for borders and knee-high garden spaces. Bright, yellow flowers in bushy, lush foliage bloom summer through fall and require little care whatsoever. In terms of both color contrast and compatibility, this drought-resistant perennial pairs well with stately Echinacea, as both are low-maintenance perennials that provide plenty of free seed for backyard birds.
Black-eyed Susans / Rudbeckia
A favorite of Native American perennial flower gardens, black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia sp.) are drought-tolerant, dasiy-like plants eager to perennialize under most conditions. Like most prairie plants, Rudbeckia needs plenty of sun to truly thrive but gardeners with sunny spots for this goldi-flocked beauty are rewarded with creamy, golden blooms throughout the summer months. Caveat: You may not want to grow Rudbeckia if you’re growing cabbage (or vice versa) as black-eyed susans are plant food for those baneful garden pests, Cabbage Moth caterpillars.
Liatris (Blazing Star / Gayfeather)
Another low-water perennial that also happens to be a North American wildflower, Liatris (also called Blazing Star or Gayfeather) is a striking and unusual beauty more often found in flower arrangements than flower gardens. Spiked plants with showy, purple flowers that feather around an elongated crown, Liatris is what cattails would look like if they went to a Pride parade. Easy to care for and even easier to propagate (without being invasive), Liatris is a wonderfully low-maintenance and drought-resistant perennial that adds a splash of color and height to gardens and borders.
There’s a reason everyone grows hosta: they’re drought-tolerant perennials that require just about no maintenance whatsoever. Known for their shade-tolerant ways, these ankle-high, go-with-the-flow perennials can still thrive in full sun (although in sunny locations they may actually need the occasional watering). Plus, with about 5,000 varieties to choose from, there’s a hosta for just about every taste (literally, as both hosta leaves and flowers are edible).
If you’re really into perennials, you may want to check out Edible Perennials: 5 Flowers You Can Eat and 5 Fantastic Perennial Herbs. Or, you can also a slew of gardening information for annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs on my Gardening Guides page.