Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ in sun


There are so many heat and drought tolerant perennials and ornamental grasses that it’s hard to decide which few to bring to your attention. Who would think that Heuchera (Alumroot) fit into this category but the ones that have H.villosa heritage can take their place in the sun or the shade. I have been growing them in my garden for several years and these cultivars are rugged. They increase in size more quickly with average moisture but they still thrive in heat and drought. Even better, they are not bothered by deer.


Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ in shade


Most of these cultivars have white flowers that bloom in the fall and many have stunning foliage twelve months of the year. Talk about workhorses! After a few years, a clump is usually 18” wide but only 4” high until it blooms and even then, the bloom stalks will only be 12-18” tall. The ones that I use the most in my designs are ‘Georgia Peach’,

Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ in 2011. It did bleach in the sun this year to almost lime green



‘Southern Comfort’, and ‘Autumn Bride’ .

Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ in bloom in dry shade.










Amsonia hubrichtii on the Swarthmore campus


I love Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas Blue Star), the 2011 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. It performs best in full sun and well-drained, average to moist soil but thumbs its nose at adverse conditions.  Several years ago, I saw it as a bushy mass in mid-July on a Philadelphia campus when the area was in the midst of a long, dry, hot summer.

Amsonia hubrichtii flower cluster


Clusters of pale blue, star-shaped flowers bloom in June but this plant comes into its full glory in the fall


Amsonia ‘Halfway to Arkansas’ fall foliage


when the feathery foliage turns a brilliant golden yellow. Maintenance is minimal. Its 3’ stems never need staking and I merely cut back the old foliage to the base in early spring if it hasn’t fallen to the ground, in which case I leave it there as a natural mulch. A slow spreader, division will not be necessary for many years. Happily, it, too, is deer-resistant.

Don’t despair because it’s hot and there’s no rain. Choose plants that glory in this weather and your gardens will take on new life.


Crambe cordifolia (Giant Seakale)

Eryngium planum (Sea Holly)