12 Stunning Drought Tolerant Plants You Need for Your Garden

Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by April

These 12 Stunning Drought Tolerant Flowers & Plants Will Make Your Garden Gorgeous Even if You Live in Dry Desert Weather!

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to start planning out your garden. The first step in any successful outdoor space is planting some drought-resistant plants! If you’re unsure where to begin, this blog post has 12 of the best plants for a drought-tolerant garden.

Before we get started, please keep in mind that some of these plants are poisonous to children and animals. For any plant you are interested in, be sure to check if it is toxic to your household before planting.

Sage

Commonly known as “the wise woman’s herb,” sage has been used for centuries to impart a sense of wisdom and strength. It is also sometimes called “herb of remembrance.” The Romans used it in their bathwater because they believed that its medicinal properties improved memory.

Sage in drought climates: Sage thrives in the hotter, drier climates. It is a woody perennial that can grow up to two feet high but feature sparse foliage and small flowers.

Sage Care: Sage needs full sun at all times, so it’s best planted with other plants or near an area of the garden that gets direct sunlight for most of the day. Sage plants can be propagated from cuttings of the stem or root, but because they produce a flowering stalk in late summer and fall, it’s best to allow at least six feet between each plant so that some will not receive as much shade.

Wallflower

Wallflowers are a genus of plants within the daisy family. Each flower is actually a cluster or “head” of multiple flowers, and each head can be up to about 30 cm in diameter. Their color ranges from purple, pink, reds, and white colors. The plant name derives from their tendency to grow in plastered walls and cliffs.

In dry climates, they are a good choice because the plant is able to conserve water by closing its leaves when it’s not in direct sunlight or under high winds. They also have evolved many adaptations that allow them to survive with little or no soil moisture, such as deep roots that can reach into the moisture-giving subsoil and hairy leaves that create a humid microclimate.

Portulaca

Portulaca’s tiny flowers are happy to grow in dry, warm soil and enjoy a sunny spot. They’re also one of the easiest plants to grow, so they make an excellent choice for beginners as well! You’ll find that these drought-tolerant plants do not require much water or fertilizer either – just enough to keep them happy.

Just keep in mind that they are not cold-resistant, so you’ll need to think about where and when you plant them carefully. Make sure the soil is well-drained before planting these drought-tolerant plants because they will rot if their roots get too wet or soggy!

Succulents

Drought Resistant Succulent

Succulents are among the most popular plants for dry climates. They’re a cinch to care for, need very little water, and there is an amazing variety of colors and shapes.

Russian Sage

Russian sage is a must-have for any drought-tolerant landscape, but it also happens to be one of the easiest plants you can grow. It’s hardy, easy to cultivate, and adaptable in terms of soil conditions because it prefers well-drained soils with good air circulation. Russian Sage has an intense aroma, which many consider a plus.

It is very drought-tolerant and will survive on little to no supplemental water, so it can even be grown in areas that are prone to dry spells or droughts. You’ll want to make sure you fertilize this plant every two months during the spring and summer months because it requires nutrient-rich soil to produce its aromatic oils.

Verbena

A good option for dry climates is verbena, which has a variety of blooming colors. Plant it in the ground or containers that are wide and shallow enough to accommodate its root system. Water when needed but not excessively because this will cause rot – make sure you only water until there’s just a light film on top of the soil surface.

Blanket Flower “Gaillardia”

The blanket flower is a tough little shrub that does well in dry climates. It’s native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, but it also thrives at high altitudes of up to 11,000 feet. This drought-resistant plant can grow into a small tree reaching heights of 20 ft., hence its nickname, “tree daisy.”

This plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil, but it will also grow in shadier areas. It does not like wet feet or a lot of humidity, so make sure the area you’re planting is on higher ground than other plants around it.

Oleander

The oleander plant is a tough, drought-tolerant bush that can also act as an ornamental. Oleanders are native to the subtropical regions of Africa and Asia but have been grown in temperate areas for centuries, too, because they bloom all year round.

This shrub needs full sun to thrive and is able to withstand hot, dry weather. It can also grow in a variety of soil types, and it needs little maintenance once established. Oleanders are hardy plants that have no insect or disease problems.

Agave

The agave is one of the most popular and beautiful plants for dry climates. They are perfect plants if you want to add some color, greenery, texture, or a focal point that will last all season long as it can grow from six inches tall to more than fifteen feet!

Lavender

lavender - drought resistant

Plant the lavender in a spot with full sun or partial shade. Lavender grows well as a ground cover, so pruning is typically done by trimming back some of the stems and leaves around it. The plant will drop its blooms early which can be picked to use fresh, made into candies, or steeped in boiling water to make a tea.

Cacti

Cactus Plant for Desert Gardening

Cactus gardening is one of the most popular types of plants grown by home gardeners. These plants are very drought tolerant, which makes them a good choice if you’re trying to conserve water or need low watering schedules during dry periods.

Rose Campion

A Rose campion is a perennial plant that has pink or white flowers. Its leaves are green, and it likes to grow in sunny areas with dry soil. Rose campion can be planted as an annual if you live in zones four through six (zones one through three should not use this plant).

59 COMMENTS

  1. Please let me know where seeds, or plants can be bought. I especially want the wallflower, portulace, russian sage, verbenia, gaillardia, rose champion and lavender seeds.

    • The deer in my yard don’t eat the sage, lavender, fortnight lily or penstemon. They won’t eat oleander, for obvious reasons, and appear to leave the succulents alone. I don’t grow the rest.

  2. I am looking for something that is drought resistent that can survive the Michiagan winters 3 miles from the lake in sandy soil Thanks

  3. The Portulaca is also known as Rose Moss or Moss Rose. Momma always called it Rose Moss and had it growing everywhere. I collected some of her seeds one year and planted them the next spring, I had tons of it. I don’t know what happened to it over the years, but I have’r had any and I love them. They were hardy growers here in Southwest Indiana. If you pinch the dead ones off, many more will come on, I always dead headed mine.

    • I love moss roses! It’s about the only thing I have that thrives. I live in a dry hot climate. I water them, but they are okay if I forget to once in awhile. The nice thing about them is they bloom constantly all summer in a rainbow of colors!

    • Yes it was Linda! I grew up in Southern Indiana too! Miss it as I’m in So Cal now. We had scads and scads of Rose Moss aaall over the farm too. Couldn’t seem to get rid of it. Now, Id LOVE to have that hardy color out here in my sparse and tiny patio garden. ? Where do you guys hail from? We grew up in the Northern tip of Warrick County. God Bless!

  4. I’m not good at growing seeds. I need plants in bloom. I live in tonawanda ny, do they sell them around here. I know it is kind of late in the season. Do they have to be planted every year.

    • Most websites for catalogs for seeds/plants have easy to use search features that will give you this information. Some require you to put in your email and zip code. (Tanstaafl-There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch/There’s no such thing as a free lunch.)

      I haven’t the time now to search for sites that give the info you want. Simply put in the name of the plant and search and you will probably get several sites that can give you the information for the plant. It is tedious and time consuming.

      BEST BET!!!!!

      Under the photos of the plants there is a quicklink/hyperlink to a seller of that plant. Click on it. Most of them took me directly to the page for that plant which had the information you are looking for.

      That is probably your best bet for now.

    • I too am looking for the zone info on these postings. I live in Florida and am wondering if these hold up in our summers with daily rains and intermittent torrential downpours?

  5. While I love agaves in their myriad of forms and colors, they should be recommended only with caution just as several of the other plants here have been. Most have VICIOUS, needle like spines on the tips of each leaf, along with additional barbs along the leaf edges. These plants are definitely NOT suitable for use around children or pets. A somewhat safer alternative might be certain species of aloe, whose spines are not nearly as vicious, although they do still warrant caution.

  6. I wish I had this years ago when I lived in Tucson, Arizona! I did have Portulaca there that did very well. I do have very pretty Portulaca here in North Carolina. By the way the plural of cactus is cacti.

    • I live in Tucson too. I’m glad you advised her on the correct plural form of cactus, which is cacti.

      Portaluca also called Ice Plant here. Never had much luck with that or Verbena. Had a gorgeous French Lavender once. Grew very well, til hubby sprayed weed killer on it! I had been there for years! What was he thinking? I was so mad!

  7. The Gaillarda also comes in just red. Which i love better than the one with the yellow border. When you take the heads that are past flowering off it will keep giving. Such a grateful plant. Love it. And indeed droughtresistant.

  8. Hi Linda, you can’t go wrong with Rose Campion. This flower was always in my mothers garden. I have multiple plants in my garden due to seeds at end of summer. Your first plant may be skinny but will grow fuller. Each plant will die down but will return even better. My mother plant looks exactly like the one in the photo. Would love to give you one of mine or even the seeds. Plant now for next year.

  9. I grow gaillardia , they are still blooming in Oct and Nov! The Orange, red and yellow colors are a beautiful addition to the fall colors of northern Ohio

  10. I don’t think this is a duplicate post. My husband tried growing pansies from seeds. Planted 100 several germinated and all of them died. We ended up buying plants and they are gorgeous!

    Any suggestions for successfully growing plants from seeds.

  11. Thank you, verg helpful. I live in South Texas where we had the big freeze this past winter. I lost 40 containers of beautiful plants. I been trying to replace them with plants that will take the hot sun with less watering. My color skem is bright red, yellow and purples. Where can I buy red verbena?

  12. I grow portaluca in a large container on our parking, and it thrives. It gets full, hot sun during the day, with shade in the evening. Colors are really vibrant. Even I can’t kill it.

  13. You forgot to mention that some of these plants are also poisonous and should not be grown in yards with children.

  14. What is the best plant to put on my Mom’s grave? During the late part of the day there’s full sun but very early only partial. I’ve wanted to “pretty up” her grave but don’t know what to plant & when. I considered putting succulents but I’m not sure what are best & how to take care of them. Thank you for your help.

    • I know this reply is weeks later but I have tended my good friends grave for summer for several years (others leave bouquets I do actual plants) – we are in northern Illinois – easiest colorful choice would be snapdragons the seeds take 6-8 weeks so I buy plants -now with climate changes etc they’re a good choice very drought tolerant I do the “tall” snaps 12-18” if u cut them back after blooming is over they’ll bloom again thru summer & even light frosts and you can save the seed pods!

  15. My Russian Sage doesn’t spread either. I love my Russian Sage and have planted in numerous areas in my gardens Maybe poster is thinking of Catsmint???

  16. Just curious if any of these plants are recommended for potting planters? Need a few hanging planters and pots in areas of my backyard. Just need the plants now. Thank you!!

  17. I have Russian Sage at one end of my narrow front garden and it’s been there without spreading for going on fifteen years. It is easily recognized by its distinctive odour when touched. It too should be dead-headed for return flowers.

  18. I’m surprised trumpet vine isn’t listed. I have one and I’m in Nevada, this thing literally can’t be killed! It’s being extremely invasive and I never water it, yet it keeps growing and blooming it’s big orange flowers like crazy. If you have an area that you don’t care about a plant going crazy, trumpet vine is the way to go.

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