If you can’t stand the heat, get out the garden! At least that’s how I feel about those perennial herbs and flowers that can’t make it through hot, dry summers. Tender selections are just too time-consuming with all the pampering they need to survive.


The pretty foliage and bright flowers of yarrow bring life to the hot summer garden.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore


A very aggressive grower, Verbena will often burst into bloom right after a summer rain. ‘Homestead Purple’ is a hardy hybrid variety.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Daffodils and Veronica

‘Georgia Blue’ Veronica makes a beautiful blue background to springtime bulbs.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore


‘Provence’ lavender is hardy, fragrant and attractive.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore


A gentle spreader in the shade, ‘Silver Mound’ artemisia provides a silver-gray background to shrubs and annuals.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

If your garden gets hit with drought or extreme heat, don’t panic – you don’t have to let your favorite hobby dry up in the sun. Just try a few of these colorful, hardworking plants instead. Not only can these beauties survive hot, dry summers, they’ll return to thrive when temperatures are more moderate. They’re sure to become a welcome addition to your garden!

Yarrow: Achillea is a group of self-seeding perennials with ferny foliage that can take full sun and grow beautifully year after year. A sun-loving flower, yarrow needs very well-drained soil and is prone to root rot when sunk into clay. Blooms can be cream, yellow, pink or deep red, and the plant’s medium green or gray-green leaves grow during the summer and die back in fall. When the flowers dry, just rub them and allow the flake-like seeds to fall over the ground to reseed for the next year. Cover seeds lightly with soil, water and wait for your plants to return!

Verbena: A fast-growing spreader, Verbena canadensis is a perennial that’s often treated as an annual in areas with hard winters. Once the flowers start to appear in late spring, it blooms profusely through fall. Drought may slow down flower production, but as soon as a good rain falls, the plant bursts back into color! Verbena blooms come in a range of hues, including white, pink, magenta, purple, blue and combinations of these. Plants can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. Some hybrid varieties, like ‘Homestead Purple’, are hardier, and will recover in spring after a mild winter. Plant verbena in partial to full sun, and give it plenty of room to grow – particularly if it’s a hardier variety. The plant will spread and root, then spread more!

Veronica: Commonly known as speedwell, Veronica comes in a wide variety of shapes and habits. Some are groundcovers with small, plentiful blooms, while others reach 2 feet tall and have spikelike flowers. These beautiful blooms can be pink, blue or white, and some varieties can have assorted colors. Veronica can be planted in full sun, and most varieties need moderate water – although some, like Veronica prostrata, need less.

Lavender: Lavender is a lovely herb, and its flowers are used in perfumes, as well as food. There are several species of Lavandula to choose from. Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender) is considered more fragrant and grows well in Mediterranean climates and the like. But in humid regions – specifically in the South, with its clay soil and wet winters – this species can be very challenging to grow. So consider Lavandula x intermedia (lavandin). There are a wide variety of cultivars, including ‘Provence’ and ‘Grosso’. The plants reproduce more faithfully from cuttings than from seeds. As an added bonus, many lavandins are fragrant and not attractive to deer. Just plant in full sun, don’t overwater and enjoy!

Artemisia: Artemisia is a large group of shrubs, perennials and annuals with ornamental foliage generally of silver or glaucous gray. The leaves are aromatic, with many species being toxic (like common wormwood), while a few are edible (like French tarragon or the species distilled into absinthe). In areas of extreme heat, some varieties will thrive in full sun, but others prefer morning light and protection from late afternoon rays. Plant Artemisia in an area that won’t be overwatered. Several varieties, like ‘Silver Mound’, provide a lovely contrast to other colors in the garden.

No matter which selections you choose, all these plants will benefit from well-drained soil, compost and a balanced fertilizer (like a 10-10-10) mixed in. Under the right planting conditions, these beauties are sure to please throughout the hottest months of the year, giving you a gorgeous garden that won’t buckle under any heated pressure!