Drought tolerant annual flowers that bloom from spring to fall

Annual flowers grow 6 to 48 inches tall, providing many options in a landscape design project. As homeowners, we appreciate the value that flowers give to our home, such as increased curb appeal. Annual flowers cost less than perennials since they grow for only one season. However, some annual flowers, like sweet alyssum, drop seeds that grow the following spring. Sweet alyssum is my favorite, not just because it self-seeds, but because it smells great and it handles drought well. Below are annual flowers that bloom from spring to fall and do well in drought conditions according to Erv Evans at the North Carolina State University’s Cooperation Extension Service.

Shown above is a winding border of sweet alyssum planted in front of evergreen foundation shrubs. The red flowers are impatiens, which are a shade-loving plant. Though this is a sunny location, the impatiens thrive in the shade created by the shrubs. Planting shade flowers in the shade of taller plants is one way to incorporate shade plants in a sunny location. The taller plants should provide shade from the higher heat of late afternoon.

Annual flowers less than 1 foot tall
Verbena by Goldy, Wikimedia Commons
Short plants serve as borders or to fill spaces between other plants. My favorite short annual flower that blooms from spring to fall is sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima). Though said to have a low tolerance from drought, I find quite the opposite to be true. Sweet alyssum, which is available with red, white or purple flowers, thrived during high heat and little water periods. Other low growing annual flowers that tolerate some drought are verbena (Verbena x hybrida) with flowers of blue, pink, apricot, white or red; and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) with flowers of white, pink, purple, or red. Plant alyssum, verbena, or vinca (also called periwinkle) in full sun to partial shade.

12 to 24 Inch annual flowers
Nasturtium by Rameshng, Wikimedia Commons
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) offers bright colored daisy-like blooms in red, white, yellow, or orange. A dense row of marigolds (Tagetes erecta, T. patula) with its autumnal colors of gold or mixtures of orange, red or brown can help to keep rabbits away. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) petite flowers may be orange, pink, yellow, white, or red. Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) produces ball-shaped blooms of orange, pink, or purple. Zinnia and marigolds grow in full sun. Nasturtium and globe amaranth grow in full sun to partial shade. All these flowers have a moderate to high tolerance level for drought. 
Zinnia by Pan Krzyżówka, Wikimedia Commons


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