Updated date:

Drought-Tolerant Ground Covers With Showy Flowers

Jill likes cooking, writing, painting, & stewardship, and studies gardening through MD Master Gardener & Master Naturalist programs.

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.

Oenothera Berlander 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.

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 hand pick beetles from its blossoms, which they love to munch.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

Homestead Purple Verbena

Homestead Purple Verbena

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.

pretty-drought-tolerant-ground-covers

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.

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.

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.

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.

How to Grow & 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(blackeyed Susan) or Shasta daisies.

In the fall, after the first hard frost, mow or cut coreopsis down to about two inches in height and apply a light layer of mulch.

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

Delosperma (The Hardy Ice Plant)

Full Sun, Zones 5-11

Delosperma, the hardy ice plant, is a succulent ground cover that blooms from spring into fall. In Zones 9-11, delosperma will produce flowers all year long.

Delosperma's cheerful flowers, which open as the sun rises and close at night, come in a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, red, purple and pink.

Delosperma grows well in poor soil and requires virtually no maintenance. It's also drought tolerant, fire retardant, and easy to propagate.

How to Care for Delosperma

Learn more about growing and caring for Delosperma.

The hardy purple ice plant, Delosperma cooperi, is a pretty hot pink ground cover.

The hardy purple ice plant, Delosperma cooperi, is a pretty hot pink ground cover.

Salvia Sonomensis

Creeping sage in the fall as the flowerheads begin to go to seed

Creeping sage in the fall as the flowerheads begin to go to seed

Salvia Sonomensis (Creeping Sage)

Full to Partial Sun, Zones 7-10

Salvia sonomensis (creeping sage) is a perennial ground cover native to California. It grows best in well-drained, sandy soil in full sun or partial shade.

Creeping sage is a good ground cover choice for hillsides or those bare spots under shade trees. It's also a nice addition to the nature lover's garden, attracting birds, bees, and butterflies.

A creeping sage blossom

A creeping sage blossom

In spring and summer, S. sonomensis's flowers draw butterflies and bees. In the fall, it produces seeds that birds like to eat.

Creeping sage is also low maintenance. Once it's established, it's a vigorous grower. It can spread up to ten feet across, creating broad swathes of color from May through June when it produces six-inch spikes of violet flowers.

The foliage itself is a gray-green that grows anywhere from a foot to two feet tall. In the fall, if drainage is good and the weather dry, leave creeping sage as it is for the birds to enjoy. For a neater look, clip off the flower stalks in the fall. "Cleaning up" will also reduce the likelihood of fungus, which creeping sage can develop during wet weather if drainage is poor.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou 'Pink' can be very invasive. I've been recommended not to plant it. How do I prevent my neighbors from being unhappy with my planting Oenothera berlanderi siskiyou?

Answer: When I purchased ours, a woman actually stopped me in the store and warned me about it; however, I haven't had an issue with it or problems with the neighbors regarding it. The patch I have now is very small because I rearranged our beds again, but when we were growing a 3 x 5 patch of it, someone driving through the neighborhood saw the swathe of pink blooms from the street, stopped, and asked me for some. I dug up a pot-full and obliged.

© 2012 Jill Spencer

Comments

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on January 09, 2018:

Thanks for commenting on this hub, Patricia. Your comment prompted me to do some editing to meet the new standards. Now all my pics are full-width. Thanks again! Jill

Patricia Scott. pstraubie48 on January 08, 2018:

Lots of choices. And my questions answered. I was looking for drought resistant as well as lively. Thanks for sharing. Angels are on the way. ps

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 03, 2012:

Thanks so much, Dolores--for sharing and for commenting. You know, I should have mentioned Alyssum's scent! Another great reason to grow it. Take care, Jill

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 03, 2012:

Whoops, I just accidentally erased my comment. Anyway, I love the Alyssum and think it smells like honey. Last year I had some growing in a pot by the front door so when you came to the door, you'd smell honey! Your pictures are awesome! Voted up and tweeted!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 06, 2012:

Thanks, prasetio30! Appreciate the feedback. Take care, The Dirt Farmer

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 06, 2012:

These are beautiful flowers. I learn many new things about another beautiful flowers here. Nice pictures and I really enjoy it. Thanks for posting and share with us. Voted up :-)

Prasetio

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 05, 2012:

Wow, Beelady, it REALLY must be wet there. Just came in from watering the tomatoes, wishing we'd get a good, long rain shower. Glad you enjoyed the hub. Happy gardening! The Dirt Farmer

Beelady on July 05, 2012:

I can only look on in complete envy here - living as I do in a very wet part of the world that appears to be enjoying an even wetter summer than usual! Your lovely pictures have cheered me up no end, thanks.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 04, 2012:

@ prasetio30-- Nice to meet a fellow gardener. Thanks for your kind comments & your vote! Glad you stopped by. Take care, The Dirt Farmer

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 04, 2012:

I love gardening and flowers as well. I really enjoy your tips. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up :-)

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 03, 2012:

@ rebeccamealey -- Hey, Rebecca! I like the ice plant, too, and have added a yellow one into our beds. Hope you get rain soon! Take it easy, The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 03, 2012:

@ iefox5 -- Crazy, huh? They look so delicate, but they're TOUGH! Glad you commented. Thanks for stopping by!

iefox5 on July 02, 2012:

Very beautiful flowers! I never know so many flowers may survive under such bad situation, thanks so much for letting me know this, voted as awesome.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Thanks, jcpm! Glad you stopped by and commented. (:

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 02, 2012:

Isn't it good to know that we have such tolerant and beautiful ground covers? I have been nursing my babies through this awful heat wave all week. I love that Purple Ice plant. It is a bit unusual to me. I have heard of most of the others. Congratulations! Well deserved!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on July 02, 2012:

Such a wonderful hub. I love gardening and this is really full of important info. Congratulations on the HOTD.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

So true, thoughtfulgirl2! If a plant needs lots of work on the gardener's part in order to survive, it's most likely in the wrong place! Thanks for commenting. --The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ dreamer18 & urmilashukla23-- Thanks for your nice comments! Glad you stopped by. (:

thoughtfulgirl2 on July 02, 2012:

Good hub, It's nice to see the unsung heroes of the plant kingdom, many of them hailing from the states being used in drought tolerant gardens. Put the appropriate plant in the ideal conditions and you will have to do very little to help it for it's survival.:)

dreamer18 from San Diego, CA on July 02, 2012:

Congrats on Hub of the day award! Awesome hub.

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on July 02, 2012:

So colorful, informative and great hub. Congratulations on winning Hub of the day award. You totally deserved it.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Hello Hui! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your kind words. --The Dirt Farmer

Hui (蕙) on July 02, 2012:

Beautiful flowers, beautiful hub, and beautiful care!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Thanks, Thelma Alberts! Appreciate your comments. Glad you stopped by. --The Dirt Farmer

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on July 02, 2012:

Beautiful! Congrats on winning the HOTD. Very informative hub and great photos. Thanks for sharing.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ ohic32-- Asylum, alyssum.... No worries! We all knew what you meant. (: (Besides, asylum would be a really good name for a plant--one you'd grow in in arbor.)

Althea Reader from Jamaica on July 02, 2012:

I typed the word asylum DWL. Oh my goodness. That is beyond a typo.

My bad. May the flower and author forgive me.

Alyssum

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ Lucky Cats -- "Benign neglect" LOL! That's about right--definitely my gardening style. There's just so much to do! Hope you get some rain soon so you can put down that watering can. Take it easy, Jill

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Thanks, randomcreative! Great to hear from you. Glad you stopped by.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

ComfortB, you definitely need some of these ground covers in Georgia to make a pretty state even prettier! Thanks for stopping by, The Dirt Farmer

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on July 02, 2012:

Very informative hub, Dirt Farmer. I find myself watering almost every day and this is disconcerting. I love several of the examples you've shared; which need little water and seem to thrive under benign neglect (lo)...as well as being quite beautiful. Desert Primrose springs forth in SE Kansas like crazy. I was astounded when I first saw it while living there; specially after I'd spent many seasons purchasing it at the local nursery.

Thank you! Voted UP Useful Interesting and Awesome!

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 02, 2012:

These are so pretty, but I haven't seen much of these around here in Georgia. It'll be nice to have a couple of these in my garden. Thanks for sharing.

Congrats on winning the HOTD award!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ ohic32 -- Glad you liked the photos! I've really been working on trying to improve my photography. If you did plant alyssum, it might have gotten a bit shaggy when the weather got hot and dry. You can trim it back to promote blooming, but ... I never have. I like the "drifty" way it looks. It sort of gets crispy and tan in places, like a dried flower, and keeps on blooming anyway.

Really glad you stopped by and commented, ohic32! All the best, The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ Maren Morgan M-T--Hey, HubBud! Thanks for stopping by!

Oenothera biennis is a yellow evening primrose. Not sure if there are others, but ... there probably are. I've seen white as well as pale pink California evening primroses (Oenothera californica) with yellow centers. The Oenothera berlander Siskiyou 'Pink' that's featured above is a particularly drought tolerant variety of the wildflower. Take care, Jill

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ kumar24894 -- Hey, Kumar! Thanks for the vote. (:

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Hi DeborahNeyens. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Enjoyed your hub on cooking tasty greens--not an easy thing to do (while still keeping it healthy). Take it easy, The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Thanks, RTalloni! Appreciate it. --Jill

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 02, 2012:

Great topic for a hub! I love all of the photos and detailed information. Congrats on getting HOTD!

Althea Reader from Jamaica on July 02, 2012:

Hub of the week (as far as I am concerned). Those blooms had me weak.

I had a flower once which looks like the asylum, but I really do not remember if that was the name on the packet. It does well in heat, but still needs to be tended to if it is too hot and dry.

Those little plants had surprised me with their resilience. Lovely lovely hub. Congrats on your Hub of the Day status. So well deserved.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ Jeff Gamble-- What great choices! I bet your landscape looks pretty--not an easy task there, I'm sure. I moved to Dallas once during the middle of a drought. Just about everything looked dead except for the mesquite, and there were grasshoppers everywhere! Here in MD, a lot of people plant coreopsis in naturalized areas at the edges of their property and along the roadways in front of their houses. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jeff. Take care, The Dirt Farmer

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on July 02, 2012:

Congratulations on receiving Hub of the Day with this one. I can tell how much you love these flowers because all the photos are yours! DO the evening or desert primroses have a bright yellow variety? I have a mystery yellow flower, about 1 foot tall, which does well in drought and spreads nicely. I'd like to know what it is.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Hey mary615-- Always good to hear from you! We just had a big ol' thunderstorm last night. (So glad!) Of course, it's supposed to hit nearly 100 again today, so ... I'll enjoy the damp coolness while I can. Glad you visited. Hope you and your impatiens get a good dose of rain soon. Take it easy -- Jill

kumar24894 from Fuck of HUBPAGES on July 02, 2012:

Vote up !

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ nancynurse -- A lake home! How wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Have fun! --The Dirt Farmer

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on July 02, 2012:

Thanks for the great information and congratulations on Hub of the Day.

RTalloni on July 02, 2012:

Just coming back by to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award!

Jeff Gamble from Denton, Texas on July 02, 2012:

Terrific Hub, we use primrose and tick weed in our hard to manage areas. Even is the driest and hottest of Texas summers, they tend to survive well and need little assistance

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 02, 2012:

I just had to come back and say: Congrats on the HOTD. I knew it was a great Hub when I first read it!

Good old S. Florida...first we have drought, then we have too much rain. Right now I wish I had some of these beauties on your Hub. My Impatiens need water right now. They are such a thirsty plant.

My best...

Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on July 02, 2012:

Thanks for your Great hub. We have pink primrose and my daughter gave them a nick name after a friend because of how easy going they grow. Good chose for drought tolerant, easy care flower. We are getting ready to move some to our lake home . Verbena is our go to flower for the lake right now. The dear love so many things. It is great to have more choices. Great article.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ Arren123 -- Thanks for the positive feedback & the votes. Appreciate it!

Arren123 from UK on July 02, 2012:

Beautiful hub, love the photos, great info too, voted up and beautiful :)

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ honeybee2u-Thanks for the vote & the kind words! Glad you stopped by. (:

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

I love the desert primrose, too, ktrapp. It looks so dainty, but it's super tough--and it really spreads, adding a nice pop of color to the landscape. Thanks for commenting! --The Dirt Farmer

honeybee2u from PNG on July 02, 2012:

This hub is wonderfully written and the layout is great. The content is king. Voted up! Thank you for sharing this information.

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on July 02, 2012:

I love plants that continue to bloom throughout the season, but adding flowering ground covers to my garden never occurred to me. The pink evening primrose is really beautiful. And how interesting is the hardy ice plant? I have never even heard of that before. Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Hi Kumar24894! Thanks for your kind words regarding the pictures. I use a Canon Rebel xti. Hoping eventually to get a few extras to go with it, too, like a special lens for close-ups. Take care, The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

Hey sofs! Thanks for reading & commenting. These plants really are drought tolerant. Hope you find what you're looking for at the garden center! -- The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2012:

@ davenmidtown--So happy to have HOTD! The top pic was my favorite shot, too. Thanks!

kumar24894 from Fuck of HUBPAGES on July 02, 2012:

Wow ! The picture are so beautiful and clear . Which camera did you used ?

Sophie on July 02, 2012:

These are indeed pretty ground covers and you say drought tolerant too.. I wish we had some of these here... I may have to check in the nursery for Sweet alyssum and delosperma . Thanks for sharing and Congrats on the HOTD :)

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on July 02, 2012:

The Dirt Farmer: I would like to be the first to say... Congratulations on HUB of THE DAY. This is a beautiful hub both in writing and in photography. Your photography skills have grown a great deal and it shows clearly in your writing! The opening photograph in this hub is Magazine quality!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 01, 2012:

@ tobusiness--Thanks for the positive feedback! I'd read that most of the UK was experiencing drought-like conditions after two dry winters. Are these plants popular where you live? I bet coreopsis and desert primrose would grow well there.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on July 01, 2012:

Lots of useful information here, the images are beautiful. Voting up.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 30, 2012:

@ RTalloni--It sure does seem like this summer's going to be a nonstop scorcher! I hope this hub does help people keep their gardens pretty despite the hot, dry weather. Thanks for commenting. (: --Jill

RTalloni on June 30, 2012:

A super look at these drought tolerant plants. They are very beneficial and quite beautiful! If today's temps are an indication of what the summer holds, this will be helpful to many people.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 30, 2012:

@ InglenookObserver--It's hot & dry here in MD too! I can't imagine how hot July is going to be. Hope you find what you're looking for in the gardening center. You might want to try creeping thyme, too. Although its flowers aren't as showy as the plants above, it's drought tolerant too. Our big patch of it hasn't flagged once, & we never water it. Take care! The Dirt Farmer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 30, 2012:

Hi sgbrown. Hope these varieties work for you. They're all plants that I'm growing in our garden, so I know from experience--irrespective of what gardening catalogs claim--that they really do survive well under hot, dry conditions. Right now the sweet alyssum, evening primrose, coreopsis and verbena look best. (I had to give the ice plants a little water yesterday morning, but not much.) All the best! The Dirt Farmer

InglenookObserver from Southwestern Wisconsin on June 30, 2012:

This is really what we need to learn. Right now, we don't have to mow in southwestern Wisconsin - even the weeds aren't growing. I am going to see if the garden store is selling them already growing.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on June 30, 2012:

I am going to have to try some of the flowers you have shown us here. It has been 98-102 already here in Southern Oklahoma and no rain in sight. The flowers I have growing are struggling. I would love to add these heat tolerant varieties. Thank you for sharing your information. Voted up, useful and sharing on my blog. Have a wonderful day!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 29, 2012:

Hey davenmidtown! Great to hear from you. Sorry to hear you're dealing with drought too. As of today, our rain barrels are officially empty. How I hope it rains soon! Thanks for the feedback. --Jill

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 29, 2012:

Glad the hub was helpful to you, Mary. It's been super hot and dry here, too. No rain to speak of for weeks and over 90 every day. The verbena and the primrose particularly astound me with their hardiness. They don't even wilt! Stay cool! --Jill

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 29, 2012:

I really leaned a lot from this Hub. Here in S. Fl. we have really dry spells and I hate to use water to keep them alive. Thanks for all this good info.

I voted this UP, etc.etc.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on June 29, 2012:

The Dirt Farmer: This is really a beautiful hub. It is wonderfully written for both the novice and the master gardener. I love the layout of the photos and how the article flows. It is a proper tool for those of us dealing with drought.... voted up and very awesome