Over the past several years, I’ve been switching out my annuals and replacing them with perennials that are drought tolerant.
Until I planted a street garden, I had no idea of the beauty and versatility of low water plants. In addition to the amazing array of colors and blossom types, low water flowers produce blooms that seem to last for weeks, even when picked. Bouquets I’ve made from some low water varieties have lasted as long as a month, by periodically pruning the cut stem from time to time.
Their longevity make them ideal for creating live wreaths and memorials. I prefer to use them for Memorial Day decorations, because they last much longer than the traditional irises, peonies and mums most other people use.
Some drought tolerant flowers dry beautifully when hung upside down, and are ideal for making dried arrangements and other craft projects. The pressed flowers can be used to make greeting cards and stationary, creating collages, flowering trays, or pressed into the sides of a wax candle. The more fragrant flowers, such as lavender, are wonderful for making pot pouri.
Low water varieties
There are almost 200 varieties of low watering, flowering plants. These range from ground covers that can be walked on, to plants that can grow as high as 4 feet. Some of the more common lower water varieties seen in my neighborhood include:
Agastache, which is a favorite of bird lovers. This plant comes in shades of pink or coral, and can grow as high as 42 inches. When it’s in bloom, the hummingbirds swarm into our yard to enjoy the nectar rich flowers. These don’t hold well in bouquets and the blossoms will close up within a few hours of picking, but, they press very nicely and will hold their pink color for several months.
Coreopsis or tickseed, is another favorite variety. It’s comes to bloom in early June, with an incredible display of bright yellow blossoms. These plants grow about 24 inches, are self seeding and very prolific. The blossoms last for quite a while in a bouquet, and are a favorite for pressed flower crafting. My daughter likes to paint them with acrylic paint and make pressed “flower” designs on sheets of card stock. Frequent “dead heading” produces multiple blooms in a season.
Dianthus” firewitch” has interesting grass-like foliage in a rich sage, and delicate pink blossoms. The plant grows to a height of 8 inches and is a slow spreader. There are many varieties of dianthus available, but not all are low water tolerant. Dianthus cuttings last a long time and also press nicely.
Salvia and Lavender are two varieties that are very easy to grow. The salvia can grow as high as 36 inches and will spread to a 24 inch bush. It has long, plume like flower in shades of deep blue or pink. Lavender is a wider shrub and reaches heights of 30″. It has an interesting foliage with the lavender blooms growing on the ends of long, leafless stems. Paired with the salvia, the two flowers it make a fragrant and delightful showing of blossoms in the late spring. Both these flowers press nicely, and last quite a while in a bouquet. Hung upside, the lavender will dry beautifully and can be tied up with a ribbon for gift-giving.
Penstemon is a favorite of mine because it reminds me of the colorful flowers that grow in a mountain meadow. These can grow between 24-36 inches in height, and have long spikes of blooms in shades of blue and red. These press easily and add a burst of color to craft projects.
Bachelor Buttons are another old fashioned favorite; the ones growing in my yard were planted from seeds harvested in the hillsides. Bachelor buttons also reach heights of 36 inches and are usually shades of purple and blue. Occasionally a pink blossom will pop up from time to time. This is another flower that presses well and is excellent to use for decorating candles.
Yarrow is a rather common low water flower that is usually found on dry hillsides. It grows to 30 inches in height, and a successful self seeder. It has a fern-like leaf and a blossom that resembles a flat umbrella. Most yarrow is bright yellow, though occasionally I see white. This is one flower that looks fabulous in dried arrangements.
A final plant that I enjoy drying is the Russian Sage. This low water plant reaches heights of 4 feet and has a silver gray foliage with smokey blue flower spikes. Paired with ornamental grasses and Agastache, it makes a terrific midsummer showing of blooms.
These are just a few of hundreds of beautiful low water flowers that are not only great for the environment, but terrific for creating long lasting bouquets, and delicate wildflower crafts.