Garden Tips

10 Native Perennials for a Drought-resistant Garden

From Northern Roots

As these sun-soaked August days lead into September, it’s a great time to consider your fall planting projects. Whether filling a few gaps in existing beds or creating new gardens, these drought-tolerant perennials will thrive and adapt to the challenges of a changing climate on our landscape.

For sunny spots…

Anaphalis margaritacea – Photo taken at the Herb Garden

Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is the perfect plant for sandy or rocky soils. It produces clusters of button-like white flowers from mid-to-late summer. They also make excellent cut flowers. This perennial can fill large dry areas where other species struggle and may be too vigorous for small spaces.

Asclepias tuberosa – Photo taken at the Herb Garden

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another stunning bloom that is a favourite of our native pollinators. The most well-behaved of the milkweeds and one of the latest to emerge in the spring. Butterfly milkweed is shrub-like once established with showy orange flowers from mid-to-late summer.

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a classic late-season bloom. Easily weathering our local climate and producing a punch of purple flowers in the fall. These late-season blooms are also an important nectar source for Monarchs preparing for their migration south. Beautiful in
the garden and a keystone species for our local pollinators.

Big Bluestem (Adropogon gerardi) is a fantastic drought-tolerant native grass. Add structure to your garden and stunning fall colour with this sun-loving perennial. Its extensive root system can reach 8 feet in depth. Big Bluestem is an ideal candidate for dry, sunny slopes and can reduce or prevent soil erosion.

For partly shady spots…

Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a classic. For a good reason, they have reliable and recognizable blooms from mid-to-late summer. These sunny blooms will tolerate part-shade and our long, hot summer days.

Monarda fistulosa – Photo taken at the Herb Garden

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is one of our favourites. A beautiful and beneficial flower that doesn’t take itself too seriously with its unique soft pink or lavender blooms. Also known as beebalm, this perennial takes two seasons to establish before producing prolific flowers from mid-late summer. A favourite of local pollinators and tea lovers, leaves can be harvested and steeped fresh or dry.

Smooth Blue Aster (Aster laevis) is another fall favourite well-suited for partly sunny spots. Numerous soft, blue flower clusters offer a show from late summer through fall. Tolerant of dry conditions and able to adapt to most soil conditions. Smooth Blue Aster is another essential food source for local pollinators late in the season.

For shady spots…

Canadian Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) thrives in shady spots and dry woodland gardens. A beautiful spring bloom provides an essential nectar source for our early emerging pollinators. They take up to two years to establish before the classic red and yellow flowers provide their splash of colour in the early season.

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a unique groundcover for shady spots with a surprise beneath its heart-shaped foliage. In the early spring, a small purple or brown flower hides at the base of this unique plant. Wild ginger provides lush green groundcover in shady spots, and its unique flower is a fun find in the early spring.

Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus histrix) is a woodland grass ideal for dry and shady spots. Its bristly seed head resembles a bottlebrush and attracts songbirds, providing a protein-rich food source. Flowering from mid-to-late summer, they add a beautiful texture to woodland gardens.
Bottlebrush grass is clump-forming and generally well-behaved but will tend to fill in large bare areas. It’s best to plant alongside other shade-tolerant native plants.
With so many amazing native plants, these are just a few of our top picks for a stunning drought-resistant garden. Grow wild with these native perennials and watch your garden thrive through our summers’ driest and hottest days!

Check out The Herb Garden online store to see the native plants we have available for your fall planting projects. Orders can be placed throughout the week and picked up each Thursday while quantities last.