The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone map divides the U.S. into 10 zones based on average annual minimum temperatures. Zone 7 stretches across the country from northern California to central Texas, northeast Georgia to Maryland, and encompasses parts of Long Island, New York. The best plants for zone 7 are heat- and drought-tolerant and require little maintenance.
The University of California Davis recommends Amaryllis belladonna, also known as August lily or belladonna lily. A native of South Africa, the August lily requires a "warm-cool-warm" annual cycle in order to reproduce. This perennial bulb plant prefers full to afternoon sunlight and is drought-tolerant. The August lily produces pink flowers in the spring. When growing in the Sierra Foothills, part of zone 7, the plant is deer-resistant and has very low water requirements.
Penn State University’s Consumer Horticulture Center recommends red maple trees, or Acer rubrum, for zone 7. The red maple, a deciduous tree, can tolerate shady conditions and wet soil. This fast-growing tree can reach up to 60 feet in height. The red maple produces clusters of small, red blooms in late winter to early spring and is one of the earliest species to produce foliage color in the fall.
St. John's Wort
Hyperium calycinum, also called Aaron’s beard or St. John’s wort, thrives in zone 7. This evergreen ground cover prefers sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained, acidic soils. St. John’s wort grows 18 inches high and spreads rapidly. This low-maintenance plant produces large yellow blooms in the spring and summer and displays deep purple fall foliage.
Texas A&M University’s Aggie Horticulture recommends verbena species, also called vervain, for zone 7 gardens. Verbena species can be annuals, short-lived perennials or perennials. These heat- and drought-tolerant plants prefer full sun and very well-drained soil. The “princess” hybrids can reach up to 12 inches tall and produce blue, pink, purple and white flowers in summer. Once plants have bloomed, prune lightly to produce a second bloom.
Desert lantana, also called Mexican marjoram or Lantana achyranthifolia, thrives in zone 7. This small, hairy shrub has fragrant foliage and produces white and pink blossoms in the spring. Desert lantana prefers full sun and requires little water and maintenance once established. This deciduous plant is very heat-tolerant and grows up to 3 feet high and wide.
- U.S. National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Amaryllis Belladonna
- Penn State University, Consumer Horticulture Center: Shade Tolerant Trees, Shrubs and Groundcovers
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Acer Rubrum
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Hyperium Calycinum
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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