April 7, 2008

Favorite Deer & Drought Tolerant Perennials

As I watch the flower garden emerge from winter into spring, I look for signs of the drought survivors. While our area of North Carolina is technically still in a drought, our lakes are finally full again from recent rainfalls. From last summer and through the winter the perennials stood up to the test of the drought tolerance. Since most of my plantings were new in spring/summer 2007, I'm pleased to report the drought tolerant successes of perennials -- that did not receive supplemental watering after the drought set in. These perennials were watered when first planted in April, May and June, which helped to get them established prior to the drought. Even drought tolerant plants need water to get established. Thereafter, these perennials are fairly carefree.

If you've followed my blog over the last year, you know that deer tolerance is also a requirement for my outer garden. This list of favorites also includes perennials that aren't touched by deer at all in my garden. Not even tasted and rejected (like some other plants); not even trimmed by deer at all.

I'm focusing on the top personal favorite deer and drought tolerant perennials in this blog. I'll talk about shrubs and ornamental grasses in the future. As an added bonus, these perennials are also loved by butterflies.

Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee'
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Perennial


There are little patches of green at the base of all of the coreopsis 'Creme Brulee' that I planted last year in the outer garden. There are literally hundreds of blooms all summer on this perennial. I sheared it back when the blooms faded and got another light bloom. My favorite tool for trimming a plant with this many blooms is a cordless Black & Decker HedgeHog cordless trimmer.

The verdict is still out on the pink/rose varieties ('Heaven's Gate' and 'Limerock Ruby') of coreopsis. I'm still watching for signs of life. Here's a photo taken while the 'Creme Brulee' was in bloom last summer.



Agastache 'Blue Fortune'
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Attracts bees
Attracts hummingbirds
Perennial


In the last week, the clumps of 'Blue Fortune' have come on strong. The perennials look hardy and it looks like the width of each plant has increased significantly to help fill in the bare spots in the garden. I am anticipating a strong showing from this butterfly magnet. The lilac/blue color works well with companion plants that bloom yellow, red, white, or orange.



Nepeta
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Attracts bees
Perennial


Nepeta is my "go to" plant! When I want a perennial that is easy to grow, provides a bloom season from spring until frost, is semi-evergreen, is drought tolerant, is deer tolerant, attracts bees, attracts butterflies and has beautiful soft blue color and fragrant foliage...this is it! Did I mention that it performs well the first season? Yes, it's near perfect to me.

I am in the process of expanding my edging along the outer gardens paths with nepeta. I have two varieties in the "dry" areas. Those are 'Six Hills Giant' and 'Walkers Low'. 'Walkers Low' doesn't get as tall as 'Six Hills Giant' but both need a lot of space -- allow 2-3 feet per plant. I have another variety, Nepeta Subsessillis, that works in moist soil. It is also coming back right now and I expect great things from that one. I'm on the look out for other varieties of nepeta, especially if I can introduce other colors of nepeta.

Looking through the nepeta:




Lavender 'Otto Quast'
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Attracts bees
Evergreen in zone 7
Perennial


I just love lavender. My favorite is 'Otto Quast' used throughout our garden. It blooms heavily in the spring. I shear it back and it has another lighter bloom in the summer. Here in our zone 7 of North Carolina, it is evergreen. The foliage is a bit grey, but still provides great winter interest in the garden when the other perennials have retired to the ground. If it bloomed as long as the nepeta, this would be another "go to" plant. It doesn't like overwatering, so always plant this one high and dry -- which makes it a great drought tolerant plant.



Perennial Heliotrope
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Attracts bees
Perennial


This is nothing like the fragrant annual heliotrope. This is a ground-covering flowering, creeping perennial heliotrope. It is difficult to find at plant nurseries and fortunately, I purchased quite a lot of it several years ago. This perennial has been with me for two years now. One plant goes a long way! It blooms non-stop from late spring until frost. Use it in places where you would plant 'Homestead Verbena'. I must say that I have doubts that I'll ever be able to REMOVE it from the garden, so beware of that one downside. It will fill in the bare spots in your garden in one season. It's beautiful at the feet of tall plants.

If you want to track this one down, here's the official name: Heliotropium amplexiacaule 'Azure Skies'.



Salvia greggii 'Navajo Red'
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Attracts butterflies
Attracts hummingbirds
Perennial


This is an evergreen (in my garden zone 7) shrubby 3x3 ft salvia. It blooms almost all summer. It does appreciate a little afternoon shade. I have it planted on a bank where a weeping willow gives it dappled shade from the late western sun. I wait until late spring to trim it back. I have other salvias in my garden, but this is my new favorite.




Hardy Ice Plant
Deer tolerant
Drought tolerant
Evergreen in zone 7
Perennial


Another wonderful sun-loving, deer tolerant plant is the hardy ice plant (delosperma cooperii). There are so many reasons to love this little plant! It is evergreen here in our zone; the blooms sparkle in the sunlight and close up at night; it spreads easily without being invasive; pinch off a sprig and just stick it in the soil to propagate. I have this edging our sidewalk and wish I had planted it on both sides. I've been pinching and planting sprigs all during the fall, winter and spring and those have rooted.



I have other "honorable mentions" such as verbena Bonariensis (tall and airy, light purple verbena). It's perfect for deer and drought areas and it comes back in my garden like a perennial. It blooms all summer for me. I don't have good photos of mine from last year. In some gardens, it isn't considered a perennial, but it does self-seed.

I'm keeping an eye on all the new coneflower varieties that I planted last year. The orange ('Sunset' and 'Sundown') are showing signs of life. I'm yet to see the pale yellow varieties emerge. Hopefully, I'll have more drought and deer tolerant favorites to add as the season continues.

Happy Gardening!
Cameron

Who Am I?

My Photo

Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

TO CONTACT ME: leave a comment and I will not publish your personal information. By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.


Follow Me on Pinterest

Follow FredaCameron on Twitter

The Musician. My late husband

The Musician. My late husband
Paris 2011

Subscribe Now:

Google+ Followers

Followers

Click Pic for Travel Stories

Click Pic for Travel Stories
Paris, France; September 2013