Common lilacs make great water-saving flowers for your garden Photo © Birute Vijeikiene \

With summer’s intense heat and family vacation season on the way, chances are your garden is going to be neglected at one point or another. As a result, more gardeners are choosing to xeriscape, which means planting a water-efficient garden. It requires a little homework to select plants that are drought tolerant, but it is worth the effort. Here are five of my favourite plants that can handle some neglect over the summer — perfect for a xeriscape garden.

Calendula flower  © margo555 - Fotolia


Also known as a pot marigold, this aromatic annual tolerates drought and heat and loves full to partial sun. It grows to approximately 46 cm tall and flowers from July to the first hard frost. Its relatively wide flower head (4-7 cm), and colour options — from bright yellow to deep orange — make it a staple for water-conscious gardeners.

Oriental poppyOriental poppy

This unique perennial plant, although not native to Canada, is well known for its drought tolerance. After flowering, the plant’s leaves wither away in the hot dry sun and reemerge in the fall. It grows 30-120 cm high and prefers full sun but can handle some light shade. Flowering from June to July in colours from white to pink to deep maroon, depending on the cultivar, it makes an excellent addition to any garden. Hardy to zone 4.

Purple coneflowerPurple coneflower

In the Echinacea family and native to Canada, this herb and its purple coneflowers, as the name suggests, serves double duty in the garden. Besides being fairly drought tolerant, it also provides some important immune system–boosting medicinal properties. If deadheaded after the first flowers mature, it will flower from July to September. Purple coneflower thrives in sunny dry spots and also tolerates shade. Hardy to zone 4.

Common lilacCommon or Chinese lilac

This large deciduous shrub is often mistaken for a tree as it can grow 6-7m high. Its fragrant flower clusters are great for cutting fresh. Lilacs are available in colours ranging from white to dark purple and are very drought-tolerant. Once established, lilacs require very little work besides some optional deadheading and pruning to keep to size. Common lilac grows more quickly than Chinese lilac but the latter does not sucker. Hardy to zone 3.

Rose of SharonRose of Sharon

The wide colour selection makes this a favourite of gardeners in Canada up to zone 4. Flowers can be white, blue, pink and some varieties combine two colours. This plant can grow virtually anywhere and is drought tolerant. Rose of Sharon blooms late, starting in August, but will bloom all the way into the first hard frost. It can grow up to 3 m tall in sunny to part-shade locations and will require light pruning now and then to keep it to the desired size.

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