Which Kinds of Flowering Plants Need Little Water?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2019
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Many gardeners seek to establish gardens of flowering plants which require little water. In addition to demanding less work from the gardener, this also helps to conserve water, which is an excellent environmental practice. In some regions, cities enact water restrictions during the dry months out of concern about water supplies. Establishing a garden of flowering plants which do not have high water demands will ensure that the garden stays beautiful and inviting throughout the summer months, even with minimal water.

One of the biggest problems gardeners face with flowering plants that have low watering requirements is the tendency to coddle the plants too much. Most drought tolerant plants prefer to be watered rarely and minimally, and they enjoy poor soil conditions, although good drainage is necessary. High quality mulch and compost are usually wasted on these plants, as are attempts to build up rich soil. In most cases, the plants flourish best when left largely alone.

There are a wide range of flowering plants which thrive in low water conditions. Gardeners can create a Southwestern garden with cacti and succulents, cultivate a riot of colorful flowers in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, or create a modern version of an old fashioned garden with a few non-conventional flowers. The imagination of the gardener is the only limit.


A number of annual flowers are drought tolerant. These flowers can sometimes be coaxed to come back again, assuming that the winter is not heavily frosted, and they appreciate being cut back deeply to the soil. Annual plants with low water needs include: cosmos, periwinkle, gazania, snap dragon, alyssum, California poppies, Dahlberg daisies, petunias, statice, verbena, salvia, globe amaranth, foxglove, dusty miller, marigold, nasturtium, zinnia, sunflower, geranium, calendula, and cockscomb.

Perennials will return year after year if they are well cared for and the weather is temperate. Some good choices of annual flowering plants include: day lily, coneflowers, stonecrop, columbine, shasta daisy, gerbera daisy, bluebeard, chrysanthemum, baby's breath, yarrow, salvia, lamb's ears, hosta, goldenrod, bee balm, and black-eyed susans. Many ornamental grasses are also perennials, and they can add color and texture to a low water garden.

A number of bushes or shrubs are also well suited to low water gardens. Many of them have beautiful, sweet smelling flowers, and some of them can be trained to climb as vines. These flowering plants include: forsythia, butterfly bush, boxwood, camellia, dogwood, yew, honeysuckle, gardenia, jasmine, lavender, privet, pittosporum, azalea, mock orange, lilac, flowering quince, and currants.


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Post 3

sweet potato vines-- looks great, needs nothing, grows like crazy!

Post 2

I have two flower beds under magnolia trees in Houston TX and cannot get anything to grow there. Any ideas on what type of flowering, low plants I could use?

Post 1

Geraniums are rather sturdy, and can bounce back even after a severe shortage of water. Azalea have a special requirement though, they do better in a more acidic soil.

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