Drought tolerance does not mean that drought tolerant plants prefer hot, dry weather. Most plants prefer moist, good-draining soil. Healthy, established flowering shrubs tolerate moderate periods of drought. Flowering shrubs tend to limit their growth and flowering when they lack water. Flowering shrubs show more drought tolerance when planted in the fall than when planted in the spring.
Glassy abelia (Abelia grandiflora) is a large, mounded evergreen shrub reaching 6 feet tall. The simple green leaves are glossy. Pinkish-white, bell-shaped flowers bloom from summer to fall. Glossy abelia is used as a large filler or background shrub.
White forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum) is also called Korean abelialeaf. This multi-stemmed shrub grows 3 to 5 feet. Small pinkish-white flowers appear mid-spring followed by dark green leaves. White forsythia is usually pruned heavily right after flowering to promote new branch growth.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is known as the summer lilac. The flowering shrub reaches 5 to 10 feet in height. Butterfly bush grows 5 to 8 feet in a single summer. Showy 4-to-10-inch floral spikes loom over the gray-green, lance-shaped leaves. The spikes are made up of clusters of tiny blossoms in pink, red, purple and white. The flowers last throughout the summer until the first fall frost.
Tea bush (Camellia sinensis) is a rounded shrub growing to 4 to 6 feet tall. The tea bush is used in group plantings and as low border plants. White, 1 to 1-1/2 inch, fragrant flowers appear in autumn. This shrub does not enjoy excessive watering. Tea is actually made from this bush.
Southern Bush Honeysuckle
Southern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia) reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. This shrub spreads by growing suckers from the roots. Small yellow blossoms appear during the summer on the tip of new growth branches. The glossy dark green leaves have red veins.
Cape jasmine (Gardenia augusta) is also known as the gardenia. This dense, rounded evergreen shrub grows 4 to 6 feet tall. Waxy, 2-to-3-inch, white flowers show up in summer. As the fragrant blossoms age, they turn yellow. The leathery leaves are dark emerald green. Cape jasmine shrubs prefer soils with a lot of organic matter.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a deciduous bush that rapidly grows to 4 to 8 feet tall. This rounded bush forms large colonies. Fragrant, 4-to-12-inch flower spikes appear in the summer. The blossoms start out white, fade to pink and then to tan. Hydrangeas need mulch to keep the roots cool and conserve soil moisture.