Answer: There's a term for low water use plants. It's called xeriscape and there are lots of plants that will thrive in hot, dry areas with a minimum of water. Here are a few suggestions;
Celosia or cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. plumosa or C. argentea var. cristata) is unique for its unusual feathery or brain-like flowers of bright red, yellow, orange, and pink. Celosia is an annual that may grow from six inches to four feet in height depending on the variety. Bring fresh-cut celosia inside for an excellent cut flower, or hang it to dry.
Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana) can reach four to five feet in height in full sun. The unique spider-like flowers are rose, violet, or wine. Cleome is an annual, meaning it grows from seed every year. It will re-seed freely in the garden.
Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) blooms in a variety of bright colors including purple, orange, red, rose, and pink. It generally grows to one to two feet in height. It is an old-fashioned flower that is easy to grow and makes an excellent dried flower that holds color well. For dried flowers, pick the flowers just as they open fully and then hang them upside down to dry.
Madagascar Periwinkle or Annual Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) is a plant that seems to thrive in hot areas. Its lush, dark-green foliage is somewhat glossy and forms a two-foot tall mound. Annual vinca is available in white, pink, purple, and bi-colors. If you have a difficult southern exposure to work with, Smith recommended trying this annual. It is slow to start if spring temperatures are cool and it does not tolerate wet areas.
Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) is a perennial that will reach 18 to 24 inches in height. It has yellow, daisy-like flowers that last from late spring to late summer. It works best if grown in a dry, full-sun area.
Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) is the perennial form of Black-eyed Susan. Its cheery, yellow-orange daisy flowers brighten up the August garden.
Blanket Flower (Gaillardai species) is a perennial available in a variety of hot colors from golden yellow to mahogany red. Cultivars are available in a range of sizes with most growing in the two-foot in height range. Blanker Flower tolerates dry soil and temperatures of 90-degrees-plus.
There are many more plants suitable for xeriscaping. Check out the special section in your local garden center.
Best wishes with your landscape!
"All of these plants will survive the hot days of August with very little attention and care except an occasional pruning-off of the old blossoms," said Smith. "Try one or two next year and enjoy your garden all season long."
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