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Got drought?

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Learn about drought tolerant perennials.

Contributors: Susan Martin

Fruit Punch 'Apple Slice'It’s a common reality these days.  Our summers seem like they get hotter and drier each year, don’t they?  Yet we still want to have beautiful, colorful plants in our gardens and containers despite the increasingly harsh growing conditions.  With this reality in mind, this year the plant inventors at Proven Winners have developed new perennials that are guaranteed to thrive in your hot, dry landscape.

To kick summer off to a colorful start, there’s the new Fruit Punch series of Pinks or Dianthus which bloom in early summer and often again in early fall.  Most varieties of Pinks have single flowers in shades of pink, red, or white.  What makes the new Fruit Punch series different is that all four varieties in this series have double flowers, meaning  they have at least twice the number of petals as the single flowered types.  The bigger flowers deliver powerful color impact in the landscape and are adorable in fresh bouquets. 

Fruit Punch ‘Apple Slice’ (photo, upper left) has picotee patterned, pink and red flowers which dance above the short mound of blue-green foliage. Fruit Punch ‘Coconut Punch’ (photo, below left) has the largest flowers and longest flower stems of the bunch.  They look like mini carnations, fluffy white flowers with deep red edges.  Be sure to cut a few of the darling blossoms for your fresh posies as they’ll last several days in water.  Set the vase on a table that’s at nose-level, on a nightstand perhaps, to take advantage of their notably sweet and spicy fragrance.

Like most Pinks, the foliage of the Fruit Punch series forms a short, spreading, weed suppressing patch.  It ranges from blue-green to grey-green in color and is evergreen so it won’t leave an empty space in your garden come winter.   Once the flowers are done blooming, simply take a pair of shears and trim the flower stems all the way back down to the top of the foliage.  This will keep the plant looking tidy for the rest of the season. 

Pinks are very easy to grow in the landscape, thriving through the heat of summer and powering through dry spells with just a bit of water now and then.  They perform best in loose, sandy or loamy soils that have very good drainage (water retentive soils encourage the plants to rot).  Pinks will grow and bloom in both full sun and partial shade, though they bloom heavier in more sun.   They are hardy in zones 4-9.

Now that we’ve got early summer covered, let’s talk about a new perennial that will add some joy—literally—to your garden in late summer and fall.  It’s called ‘Pure Joy’, a petite new Stonecrop or Sedum for your containers and the front of your border. This plant is extremely hardy, zone 3-9.

You’ve probably grown taller Sedum varieties like ‘Maestro’ and ‘Autumn Joy’ before, so you already know  are super low maintenance perennials that shrug off heat and drought with ease.  ‘Pure Joy’ shares these admirable attributes, just in a shorter package. 

When it comes up in the spring, ‘Pure Joy’ forms a small, rounded ball of tiny, blue-green leaves.  You may not even notice it early in the season when larger, earlier blooming perennials like peonies and daisies are in their prime.  That’s ok—one of the most beautiful things about a perennial garden is the transitions it makes from season to season.  Later in summer, you won’t miss ‘Pure Joy’.

At the height of summer, you’ll notice that ‘Pure Joy’  (photo, left) is getting ready for its grand performance as it busily sets buds all over the top of the plant which now stands just under a foot tall.  Then, in late summer and fall when most other perennials are past their prime, this plant comes into its own and is the star of your containers and landscape.  Its bubblegum pink, star-shaped flowers completely cover every inch of foliage, becoming a rounded ball of color in your containers or blanket of color in the landscape.  As the flowers age, deeper pink seed heads develop which will persist into fall and winter.  If you’re like me, you’ll wonder how you could have missed this plant in the garden earlier in the year!   

And there you have it—two incredible new perennials to help you beat the heat and drought this summer.  If you’d like even more choices of heat and drought tolerant Proven Winners® Perennials for your landscape, take a look at the list below.

You can have beautiful, colorful plants in your garden this summer that won’t require much maintenance at all.  So plant some Dianthus and Sedum and then head in for some cold lemonade.  These tough beauties can fend for themselves!

These Proven Winners® Perennials can take the heat!

These Proven Winners® Perennials fight through the drought!

FRUIT PUNCH 'Apple Slice' Dianthus hybrid PP: 21842; FRUIT PUNCH 'Coconut Punch' Dianthus hybrid PP: 21876; FRUIT PUNCH 'Black Cherry Wild' Dianthus hybrid PP: 21893; FRUIT PUNCH 'Pomegranate Kiss' Dianthus hybrid PP: 21895; 'Pure Joy' Sedum hybrid PPAF Can. PBRAF; 'Maestro' Sedum (Hylotelephium) hybrid PP: 20094; Decadence 'Blueberry Sundae' Baptisia hybrid PPAF Can. PBRAF; Decadence 'Dutch Chocolate' Baptisia hybrid PPAF Can. PBRAF; Decadence 'Lemon Meringue' Baptisia hybrid PPAF Can. PBRAF; Summerific 'Berrylicious' Hibiscus hybrid PPAF Can. PBRAF; Lemon Drop® Oenothera 'Innoeno131' PP: 16393 Can. Can.: 2534; 'Cheyenne Sky' Panicum virgatum PP: 23209; 'Desert Plains' Pennisetum alopecuroides PP: 20751;

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