For hot, dry times.

Dry, hot summers and winters without precipitation, where there is no snow, so plants have no protection against frost: this climate has become increasingly familiar in recent years.

During dry summers, most plants wither and suffer. However, with the right plant selection, you can prevent this from happening! Climate change means that you should grow plants that can withstand extreme conditions. It is worth getting ideas from the vegetation of the North American prairies with a similar climate.

Lindheimer’s beeblossom

Above all, ornamental grasses and drought-loving, robust perennials can be found in prairie gardens. Ideally, half of the plants are ornamental grasses and the rest are flowering perennials; this combination also beautifully highlights the contrasts. Tall ornamental grasses swaying in the wind bring playfulness to the garden.

Blanket flower

Prairie plants tolerate heat and drought well, and are not bothered by winter with little precipitation either. However, you should pay attention to two things. The first is that the soil has good drainage so that the roots do not stand in stagnant water when it rains. The other is to plant ornamental grasses and perennials in a sunny place, because even in their original habitat, they live without shade in the absence of trees. It is best if they get plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Switch grass, photo: Matt Lavin/Flickr

The most beautiful prairie garden plants recommended for planting:

  • Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Lindheimer’s beeblossom (Gaura lindheimeri)
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea)
  • Blazing star (Liatris spicata)
  • Mexican feathergrass (Stipa tenuissima)
  • Wild bergamot or bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis)
  • Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda)
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Golden-beard penstemon (Penstemon barbatus)
  • Blanket flower (Gaillardia)
  • Giant hyssop (Agastache)
  • Switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Reed grass (Calamagrostis)
  • Brazilian vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
  • Camas or quamash (Camassia)
  • Daffodil (Narcissus)
  • Sneezeweed (Helenium)
  • Veronica or speedwell (Veronica)
  • Yarrow (Achillea)
Wild bergamot, photo: NMSU IPM

The prairie garden requires less maintenance and care: watering and fertilizing are hardly necessary. We only need to pay more attention to them in the first year of planting and when the lack of water is severe. The plants will thank you for the care with new flowers and fresh green color.

Butterfly weed

There is no need for continuous pruning of perennials either, we only have to cut back the entire vegetation once, at the end of winter. This does not mean a lot of work, we can do it quickly and easily with a hedge trimmer.

Giant hyssop, photo: Mark/Flickr
Blazing star
Brazilian vervain
Common yarrow