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Drought-Tolerant Ground Covers With Showy Flowers

Jill enjoys cooking, abstract painting, stewardship, & learning about gardening through the MD Native Plant Society.

Need to cover some dry, poor soil in your yard? Try coreopsis or one of these other flowering ground covers!

Need to cover some dry, poor soil in your yard? Try coreopsis or one of these other flowering ground covers!

6 Beautiful Ground Covers for Dry Soil

If the soil in your area is dry and poor, consider planting one of these drought-tolerant ground covers. They can all withstand dry conditions, and their showy flowers will add color and texture to your yard.

  1. Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' (Pink Evening Primrose)
  2. Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple'
  3. Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
  4. Coreopsis (Tickweed)
  5. Delosperma (Hardy Ice Plant)
  6. Salvia sonomensis (Creeping Sage)
This patch of primrose started on its own, "jumping" from a stacked container garden into a nearby flowerbed.

This patch of primrose started on its own, "jumping" from a stacked container garden into a nearby flowerbed.

1. Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' (Pink Evening Primrose)

Full Sun, Zones 5-9

Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' is a super drought-tolerant evening primrose that produces a plethora of pale pink flowers that appear luminous in the sun. A wildflower native to North America, 'Pink' is also called evening primrose, sundrops, Mexican primrose, and desert primrose.

Because it spreads rapidly, blooms profusely and requires little care, Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou is perfect as a ground cover or in a rock garden.

Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' is ultra hardy despite its delicate appearance.

Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' is ultra hardy despite its delicate appearance.

How to Sow Pink Evening Primrose

For optimal results, sow 'Pink' seeds in well-drained, slightly acidic or sandy soil in early spring or fall, and be sure to choose a sunny locale. It will reseed yearly on its own.

How to Care for Pink Evening Primrose

To keep Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' looking pretty, pinch off spent flowers periodically. 'Pink' will bloom heavily from May through July and sporadically through October.

If your area is prone to Japanese beetles, you may have to treat 'Pink' with insecticidal dust or handpick beetles from its blossoms, which they love to munch.

Homestead Purple's flowers are a vibrant, eye-catching lavender.

Homestead Purple's flowers are a vibrant, eye-catching lavender.

2. Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple'

Full or Partial Sun, Zones 6-10

Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple' is a moderately fast-growing creeper that produces showy, purple flowers from late spring into fall. Its stems set roots as they grow along the ground, making 'Homestead Purple' a good plant for erosion control. It spreads up to about three feet and can grow up to a foot high.

In addition to being drought tolerant, Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple' is heat tolerant, and it doesn't mind humidity and salt, which makes it a good ground cover for coastal locations. Although deer tend to avoid Verbena canadensis, butterflies love it.

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Verbena is also known as rose verbena, rose vervain, creeping vervain, and clump verbena.

Homestead Purple Verbena.

Homestead Purple Verbena.

How to Care for 'Homestead Purple' Verbena

'Homestead Purple' prefers full sun and good drainage. Once it's established, 'Homestead Purple' is fairly drought tolerant; however, if the dry spell is a long one, it may require a little watering.

If using as a ground cover, plant individual 'Homestead Purple' plants about a foot apart. In areas with harsh winters, be sure to mulch it in the fall. In areas outside Zones 6-10, treat verbena as an annual in hanging baskets and mixed containers.

Sweet Alyssum.

Sweet Alyssum.

3. Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)

Full Sun to Partial Shade, Zones 7-11

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) produces drifts of dainty, sweet-smelling white flowers from spring into fall. Despite its frilly appearance, however, it's one tough plant.

Sweet alyssum is drought tolerant, frost resistant, and heat resistant, and it grows well in just about any soil.

For best results, plant sweet alyssum in full sun or partial shade. It reaches only 8-12 inches high and makes a pretty ground cover, especially in flowerbeds and along walkways.

Sweet alyssum is an annual; however, it self seeds, so you'll probably only have to plant it once.

Sow dainty sweet alyssum once and enjoy it year after year. Like desert evening primrose, it's a self seeder.

Sow dainty sweet alyssum once and enjoy it year after year. Like desert evening primrose, it's a self seeder.

How to Start Sweet Alyssum from Seed

Sweet alyssum is easy to start from seed.

Sow alyssum in early spring. Because they need light in order to germinate, sweet alyssum seeds should be broadcast on loose soil and sprinkled lightly with more soil. Mist spray periodically if the weather is dry. The seeds will germinate in about 15 days.

Low-growing varieties of coreopsis make great ground covers in dry, poor-soil areas.

Low-growing varieties of coreopsis make great ground covers in dry, poor-soil areas.

4. Coreopsis (Tickweed)

Full Sun, Zones 4-9

Hardy, colorful, and low maintenance, coreopsis (a.k.a. tickweed) is an excellent choice for poor-soil areas along roadways and driveways. Low-growing varieties make excellent ground covers, producing small, daisy-like flowers from late spring into fall--even under hot, dry conditions.

Although most varieties of coreopsis produce yellow flowers, some pink-blooming varieties are also available.

Two low-growing types of coreopsis to try include Moonbeam, which may reach up to a foot in height. The deep pink Mahogany Midget variety of coreopsis is less than a foot tall.

Whether planted in a landscaping island, a flowerbed or along a roadway, tickweed takes the heat and keeps on blooming all summer long

Whether planted in a landscaping island, a flowerbed or along a roadway, tickweed takes the heat and keeps on blooming all summer long

How to Grow and Care for Coreopsis

Plant coreopsis in full sun. It doesn't mind poor soil, so long as it's well-drained.

Coreopsis spreads easily. To keep it healthy, divide patches of it every 2-3 years, just as you would Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) or Shasta daisies.