Beautiful Plants You’ll Barely Need to Water
Whether you live in a town with expensive water (like I do), live in a drought zone, or are just trying to be a thoughtful steward of the earth’s natural resources, there are plenty of reasons to try to conserve water in your garden.
However, you may also want beautiful summer color. That’s when it’s handy to know which plants to grow that don’t require much water to maintain their health and beauty.
This article outlines eight lovely plants to grow that don’t require much watering. And as a bonus, a couple of them also have culinary and medicinal uses.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Achillea millefolium, commonly known as yarrow /ˈjæroʊ/ or common yarrow, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae.
It is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America.
It has been introduced as a feed for live stock in places like New Zealand and Australia. However, it is a weed in those places and sometimes also in its native regions.
In New Mexico and southern Colorado, it is called plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’) from its leaf shape and texture.
In antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in stanching the flow of blood from wounds.
Other common names for this species include gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)
Lamb’s-ear plants are perennial herbs usually densely covered with gray or silver-white, silky-lanate hairs.
They are named lamb’s ears because of the leaves curved shape and white, soft, fur-like hair coating. Flowering stems are erect, often branched, and tend to be 4-angled, growing 40–80 cm tall.
The leaves are thick and somewhat wrinkled, densely covered on both sides with gray-silver colored, silky-lanate hairs; the under sides are more silver-white in color than the top surfaces.
The leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and 5 to 10 cm long. The leaf petioles are semiamplexicaul (the bases wrapping half way around the stem) with the basal leaves having blades oblong-elliptic in shape, measuring 10 cm long and 2.5 cm wide (though variation exists in cultivated forms).
The leaf margins are crenulate but covered with dense hairs, the leaf apexes attenuate, gradually narrowing to a rounded point.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed native to eastern North America. It is a perennial plant growing to 0.3–1 metre (1 ft 0 in–3 ft 3 in) tall, with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early autumn.
The leaves are spirally arranged, lanceolate, 5–12 cm long, and 2–3 cm broad.
This plant favors dry, sand or gravel soil, but has also been reported on stream margins.
It requires full sun. It is commonly known as butterfly weed because of the butterflies that are attracted to the plant by its color and its copious production of nectar.
It is also the larval food plant of the Queen and Monarch butterflies. Hummingbirds, bees and other insects are also attracted.
Use of the plant is contraindicated in pregnancy, during lactation or with infants due to the small amount of cardiac glycosides.
Russian Sage (Perovskia atiplicifolia)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (/pəˈrɒvskiə ætrɪplɪsɪˈfoʊliə/), commonly called Russian sage, is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant and subshrub. Although not a member of Salvia, the genus of other plants commonly called sage, it is closely related to them.
It has an upright habit, typically reaching 0.5–1.2 m tall (1.6–3.9 ft), with square stems and grey-green leaves that yield a distinctive odor when crushed. It is best known for its flowers.
Its flowering season extends from mid-summer to late October, with blue to violet blossoms arranged into showy, branched panicles.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.
It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea”.
The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning “flower”. Rosemary has a fibrous root system.
Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Crassulaceae, members of which are commonly known as stonecrops.
The genus has been described as containing up to 600 species of leaf succulents that are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, varying from annual and creeping herbs to shrubs.
The plants have water-storing leaves. The flowers usually have five petals, seldom four or six. There are typically twice as many stamens as petals.
A number of species formerly classified as Sedum are now the separate genus Hylotelephium.
Colorful and super tough, ‘Ruby Star’ from Monrovia nurseries has large pinkish-purple blooms with pronounced coppery centers.
The plant grows 2-feet tall; the flowers are 4 inches across. Among the many showy hybrids are ‘Orange Meadowbrite’, butter-yellow ‘Sunrise’, and reddish-orange ‘Sundown’.
Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae.
They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region.
The genus includes both herbaceous plants and shrubs growing to 0.5–2 m (1.6–6.6 ft) tall. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas. The generic name originated in Late Latin, where it refers to the unrelated Viburnum lantana.
Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets.
Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored.
“Wild lantanas” are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called “sand-verbenas”.
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