Drought tolerant flowering shrubs


All plants need water to survive. However, like plants that require more water, some plants grow in a lack of water. They are the best drought tolerant plants and can live without water for a long time.

1. Agave

Agaves store water in their thick foliage and send their roots deep below the soil surface to collect the water available. The Leaf has sharp edges. Landscapers often use agaves due to the unusual shape of their foliage, and of course, they are low care and drought tolerant plants.

2. Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is a champion in tolerating the drought. It seems to be one of the toughest shrubs that thrive on neglect in extreme and intense conditions. This colorful plant is easy to grow too.

Also Read: Heat Tolerant Flowers

3. Portulaca

Moss rose, or “Portulaca” is a drought-tolerant flowering plant that thrives in dry, poor soil. Due to its thick succulent leaves, it can survive for a long time without water. It comes in a variety of colors and requires warmth to thrive.

4. Lithops

Lithops are unique stone like succulent plants due to the reason they are also known as “Living stones.” Lithops are suitable houseplants, with very low watering requirements they are easy to keep. Learn how to grow Lithops here.

5. Blanket Flower “Gaillardia.”

The blanket flower has no special needs. Anyone without a green thumb can make it bloom prolifically. All it really want is a sunny spot and occasional watering spells. It blooms all summer long and also in the fall. It is possible to grow this plant in both cold and warm tropical climates (USDA Zones 3-10).

6. Verbena

Verbena is an excellent ground cover that spreads rapidly and thrives in high heat and a little water. It comes in many colors and blooms in clusters from spring to fall (year round in warm climates). It needs full sun and well-drained soil. Verbena grows diversely in both temperate and tropical climates under USDA zone 3 to 11.

7. Lantana

Lantana is a hardy tropical plant grown for its fragrant, colorful flowers. Although it blooms throughout the spring and summer, in warmer areas, it has year round flowers. The Lantana loves heat and drought, a less demanding plant and can be grown in any soil type. Its flowers attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. This plant is also easy to grow in pots. It grows well in USDA zones 7 to 11.

8. Wallflower

Known for the beautiful colors and sweet aroma, the wallflowers are short-lived perennials in warmer regions (USDA Zones 8-10), others are annuals (in colder regions) or biennials that resist drought well and require occasional watering. Flowers appear in spring and summer in clusters. Put your wallflower plant in a sunny or partially shaded place and remember not to water it much.

9. Oleander

Oleander is a tropical shrub that blooms prolifically. It produces beautiful fragrant flowers of different colors, like yellow, pink, red, white and purple. Oleander is known to adapt well to hot and dry climates and grows very well in coastal areas. It prefers full sun but doesn’t mind a few hours of shade too.

10. Rock Soapwort

Also known as “Tumbling Ted,” a good semi-evergreen groundcover that blooms in summer. It is native to the mountainous regions of the Southern Europe, it is relatively cold hardy and doesn’t grow well in hot climates (above zone 9). Grow this plant if you’re searching for the one that thrives on neglect, requires no fertilizers and perform well in poor soil in the drought-like conditions.

11. Sage

This perennial, drought-resistant herb is famous for its aromatic flavor. The best time to grow is when the weather starts to warm up after the frost (and when there is abundant sunshine). Sage has low watering requirements, and overwatering can kill the plant quickly.

12. Poppy

Thanks to the vibrant colors, poppies are the biggest attraction in any garden or a patio. To grow poppies all you need is a sufficient exposure to sun and low to moderate watering. Check out how you can grow poppies in pots here.

13. Lavender Cotton

This mound forming shrub has grey-green foliage and pretty button like flower heads that appear in summer. Grow this plant in a well-draining, loamy soil in full sun.

14. Sedum

Known for its resistance to drought, it is sufficient to water it once a week in the spring and summer and, if required, once a month in winter. This plant grows well in all soil types and prefers plenty of light and sunshine.

There are many sedum varieties available, and almost all of them are low maintenance. You can choose the flowering ones or those with variegated foliage.

15. Adenium

Also known as “Desert Rose,” Adenium is a tropical succulent plant that requires occasional watering. Adenium needs full sun and heat to thrive, however, it can also be grown as a houseplant in colder climates.

Also Read: Easiest Houseplants

16. Lavender

This unmistakable flowering herb is a beautiful perennial and needs no introduction. It is easy to grow and tolerant of heat and drought and offers the perfect combination of color and aroma. You can also plant it in the pot, just be sure the pot has good drainage because the plant can not tolerate excess water. Learn more about growing lavender here.

17. Rock Daisy

There are several genera of plants in the daisy family that are called “Rock Daisy.” They are most suitable for the rock gardens; these flowering plants thrive well in neglect and the lack of water.

18. Globe Thistle

Once established, globe thistles tolerate drought and are probably one of the easiest perennial you can have in your garden, and once in bloom, they are one of the most exciting (prickly though) plants you can see. The flowers appear in blue or violet colors (depending on the variety) from summer to early fall.

19. Rose Campion

Rose Campion is one of the drought tolerant plants that are easy to grow. This plant is also admired for its silvery green foliage. A rose campion requires only supplemental watering during prolonged dry periods.

20. Red Valerian

This drought tolerant plant has fragrant round clusters of flowers that appear from late spring the plant is also complemented by the fleshy blue-green foliage. Once established, the plant needs occasional watering and is relatively low care.

21. Euphorbia

Most of the plants from the Euphorbia genus tolerates the scarcity of water easily and don’t require special attention. The plants from this genus are found in almost every part of the world, from short living annuals to tall perennials.

22. Russian Sage

Russian sage is truly an admirable plant due to its silvery foliage and beautiful plumes of lavender color flowers. This tough and drought resistant plant must be planted in a position that is sunny and well-drained.

23. Yarrow

Yarrow has small, tightly packed showy flowers. This hardy perennial also has fern-like decorative foliage. Yarrows are low maintenance plant and suitable for borders, wildflower meadows, and rock gardens. Growing yarrow requires position that is sunny, and well-draining loamy soil, it grows best in USDA Zones 3-9.

24. Cactuses and Succulents

Not only the cactuses and succulents need less water, but they are also low-maintenance and easy to grow. During the period of drought, these tough plants shrink and use the reserved water. There are many cacti and succulent varieties that you can choose to grow.

Every plant requires a certain amount of care — but some indoor plants can put up with (or even prefer) minimal tending. These options look lovely, and will fare well even if watering is always the forgotten to-do item on your list.

1. Succulents

These waxy, geometric beauties are certainly trendy, but not only because of their interesting shapes and hues ranging from mint green to deep violet. Their thick leaves store water, so they typically only require weekly watering (wait until the soil is dry before dousing them again). Succulents come in lots of varieties (like slender cacti, spiky sedum, smooth Echeveri, or flowering Kalanchoe), but typically enjoy sunlight and dry air.

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2. ZZ plant

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These beauties, which grow in tall stalks of deep green, rubbery leaves, actually like to be left alone. Though they prefer moderate levels of sunlight, but can tolerate low light, too, so they’re often go-to choice for offices. “These plants prefer to stay on the dry side, and seem to thrive on neglect,” says Kathie Hayden, plant information service manager at Chicago Botanic Garden.

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3. Pothos


This leafy vine would have been voted “most popular” in high school. Since its quite hardy (and quite pretty), people choose it often. It can deal with low light, and won’t be bothered if you let the soil dry out.

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4. Ponytail palm

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This Mexico native gets its name from its shape — its skinny leaves sprout from a thick stalk, where it stores water.

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5. Snake plant


Also called mother-in-law’s tongue (perhaps because its leaves come to a sharp point), this easy-care plant is a popular choice for many homes. “You might think they’re kind of passé,” says Tovah Martin, expert gardener and author of the upcoming book, The Indestructible Houseplant. “But at a recent flower show, I saw a lot of interesting new varieties, like a silver-looking one.”

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6. Air plants

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Much like their name suggests, these spidery plants don’t even need soil to thrive; you can literally hang them in midair, place them in a decorative vase, or prop them up on a shelf. And watering them is nearly set-and-forget: “Just dunk them in water for about 2 or 3 hours every 10 days or so,” says Martin.

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7. Begonias

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These crowd-pleasing spring and summer blooms need their soil to dry out before they get another drink, and require even less watering in the winter. “Plus they come in many different foliage colors and patterns,” says Hayden.

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8. Chinese evergreen

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“This is one rock solid plant,” say Martin. “Of course, I don’t think you should torture any plant, but the Chinese evergreen can stand up to a lot. And there are fun versions with speckles and stripes that look like they belong at a carnival.” Chinese evergreens can tolerate low to medium light, and you can water when you notice the soil is dry.

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9. Cast-iron plant


Much like its name suggests, this low-growing plant with wide flats leaves can stand up to tough conditions (like an owner who often forgets to pick up the watering can). You should water them when the soil is dry, but they’ll fare through a drought, too.

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More Garden Advice:

• 13 Houseplants You Can’t Kill

• Fill Your Garden With Clever Repurposed Planters

• 8 Clever Tricks to Keep Houseplants Happy

What Your Favorite Flower Says About You:

Keeping a garden can seem like an intimidating task. It’s daunting especially for someone who is a beginner! We’ve rounded up eight of the best low maintenance plants that can handle tough love. So even if you don’t have a green thumb, they’ll still survive and thrive!

Watch the video for the full list of fool-proof plants to grow this spring, and keep reading below!

Photo: Parks Wholesale Plants

1. Wave Petunias

This plant requires little pruning. Just sprinkle with a little fertilizer, water frequently, and enjoy the color these guys bring all summer long.

Photo: Dorling Kindersley

2. Yarrow

This flowering plant requires full sun and poor soil. You don’t even have to fertilize to get these lovely flower heads.

Photo: Sparkman’s Nursery

3. Hosta

Plant once and forget the rest! This perennial is my kind of plant. Little water, sun or shade, this plant thrives when you basically ignore it!

Photo: BHG

4. Impatiens

You don’t need a green thumb to get these to blossom. They come in almost every color, and if you have a bright spot indoors, they can blossom all year long!

Photo: BHG

5. Primrose

Creating thick, luscious, and fragrant bushes, Primrose plants are show-stoppingly beautiful. Flowering mostly in the spring months, these plants do well in full sun or lightly shaded areas.

Photo: Dorling Kindersley

6. Pot Marigold

Another colorful flower, these fun blooms come in all sorts of cheery yellow and orange hues. Make sure to plant in a pot with fast drainage, deadhead as needed, and you’ll enjoy this plant all season long.

Photo: onlyfoods.net

7. Daylily

Although each bloom lasts only one day, each plant produces several at a time. Water these plants each time you water your lawn and they’ll grow continuously.

Photo: HGTV

8. Four O’Clock

This trumpet-shaped annual does best in full sun, but can take some shade. They quickly blossom and thrive in almost any type of soil. The best part? They keep your garden smelling great all summer long!

What are some low maintenance plants that offer good ground cover?

For an alternative to grass, consider using a perennial like Creeping Jenny or Irish Moss. You can even try some types of herbs as a ground cover option; thyme and mint spread nicely and don’t require much maintenance.

With mandatory water cuts hanging over every city and suburb in California, state officials are urging folks to pull out their lawns in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping.

One snag with that plan is that most drought-tolerant plants available at local nurseries are imported from places like South Africa and Australia. Ecologists say those plants aren’t as inviting for California’s animals, insects and birds as native plants.

If you’re looking for your yard to be an oasis for local fauna, here are 13 drought-tolerant California plants to consider.

Source: Theodore Payne Foundation’s California Native Plant Database. Photos by Maya Sugarman.

1. California Yarrow

Aromatic, feathery fern-like leaves grow to 6 inches in height. Flat-topped clusters of flowers rise to 2 feet. Good cut flower in a meadow planting or as a lawn substitute.

Photo: Ken Gilliland, Courtesy of Theodore Payne Foundation

2. Arroyo de la Cruz Blue-Eyed Grass

This dwarf selection of blue-eyed grass is about 6 inches tall and has unusually large purple flowers in spring. Will go summer dormant, losing some or all of its leaves, returning with winter rains.

3. Palmer’s Indian Mallow

A plant with masses of bright gold flowers in spring and summer. Soft velvety foliage adorns this tough shrub. Takes hot, sunny areas. Rabbits like this one, so caging young plants is recommended. Tolerates a variety of soil types, but does not like frequent summer water.

4. Apricot Mallow

Great in dry garden or on a slope. Orange flowers are stunning when in full bloom. OK to cut back in fall. Excellent butterfly plant.

5. California Mountain Lilac

One of the most popular lilacs thanks to its reliability and tolerance of many conditions. Showy cobalt blue flowers. A great bloomer and looks good all year. Tolerates heavy soils. Excellent with oaks and pines.

6. Channel Island Bush Poppy

One of Theodore Payne Native Plant Nursery’s most popular native shrubs. Beautiful, bright yellow flowers contrast with blue-gray foliage. Heavy bloom in season. Rare in nature. Limited distribution.

7. Lester Rowntree Manzanita

A beautiful manzanita with blue-green leaves, red-brown bark and dark pink flowers. Perfect as a hedge for dry garden or slope. Clusters of urn-shaped flowers attract hummingbirds in winter.

8. Point Sal Purple Sage

Beautiful and tough groundcover for hot dry areas. Does best with infrequent deep soakings –especially inland. Highly recommended for erosion control and bird habitat.

9. Santa Cruz Island Ironwood

Year-round interest. Attractive bark, fern-like foliage. White flower clusters in summer, aging to orange-rust in summer. Prefers good drainage. Beautiful in groves. Rare, threatened by grazing.

10. White Sage

Important Native American ceremonial plant. Flower stalks are tall and arching, up to 6 feet long. Striking white foliage and beautiful structural form. A local native. Tolerates heavy soil. Bees love it.

11. Tidy Tips

A spring annual with yellow and white daisy-like flowers on top of long stalks. Seeds germinate with winter rain and need no supplemental water. If transplanted from seedlings, plants should be watered occasionally.

12. Lupine

Very desirable for its long period of bloom, which continues from early fall to late spring. Of rather spreading habit 3 to 5 feet high with light green foliage; flowers light blue or lavender. Very valuable for covering dry slopes.

13. Canyon Grey California Sagebrush

Dense silvery mat of soft, aromatic foliage. Trim once a year. Excellent for erosion control or parkway plantings. Tolerates clay soils.

This is the first of a two-part series on California native plants. Read the second story and find more about replacing your lawn here.

Shrubs For Arid Conditions: Learn About Drought Resistant Shrubs For Landscapes

One of the best ways a gardener can cut down water usage is to replace thirsty bushes and hedges with drought resistant shrubs. Don’t think that shrubs for arid conditions are limited to spikes and thorns. You can find lots of species to choose from, including drought tolerant flowering shrubs and drought tolerant evergreen shrubs.

Choosing the Best Drought Tolerant Shrubs

The best drought tolerant shrubs vary from region to region. The trick is to find drought resistant shrubs that grow well in your area. Select shrubs on a site-by-site basis, taking soil, climate and exposure into account.

When you are selecting shrubs for arid conditions, remember that all shrubs need irrigation while they are establishing a root system. Even the best drought tolerant shrubs – including drought tolerant evergreen shrubs – only develop the ability to use water efficiently after the initial planting and establishment period is over.

Drought Tolerant Evergreen Shrubs

Many people think of drought tolerant evergreen shrubs as a Christmas tree species. However, you can find both needled and broadleaf trees that hold onto their leaves through winter.

Since plants with small leaves suffer less water stress than those with big leaves, it is no surprise that some of the best drought tolerant plants are needled evergreens.

Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) makes a great hedge and needs little water after establishment. Other needled water savers include Sawara false cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) and most species of juniper (Juniperus spp.).

If you want broadleaf evergreen shrubs, you can pretty much select any species of holly (Ilex spp.) and be certain you have drought resistant shrubs. Japanese, inkberry and American holly are all excellent choices.

Drought Tolerant Flowering Shrubs

You don’t have to give up bushes with blossoms to lower water use. Just be selective. Some of your old favorites might actually be just what you require.

If you have a couple of bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parvifolia) in the garden, you’ve already found shrubs for arid conditions. Ditto with the following:

  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
  • Japanese flowering quince (Chaenomeles x superba)
  • Lilac (Syringa spp.)
  • Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)

Other great drought tolerant flowering shrubs may be less familiar. Look at these, for instance:

  • Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
  • Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
  • Bush cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

To replace those thirsty heirloom roses, try saltspray rose (Rosa rugosa) or Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana).

Drought-tolerant plants let you have a colorful, healthy garden even when your area isn’t getting the rain it needs.

When a plant can tolerate drought, you don’t have to give it as much water from an irrigation system, thus saving water and preventing the plant from dying.

Drought-tolerant plants look just as good, if not better than their drought-intolerant cousins, and in some cases, the plants offer additional benefits.


This colorful family of plants looks like it has masses of bright flowers, but those colorful “petals” are actually bracts, which are more leaflike in structure. The real flowers are tiny cream-colored flowers hidden within the masses of bracts. Bougainvillea is a rambling shrub that can wind around trees and climb up walls. It handles hot, dry weather beautifully and is common in locations like the West Coast.

Panicle Hydrangea

This medium-sized shrub can grow to 15 feet with a 12-foot spread, and it works well as a hedge. It is considered invasive in the Northeast, but in states where it is not considered invasive, it likes full sun to part shade and can tolerate air pollution. It’s a fairly low-key plant in terms of maintenance with few pest problems, and it grows best in zones 3-8.


Winterberry is a good shrub for locations with poorly draining soil. Its masses of red berries attract birds, and if there’s a spot in your garden with acidic soil, this is a great plant to add.

Lilac Shrubs

Most lilacs are good for areas where drought is more occasional than a regular visitor, although you can find California lilacs that are very drought-tolerant. Be aware that well-watered lilacs can attract deer. Full sun and good circulation are critical for healthy plants.


Grow an edible garden with shrubby herbs like rosemary. This shrub can grow to about 6 feet in some cases, but you’re more likely to see it in much shorter hedgelike forms. It’s edible, of course, and it tolerates drought quite well. Plant in-ground or in containers.

Russian Sage

This spindly, low-maintenance perennial tolerates just about everything — drought, deer, poor soil — except bad drainage. As long as the soil drains well, and the spot is in full sun in zones 5-9, Russian sage should do quite well. Even in normal rain years, you can get away with watering it only a little.

Feathery Cassia

This short, easily trimmed and shaped hedge has yellow flower clusters that burst forth in a riot of color. This is an Australian plant that does very well in dry Southwestern gardens. In winter or whenever your rainy season is, you may not have to water the plant at all.

Leucophyllum Frutescens

Also known as Texas barometer bush, this shrub has flowers that bloom when rain falls or when the soil is very moist (that’s why it’s called the barometer bush). It’s found in the New Mexico and southwestern Texas deserts and does well in dry, rocky soils with little rain. The plant has lovely purple flowers and is suitable for zones 8-10. It’s great for garden hotspots and requires little care past establishment. You can use it as a border plant, a container plant, or even a windbreak if you can get the plant to grow to its maximum height of about 8 feet.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bush gets its name from the butterflies that like to use it as food. If you want to set up a pollinator garden or simply have a few snack plants available for butterflies, the colorful clusters of flowers of the butterfly bush are a welcome sight. It’s very good for dry areas and provides fragrance and color toward the end of summer. Zones 5-9 are best for this plant. You can use it in borders, but it works well as a large shrub left to produce tons of flowers.

Japanese Flowering Quince

This gorgeous, huge shrub has big red flowers that can’t be missed. It’s a wonderfully showy plant that is low-maintenance and that produces fruit you can eat, albeit in things like jellies (it’s not so good for raw eating). The shrub can reach 10 feet high and spread quite a bit. Fungal diseases can be a problem, but the plant is great for dry or clay soil. It does sucker, so you’ll need to remove those on a regular basis. Note that pruning to improve next year’s bloom can reduce the fruit you get this year. This is a thick shrub that’s good for use as a screen. Frost can be an issue in colder regions, so take protective measures. Good for zones 4-8.


12 plants to grow in dry soil

It’s easy to assume that all plants benefit from rich, moist soil, but on the contrary there are lots of plants that thrive in quite the opposite.


To survive in these sun-baked, often shallow soils, plants have to be tough. Seldom bothered by pest or disease, they lend themselves to a more laid-back approach to gardening.

Improving dry soils is simple – digging in plenty of organic matter such as garden compost will help it to hold onto moisture and improve its structure.

Related content:

  • Find out your soil type
  • How to prepare a border for planting (video)
  • Get the best from dry soil

So if you’ve hit a dry spot in your garden, why not take a look our top 10 plants for dry soils, below.


Foxtail lilies (Eremurus)

Foxtail lily (Eremurus ‘Romance’)

The graceful flower spikes of foxtail lilies grow to a spectacular height and look elegant when grown among grasses. Look after their spider-like root systems with excellent drainage.


Stachys byzantina

Stachys byzantina

The furry leaves of stachys make it look silvery but they also trap moisture, preventing it from escaping and drying out the plant. Remove any yellowing leaves before they start to rot.


Bearded iris

Bearded iris (Iris germanica)

These bearded hybrids store moisture and nutrients in their rhizomes, so prefer a dry garden to damp, lush conditions. Ensure the rhizomes get full sun for best flowering.



Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’

In the Mediterranean, you can spot lavender growing out of pavement cracks, a testament to its tolerance of dry conditions. Trim back plants after flowering to keep them compact.



Sedum in flower

Sedums, many of which are now known as hylotelephiums, greet tough conditions with a flourish of nectar-rich, star-shaped flowers. Great for border edges and among paving.


Cardoon (Cynara)

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Related to artichokes, cardoons thrive in dry conditions with their silvery foliage, which reflects back strong sunshine. Leave the flowerheads in place for their statuesque winter form.


Knautia macedonica

Knautia macedonica

This tough scabious heralds from Eastern Europe’s grasslands. A magnet for bees, plant among other low-growing plants to allow the flowerheads to ‘float’ in the breeze.


Melianthus major

Melianthus major

Once thought only suitable for sub-tropical gardens, Melianthus major are African natives that will tolerate low temperatures in free-draining soil. Cover the roots with straw in winter if you’re unsure.


Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii ‘Lambrook Gold’

The flowering stems of Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii are biennial, so only cut back those that have already flowered. Otherwise, this is perfect for low-maintenance areas. Take care when handling as the sap is toxic.


Teasels (Dipsacus)

Teasels (Dipsacus fullonum)

A British native beloved by goldfinches, teasels both support wildlife and provide winter structure in a dry garden. Thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding.



Passiflora ‘Constance Elliot’

Tropical-looking passionflowers thrive in sunny spots, so are ideal if you have a pergola or trellis to cover. The flowers are fabulously scented and attract pollinating insects including bees and beetles.


Panicum virgatum

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’


Switch grass, Panicum virgatum, is one of many ornamental grasses that will thrive in dry soils. This particular grass is deciduous, producing lovely hazy panicles and turning beautiful shades of gold and red in autumn.

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