There are many plants that will grow in Pacific Northwest Garden zone 8 that are fairly drought tolerant when they are established plants. Some are native plants, while others are not, but all produce lovely flowers in season and add to the summer garden without running up your water bill. Here are some that I’ve tried with good success:
-Most anything with grey foliage-this would include lambs’ ears, butterfly bush or buddleja, Dusty miller, wormwood, santolina and others.
–Bearded Iris–They have beautiful flowers for a short period of time, but then add green leafy spikes to the landscape, which is nice in the heat of summer. Quite drought tolerant.
–Catmint–these plants have lovely blue flowers, and cats will go after this plant. It looks wonderful cascading down a wall with Santolina ‘Sweet Carol’ nearby to give a bright yellow accent when in bloom
-Maltese cross, with bright orange-red flowers that hummingbirds love
-Daylilies–these come in beautiful yellows and pinks, and are quite drought tolerant
-Other lilies–Asiatic and Oriental lilies will grow to six and seven feet tall when they are watered here during the summer, yet I grow them in my curb strip, which receives little water besides rainfall, and they grow to 2-3 feet tall and bloom like crazy.
-Hollyhocks–They tend to get rust on the leaves, but if you keep the diseased leaves picked off and give them good air circulation, they will grow tall and bloom well into fall. They may need staking if you live in a windy area.
–Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber)–This is a wonderful plant that has clusters of red flowers. Just keep it deadheaded and it will bloom all summer and into fall. A hummingbird favorite.
–Red-hot poker (Kniphofia)–They come in more than screaming orange flowers, so check online sources. Hummingbirds like them, and they are very drought tolerant. They look beautiful planted next to something blue.
–NW Native plants–Oregon grape, Indian plum, Red-flowering currant, and red elderberry are all drought tolerant once established, and they have beautiful spring flowers that are all hummingbird food, and lovely fall foliage that turns colors.
-Spring-blooming bulbs–Daffodils and tulips look great interplanted among any of the above plants, and they do best when they have very dry conditions during the summer months.
Any of these plants will need to be watered regularly the first year you plant them, but after that, their root systems should be established enough that they can survive nicely on the rainfall we get here.
Give them a try–you’ll have a beautiful garden with a fraction of the summertime work and cost.