45 Drought Tolerant Plants For Dry Climates

Are you looking for a hardy plant that can tolerate some drought? There are a number of different plants you can choose, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen looks at her favorite drought-tolerant plants for dry climates.

drought tolerant plants

If you tend to think of dry, arid climates being suitable only for cacti, you may be surprised how many plants are well-adapted to drought. Whether you live in a drought-prone area or simply want some garden plants that don’t require regular watering, there are many options to choose from.

Cacti, of course, are very well-adapted to arid climates, but many other species can also grow well. There are a variety of grasses, herbs, flowers, and shrubs that make excellent choices for a drought-tolerant landscape. Some plants may require a little extra care when first planted and getting established, but once they become established and develop a strong root system, they become much more resilient to adverse environmental conditions.

Some plants have developed adaptations to help them survive arid conditions. Drought-tolerant plants may have one or several of the following characteristics: protective waxy leaves, small leaves that prevent water loss, water-hoarding succulent leaves and stems, or long taproots that seek out deeper layers of soil moisture.

As you look through the following list of drought-tolerant plants, you will probably see some familiar plants, and some that are less familiar but equally worthy of attention. All of these options are suitable for xeriscape gardening, a form of landscaping while conserving water. Use plants with different shapes, heights, colors, and textures to really make your drought-tolerant garden shine!

Adam’s Needle

Close-up of a flowering Yucca filamentosa plant in a sunny garden. The plant has a basal rosette of stiff, xiphoid, spiky blue-green leaves. The flowers are bell-shaped, cream-colored, bloom in clusters on tall thick stems.
Adam’s Needle is an evergreen, drought-tolerant plant with tall spikelets of showy white flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Yucca filamentosa
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4 to 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 10

Adam’s needle, often simply called yucca, is one of many varieties of yucca that are drought tolerant. This plant stays evergreen all year and is cold hardy to zone 5, making it suitable for many regions. Not only does it have low water needs, Adam’s needle is an overall low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow with almost no effort.

In the summer, Adam’s needle produces tall spikes of showy white flowers. The flowers attract butterflies and last a long time on the plant.

The long, sword-like leaves are often lined with thin fibrous filaments, giving them a more textured appearance. This plant will slowly spread over time by basal offshoots, so you’ll want to give it plenty of space to grow.

Agave ‘Blue Glow’

Close-up of a growing Agave 'Blue Glow' plant in a sunny garden. The plant forms a single rosette of blue-green, broad leaves with dark reddish margins and tapering towards sharp ends.
Agave ‘Blue Glow’ grows well in arid climates and has bright green leaves with a dark reddish edging.
botanical-name botanical name Agave ‘Blue Glow’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9 to 11

There are many varieties of agave, and ‘Blue Glow’ is an attractive drought-tolerant plant that grows well in arid climates. The leaves are broad and green with a dark reddish edging, tapering to a sharp tip. Grow agaves in loose, well-drained, sandy or gritty soil, in a location with full sunlight.

Agave is also known as century plant because they grow slowly and rarely bloom, but it doesn’t typically take a century to reach maturity. Plants growing in ideal conditions outdoors may bloom once in a 10 to 15-year period.

A blooming plant will send up a single tall flower stalk. After flowering, the plant dies, but it will probably have grown a few basal offshoots by this time, and you will still have a few plants to continue growing.

Bearberry

Close-up of a growing Arctostaphylos uva-ursi plant in a sunny garden. The plant has branches that are covered with alternate, leathery, rounded at the ends, spade-shaped, dark green leaves. Small, round, dark red berries grow among green foliage.
This is a drought-tolerant plant that grows well in well-drained sandy soil.
botanical-name botanical name Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 0.5 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 to 6

Bearberry is an excellent drought-tolerant plant for cooler climates. Bearberry can be easily grown from seed and grows best in dry, well-drained, sandy, or gritty soil. Give it plenty of sunlight, and it will develop into a dense, leafy, low-growing ground cover.

Bearberry has tough, waxy leaves. In spring, it blooms with a multitude of little bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are white with a hint of pink. By mid to late summer, dark red berries form, which are enjoyed by a variety of fruit-eating birds. If not eaten by wildlife, the berries remain on the plants through the winter.

Black-eyed Susan

Top view, close-up of two blooming Rudbeckia hirta flowers against a blurred green background. The flowers are large, solitary, have thin long bright yellow petals and black centers.
Rudbeckia produces gorgeous bright yellow flowers with black centers that attract butterflies.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 7

Black-eyed Susan is well adapted to its native dry grasslands and prairies and thrives in full sun. Rudbeckia is drought tolerant but will benefit from occasional deep watering if natural rainfall is particularly sparse.

Black-eyed Susan is a short-lived perennial wildflower. It is easily grown from seed, and established plants will readily self-seed, so you don’t need to worry about needing to buy more.

The flowers are cheerful and bright yellow and attract butterflies and bees. A large patch of Black-eyed Susan in full bloom is quite eye-catching!

Blue Fescue ‘Elijah Blue’

The ornamental grass Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ grows in the garden. The plant forms small bushes, consisting of long, needle-like, silvery-blue-green leaves.
Blue Fescue ‘Elijah Blue’ is an ornamental grass that thrives in dry, well-drained soil.
botanical-name botanical name Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’
plant-type plant type Ornamental grass
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.75 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Ornamental grasses are an excellent option for xeriscaping. Blue fescue does well in full sun with dry to medium moisture, and well-drained soil. This plant is cold hardy and in areas with milder winters, it may stay evergreen all winter. In colder climates, leaves turn brown and die back.

Blue fescue is a smaller ornamental grass. It forms neat clusters that will need to be divided every few years to keep them looking nice. Clusters can be planted relatively close together because this grass doesn’t get too large or spread aggressively. Although the flowers are rather insignificant to look at, the leaves are silvery bluish-green and quite attractive.

Blue Oat Grass

Close-up of a growing Helictotrichon sempervirens plant in a sunny garden. This plant is an ornamental grass that has round tufts of gracefully curved long, narrow silvery greenish blue leaves.
Blue Oat Grass is an ornamental grass with silvery greenish-blue leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Helictotrichon sempervirens
plant-type plant type Ornamental grass
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Ornamental grasses add diversity and interest to the xeriscape garden. This densely bunching grass does best in full sun with dry to medium-moisture soil. Soil can be of average quality but should be well drained. Blue oat grass is versatile and can be grown in a container, as an accent or border plant, or with other grasses, perennials, or shrubs.

Blue oat grass is an attractive plant. The silvery greenish-blue foliage stays evergreen in warmer climates but will die back in areas with colder winters.

The foliage contrasts nicely with other plants. In mid-summer, tall flowering stems emerge. The individual flowers are not especially showy, but in a dense cluster, they do make a nice display.

California Lilac

Close-up of a flowering Ceanothus 'Concha' plant in full sun against a blue sky. Shrub has slender branches covered with narrow dark green leaves. Lots of dark blue floral inflorescences are blooming on the shrub.
California Lilac produces delightful masses of purple blooms from late spring.
botanical-name botanical name Ceanothus ‘Concha’
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 4 to 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7 to 10

Despite its appearance, the California lilac is not a true lilac. Similar to lilacs, however, it produces dense masses of fragrant purple flowers. The flowers bloom from late spring into early summer and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. Leaves are tough and waxy, providing evergreen foliage.

Plant the California lilac in a sunny site with well-drained soil. This plant will grow deep, thick roots which help it withstand dry conditions. It does need occasional watering if there isn’t regular rainfall.

There are different cultivars of California lilac, some of which grow quite large and others that stay relatively small, so you can choose the shrub size that best fits your needs.

California Poppy

Close-up of flowering Eschscholzia californica flowers in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, solitary, cup-shaped, consisting of 4 rounded bright orange petals with wavy edges. The leaves are feathery, highly-dissected, and blue-green.
This is a perennial plant that produces showy bright orange flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Eschscholzia californica
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 to 10

California poppy is a beautiful, low-maintenance perennial that’s well-suited for arid climates. These plants thrive in full sun with sandy, well-drained soil. They do, however, like some regular moisture, so you may have to water them occasionally if you do not receive regular rainfall.

The California poppy is a short-lived perennial, but it readily reseeds itself if flowers are not deadheaded. The flowers bloom in mid-summer and are quite showy. The bright orange-yellow blooms look especially attractive if plants are grown in a large cluster.

Catmint

Close-up of Nepeta racemosa flowering plant in the garden. The plant consists of purple-green stems bearing grey-green, pubescent, ovate leaves with crenate margins. The flowers are small, tubular, light purple, bloom on tall racemes.
Catmint has fragrant pale green leaves and small light purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Nepeta racemosa
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 2.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

This is a member of the mint family with characteristic square stems and a fragrant leaf and flower. Like many other mints, catmint is a vigorous grower that can spread rapidly by self-seeding. Once established, it tolerates dry soils and full sun and is not bothered by deer or rabbits.

Catmint blooms anytime from late spring through early fall. The flowers are small and tubular, light purple, and bloom along tall spikes. The leaves are pale green, have a slightly quilted texture, and are covered with soft fine hairs making them slightly soft to the touch.

Creeping Thyme

Close-up of a flowering groundcover Thymus serpyllum in a sunny garden. The plant has creeping stems covered with oval evergreen leaves and lilac small flowers collected in round inflorescences.
This is a fragrant groundcover that blooms with showy purple clusters in mid-summer.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus serpyllum
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Creeping thyme is an ornamental and fragrant drought-tolerant ground cover. It typically spreads outwards by spreading, its small leaves staying evergreen in warmer climates for year-round greenery. Showy purple flower clusters bloom in mid-summer and attract butterflies and other insects.

Creeping thyme is equally at home in an herb garden, rock garden, perennial border, or grown in a container. It is a low-maintenance plant that tolerates some dry soil.

Give it a drink during prolonged drought, but make sure the soil is well-drained, as this plant does not like to stay wet. A large patch of creeping thyme in full bloom is very attractive.

Cushion Spurge

Close-up of a flowering Euphorbia polychroma plant in a sunny garden. The plant forms a globular mound with bright green, oval foliage. The tops of tall stems have pale yellow flower heads.
This plant produces cheerful yellow flowers that attract pollinators to your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Euphorbia polychroma
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Cushion spurge is a perky plant with upright stems and cheerful yellow flowers. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and attract a variety of pollinators. Plants grown in full sun will form compact mounds of vegetation that are attractive on their own, and in the fall, the leaves turn yellow-orange.

Grow cushion spurge in full sun. Soil should be loose and well-drained, and plants are quite tolerant of poor-quality soils. Spurge has a tendency to self-seed and spread rapidly, so be prepared to give it plenty of space to grow, deadhead spent blooms, or remove unwanted seedlings each spring.

Desert Spoon

Close-up of a Dasylirion wheeleri plant in a sunny garden. The plant forms a dense rosette of thin, spiky, silvery-green leaves with serrated edges and a spoon-shaped base.
This desert plant forms a dense rosette of sharp blue-gray long leaves with serrated edges.
botanical-name botanical name Dasylirion wheeleri
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4 to 8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7 to 10

Desert spoon truly looks like it belongs in the desert. This plant forms a dense rosette of thin spiky leaves. The leaves are tough and evergreen, providing year-round interest.

Leaves are a  silvery green color, and flower stalks are very tall with a thick mass of tan to off-white flowers. The flowers attract insects and other pollinators. 

The desert spoon is very well adapted to survive droughts and arid conditions. Plant it in full sun and it will thrive in your xeriscape garden. Soil should be sandy or gritty and very well-drained. You will probably never need to water the desert spoon as it is already adapted to its native desert environment.

Dragon’s Blood Sedum

Close-up of a Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood' plant. This succulent plant has fleshy, round, pale green leaves with burgundy and slightly serrated edges.
Dragon’s Blood Sedum is a drought-tolerant succulent groundcover that produces pale green leaves with a pink tint.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

If you are looking for an attractive drought-tolerant ground cover, look no further. Dragon’s blood sedum is a sweet, low-growing succulent plant that makes a great ground cover for edges and borders, rock gardens, or even as a space filler in containers.

Grow it in full sun and with well-drained soil. Give it plenty of room to fill in, as it will spread fairly quickly into a dense leafy mat.

Dragon’s blood sedum has pale green leaves tinged by pink. In mid-summer, dense clusters of dark pink flowers emerge from the ends of the leafy stems. Leaves remain evergreen throughout the year, adding plenty of winter gardening interest. This plant is typically not bothered by browsing mammals.

Drumstick Allium

Close-up of a flowering plant Allium sphaerocephalon in a salmon against a blurred green background. The plant has delightful green flower heads that turn deep pink-red when ripe.
This ornamental allium has thin fragrant leaves and globular pinkish-purple flower heads.
botanical-name botanical name Allium sphaerocephalon
plant-type plant type Bulb
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Drumstick allium, also known as round-headed leek, is an ornamental allium that’s a member of the onion family. This bulb is an excellent choice for a xeriscape garden, herb garden, or perennial garden. It grows best in a location with full sun and dry to medium-moisture well-drained soil. Plants are generally not bothered by grazing herbivores.

Drumstick allium has thin, fragrant leaves that grow rather sparsely from the bulb base. In the summer months, however, a large spherical pinkish-purple flowerhead emerges.

The flower is showy and attracts butterflies and other pollinators. Plant the drumstick allium in clusters of at least ten bulbs for the showiest flower display.

Eastern Blue Star

Close-up of a flowering plant Amsonia tabernaemontana in the garden. The plant forms erect stems with apical pyramidal clusters of pale blue, star-shaped flowers. The leaves are narrow, dull green, willow-shaped.
This is a low-maintenance plant with showy pale blue star-shaped flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Amsonia tabernaemontana
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 9

Eastern blue star is a pretty perennial wildflower that is fairly drought tolerant. This low-maintenance plant grows well in average, well-drained soils and does best in full sun, although it will also tolerate partial shade. While the eastern blue star is tolerant of some drought, it should be watered periodically during extended dry periods.

This native wildflower has showy flowers that bloom in late spring. Loose clusters of pale blue, 5-pointed star-shaped flowers add a delicate floral accompaniment to the oblong, pointed green leaves. In the fall, leaves change to an attractive seasonal yellow coloration.

Fringed Sage

Close-up of a stunted perennial Artemisia frigida. The plant is a bunch of deeply divided, soft, downy, silvery white leaves. The leaves are thin and fragrant.
This plant is a low-growing shrub with fluffy, silvery-white leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Artemisia frigida
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3 to 8
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 0.5 to 1.5 feet

Fringed sage, also commonly called prairie sagewort, produces dense masses of frilly silvery-green foliage. This plant grows in clusters with upright semi-woody stems.

The leaves and stems are both very aromatic and are not bothered by browsing herbivores. Small yellow flowers bloom in mid-summer but are not particularly showy.

Fringed sage is a great choice for a naturalized drought-resistant landscape. Plant it in full sun with loamy well-drained soil. This is an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plant. If plants start looking scraggly, prune off any dead or overgrown stems to keep the plant bushy and compact.

Furman’s Red Sage

Close-up of a flowering plant Salvia greggii 'Furman's Red' in the garden. The plant has bright green evergreen, small shiny, oval leaves. Furman's Red Sage blooms with bright red flowers.
Furman’s Red Sage is a drought-tolerant plant with bright red flowers and evergreen foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 to 10

Furman’s red sage is a brightly-blooming plant for drought-resistant gardening. This sage has a long blooming period, extending from mid-summer until fall. Bright red flowers attract hummingbirds and insects. The vegetation is fragrant, evergreen and resistant to browsing deer and rabbits.

Plant Furman’s red sage in a sunny location. This low-maintenance plant makes an excellent addition to an herb garden, rock garden, or mixed perennial garden, or grow it in a container. Soil should be loose and well-drained. Once established, this salvia is quite tolerant to hot and dry conditions.

Hens and Chicks

Close-up of a growing succulent plant Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum spp.) in a garden among large stones. Plants form beautiful dense rosettes of fleshy, oval leaves with sharp ends, bright green in color with dark red-burgundy tips.
Hens and Chicks is an excellent choice for a drought-tolerant garden, producing gorgeous large rosettes of fleshy leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Sempervivum spp.
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

There are many types of hens and chicks (genus Sempervivum), and any would be a good choice for a drought-tolerant garden. These low-growing evergreen plants will slowly spread to become a small colony of compact rosettes, with larger plants (the hens) sending out runners with smaller plants (chicks) at the ends.

Hens and chicks grow best in full sun with loose, gritty, well-drained soil. This is an excellent plant for a rock garden, xeriscape garden, or along a dry border.

Plants bloom in mid-summer with little clusters of flowers from the centers of the larger rosettes. With or without flowers, hens and chicks are a fun addition to the home garden.

Ice Plant

Close-up of a blooming Delosperma cooperi succulent plant in a garden. The plant has fleshy, linear, simple, dark green leaves and bright pink daisy-like flowers. The flowers have one row of thin long petals and whitish-pink centers.
This plant thrives well in dry soil, producing attractive bright pink flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Delosperma cooperi
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 to 10

Ice plant is a very low-maintenance plant that thrives in dry soil and full sun. It makes an effective ground cover and will spread readily, but it is not difficult to control. Soil should be well-drained and generally dry. Leaves remain evergreen throughout the year.

Ice plant is low growing and would make an attractive plant for borders and edges, along walkways or walls, or anywhere that a low cluster of greenery would be appreciated. In mid to late summer, ice plant blooms with bright pink flowers. These very showy flowers are hard to miss, and coupled with the thick succulent leaves, make this little plant a winner in the garden.

Jerusalem Sage

It is a small evergreen shrub up to 1 m (3 ft) tall and 1.5 m (5 ft) wide. Sage-like, aromatic leaves are oval, 5–10 cm long, wrinkled, grey-green with a white underside and covered with fine hairs. The plant blooms in whorls of golden yellow hooded flowers.
This evergreen plant produces clusters of showy bright yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Phlomis fruticosa
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8 to 10

Jerusalem sage is an evergreen plant with semi-woody stems. Growing between 2 and 4 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide, this plant has a very shrub-like stature. The leaves are fuzzy and pale green. From late spring through early summer, Jerusalem sage produces clusters of downward-curving, showy, bright yellow flowers.

Jerusalem sage can be grown in cooler climates, but the entire plant may die back to the ground each year. As long as the roots survive, vegetative growth will reappear in the spring. In warmer climate zones, stems and leaves will remain evergreen throughout the year.

Lavender

Close-up of a blooming Lavandula angustifolia against a blurred background. The plant has long thin stems on the apical spikes of which grow whorled purple flowers.
Lavender has fragrant silvery green leaves and tiny fragrant purple whorled flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula angustifolia
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 8

Many herbs are drought-tolerant, and lavender is no exception. Lavender has fragrant silvery-green leaves and semi-woody stems.

Leaves remain evergreen in warmer climates but may die off and regrow in the cooler parts of their range. Tiny purple flowers bloom in the summer months and attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Lavender is best grown in full sun. This plant needs average-quality, well-drained soil. It does not do well in areas with high humidity and constantly moist soils, as it is prone to mildew and rot. This drought-tolerant plant is an excellent candidate to grow in containers, in a rock garden, herb garden, or with other mixed perennials.

Lavender Cotton

Close-up of a flowering plant Santolina chamaecyparissus in a sunny garden. The plant forms alternate, crowded, densely pectinate-dentate gray leaves and blooms with delicate small bright yellow flowers of a semi-circular shape, with flat tops resembling buttons.
Lavender Cotton is a fragrant and evergreen plant that produces pale yellow flowers set against dense, gray pectinate-dentate leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Santolina chamaecyparissus
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 to 9

This interesting little plant has tiny silvery-green leaves that are both fragrant and evergreen. The leaves grow densely along low-growing stems that branch and sprawl, making this an excellent ground cover. Pale yellow flowers bloom atop taller stems during the mid-summer months, providing a showy display.

In cooler climates, lavender cotton can still be grown, but as an annual. In zones 6 through 9, it is an evergreen perennial, adding some garden interest during the winter months.

Grow lavender cotton in a location with full sun and very well-drained soil. If it starts to sprawl too much and looks messy, prune it back to help maintain more compact growth.

Lead Plant

A close-up of an Amorpha canescens flowering plant in full sun. The plant is a deciduous shrub with thin, dense spike-shaped clusters of purple flowers with golden anthers. The plant has alternate, pinnately compound leaves with dark green oval leaflets.
Lead Plant prefers to grow in full sun, adapting well to dry conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Amorpha canescens
plant-type plant type Deciduous shrub
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 to 9

This is an appealing drought-tolerant shrub that does well in dry locations. Plant it in full sun with average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil. In cold winters, the above-ground parts of the plant may die back, but it will regrow the following spring.

This native plant is well adapted to dry conditions and makes a valuable addition to a xeriscape garden.

Silvery green leaves are pinnately compound and have an almost fern-like appearance. In mid-summer to mid-fall, lead plant produces long spikes of purple flowers that attract butterflies and birds. Although lead plant doesn’t get very tall, it can grow to be rather unruly looking. If this happens, prune it back to encourage more dense growth.

Licorice Plant

Close-up of a growing Helichrysum petiolare ground cover plant in a garden. The plant has fluffy greyish-green, velvety, heart-shaped leaves.
Licorice Plant is a fast-growing plant with soft, velvety, pale green foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Helichrysum petiolare
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9 to 11

If you live in hardiness zones 9 through 11, you can grow licorice plants as perennials. Otherwise, it’s still worth growing as an annual.

This fast-growing trailing plant makes an effective ground cover in a rock garden, herb garden, or xeriscape, as well as an excellent candidate for container gardening. If growing in a container, you can take cuttings in the fall, root them indoors, and plant them out again the following spring.

Licorice plant has soft, velvety leaves that are pale green in color. Leaves are aromatic with a hint of licorice. Flowers are small and white, blooming in clusters during mid-summer, although the flowers are not particularly showy. This plant thrives in full sun, with average-quality well-drained soil.

Lindheimer’s Beeblossom

Close-up of a flowering plant Gaura lindheimeri. The plant blooms with showy, 4-petalled flowers of delicate pinkish color with prominent white-pink stamens with burgundy-brown anthers.
Lindheimer’s Beeblossom is a perennial plant that blooms in late summer with showy white flowers that gradually turn pink.
botanical-name botanical name Gaura lindheimeri
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3 to 5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Lindbeimer’s beeblossom is an herbaceous perennial that can grow rather tall and bushy. It would look at home in a naturalized area where it can grow to its full potential with other native plants and wildflowers.

From late summer until mid fall, Lindheimer’s beeblossom blooms, producing an abundance of showy white flowers that slowly fade to pink.

Grow Lindheimer’s beeblossom in a location with full sun. Make sure it has well-drained soil that is sandy or loamy. This plant develops a long taproot, making it quite tolerant of drought, but during extended dry spells, it still appreciates an occasional drink of water. Pruning may be desired if plants get too tall and leggy.

Mexican Cardinal Flower

Close-up of blooming flowers of the Lobelia laxiflora plant in a sunny garden. The flowers are tubular, red with a yellowish tint on the inside of the petals. The leaves are dark green, oval, with pointed ends and serrated edges.
Mexican Cardinal Flower grows well in both full sun and partial shade and prefers regular and deep watering.
botanical-name botanical name Lobelia laxiflora
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9 to 11

The native range of the Mexican cardinal flower extends from southern Arizona into Mexico, making it well adapted to hot, dry climates. This plant does well in full sun but also likes some afternoon shade. Soil should be well-drained.

Young plants require more water, and established plants will become more drought-resistant, though they still appreciate regular deep waterings.

Mexican cardinal flower is a very attractive plant. It grows upright stems up to about 3 feet tall. Plants will slowly spread and can be divided as needed or allowed to naturalize in a larger area. Stems are lined with thin, dark green leaves. The real star is the flowers. Bright red tubular flowers bloom from mid to late summer and are a favorite of hummingbirds.

Mojave Sage

Close-up of the blooming flowers of the Salvia pachyphylla plant. The plant has large, spiked, densely packed, deep purple whorls that support elongated blue flowers.
This plant has silvery green fragrant leaves and purplish-blue flowers arranged in long upright clusters.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia pachyphylla
plant-type plant type Evergreen perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 10

Mojave sage is a colorful plant that is easy to grow and tolerant of drought and arid conditions. Plant this sage in full sun in an herb garden, rock garden, xeriscape, or with other perennials. It can also be grown in a container. Soil should be of average quality, low to medium moisture, and well-drained.

The Mojave sage has silvery pale green leaves that have a distinctive aroma. Leaves grow along upright stems. These plants have a long blooming period and produce very showy flower clusters all summer.

The flowers are purplish-blue and develop in long upright clusters surrounded by showy pinkish-purple bracts. The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Moonshine Yarrow

Close-up of a flowering yarrow in a sunny garden. The plant produces a dense mass of tiny bright yellow flowers in flat clumps on tall, pale green stems. Leaves are silvery green, and feathery.
Moonshine Yarrow produces a mass of bright yellow flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators to your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea ‘Moonshine’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

There are many cultivars of yarrow. ‘Moonshine’ develops a dense mass of bright yellow flowers from mid to late summer. The flowers are very showy and attract butterflies and other insects. Yarrow also makes a good, long-lasting cut flower.

The ‘Moonshine’ yarrow grows well in dry conditions and full sun. Soil should be loose and well drained. This plant grows vigorously by runners, and the silvery-green fern-like leaves make a good ground cover. If yarrow becomes too dense, the clumps can be easily divided every few years.

Narrowleaf Evening-primrose

Close-up of a flowering plant Oenothera fruticosa against dark green foliage. Flowers 4-petalled, cup-shaped, bright yellow. Leaves are lanceolate, bluish-green.
This plant grows well in full sun and produces bright yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Oenothera fruticosa
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5 to 2.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

Narrowleaf evening primrose is a perennial wildflower native to eastern North America. Although it may be associated with wetter and more humid climates, it is tolerant of dry soils and occasional drought.

This low-maintenance plant does best in full sun and well-drained soil. If the leaves die back after flowering, simply prune them back to the basal rosette, and they should regrow the following spring.

This plant produces showy yellow flowers from mid-summer until fall. Flowers are bright yellow and while each individual flower is short-lived, the plant produces many flowers in succession over several weeks.

Despite its name, the narrowleaf evening-primrose blooms during the daytime. Plants spread over time by self-seeding and by vegetative growth. Overgrown clumps can be easily divided as needed.

Pink Muhlygrass

Growing Muhlenbergia capillaris plant in a sunny garden. Ornamental grass has stiff, erect, linear leaves and a mass of airy branched pink buds that form a pink haze at the top of the plant.
This ornamental grass has thin green leaves and many small pink flowers that create a pink haze at the top of the plant.
botanical-name botanical name Muhlenbergia capillaris
plant-type plant type Ornamental grass
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Pink muhlygrass is a very showy ornamental grass that tolerates a wide range of conditions but prefers full sun and dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil. This plant would be a great addition to a rock garden, perennial garden, xeriscape, or any sunny location in need of an accent grass.

From spring until early fall, pink muhlygrass grows in a dense clump of long, thin, tubular, green leaves. In early autumn, it shoots up a number of taller flower heads. The flowers bloom all together creating a fine pink haze across the top of the plant.

A large clump or cluster of muhlygrass in full bloom is a very appealing sight. This plant will reproduce by self-seeding, and clumps can be divided and transplanted if they become too large. You can also make additional clusters of muhlygrass to enjoy the following fall.

Poppy Mallow

Close-up of many blooming wildflowers of Callirhoe involucrata in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, cupped, 5-petalled, poppy-like, bright purple with white centers and pale yellow stamens. The leaves are rounded, pubescent with deep lobes and crevices.
This perennial wildflower grows well in dry conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Callirhoe involucrata
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Poppy mallow, also known as purple poppy mallow or winecups, is a pretty native wildflower that performs well in dry conditions. This is a great choice for a drought-tolerant garden, rock garden, or native wildflower garden. Plant poppy mallow in full sun with average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil.

This low-maintenance perennial is quite showy and worthy of attention. It has deeply lobed, bright green leaves with slightly hairy stems. From late spring into early summer, poppy mallow bursts into bloom. The flowers are very showy in a bright, deep fuschia or maroon color.

Prickly Pear

Close-up of many growing Prickly Pear cacti (Opuntia spp) in a sunny garden. This perennial, leafless, succulent shrub has flattened, thick, flattened stems in the form of pads covered with sharp thorns. On the tops of the stems, pear-shaped, bristly, reddish-purple fruits grow.
Prickly Pear prefers full sun and sandy soil.
botanical-name botanical name Opuntia spp
plant-type plant type Cactus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 to 15 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 10

There are several species of prickly pear cactus, each native to a different region and each growing to a different height. The smaller varieties are low-growing and typically stay under one foot tall. The larger varieties, however, can reach a whopping fifteen feet tall. They all grow best in full sun and dry, gritty soil.

Prickly pear cactus have thick flattened evergreen pads with an abundance of sharp spines. Between the obvious longer spines are clusters of tiny spines that can be very painful if they become embedded in the skin.

Despite its obvious (and not so obvious) hazards, this cactus is worthy of growing in the xeriscape landscape. The flowers are large and showy, blooming in an array of bright colors, including yellow, orange, and pink.

Prickly Thrift

Close-up of the blooming flowers of the Acantholimon glumaceum plant against a blurred background of pointed pale silvery green leaves. The flowers are small, tubular, pale pink in color with white stamens in the centers.
This evergreen has tiny pointed leaves and linear clusters of small, pale pink flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Acantholimon glumaceum
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Prickly thrift is an unusual-looking plant. It has tiny, pointy, evergreen leaves. The leaves are pale silvery green and stay in low bunches close to the ground. In early summer, linear spikes of little pale pink trumpet-shaped flowers appear. A mass of prickly thrift in full bloom is quite showy.

This is an excellent bunching ground cover for a rock garden, xeriscape garden, or other dry edge or border. Plant prickly thrift in a location with full sun and dry to medium moisture soil. Soil should be well-drained and can be gravelly or gritty.

Purple Lovegrass

Close-up of ornamental grass Eragrostis spectabilis in a sunny garden. The plant has flat, rough, basal, green leaves that form an unorganized clump. The flowers are tiny, reddish-purple in a loose open inflorescence, forming an air cloud over the leaves of the plant.
This ornamental grass grows well in full sun and prefers dry, sandy soil.
botanical-name botanical name Eragrostis spectabilis
plant-type plant type Ornamental grass
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Purple lovegrass is a clump-forming ornamental grass that looks great planted in multiples. A single plant makes an attractive addition to the xeriscape garden, but a cluster of many plants creates a spectacular autumn haze while in bloom.

The leafy green clumps of summer become covered with a dense cloudy blanket of delicate pink-tinged flowers. The plants provide excellent cover for ground-dwelling birds who also forage for the seeds during the autumn and winter months.

Plant purple lovegrass in full sun. This plant prefers dry, sandy, or loamy soil. It can tolerate a range of inhospitable conditions, including heat, sun, and drought. This plant will spread and can be propagated by division as well as self-seeding.

Rattlesnake Master

Close-up of a flowering plant Eryngium yuccifolium against a blurred greenish-yellow background. This plant has whitish-green globular flower heads that consist of many tiny white flowers with long white stamens.
This unique plant produces spiky greenish-white round flowers that attract pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium yuccifolium
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

Rattlesnake master is an interesting plant to grow. It would be a wonderful addition to a xeriscape garden, rock garden, or mixed perennials.

This plant grows a long taproot, making it difficult to transplant, but well-adapted to drought. Grow rattlesnake master in full sun with average, dryish, well-drained soil.

Rattlesnake master looks a bit like a yucca, with a rosette of long slender leaves that are serrated along the edges. In mid-summer, a tall flower stalk develops, producing several spiky, greenish-white, orblike flowers. The flowers are not showy in the traditional sense, but they are quite unique, and attract pollinators.

Rose Moss

Close-up of a blooming succulent groundcover Portulaca grandiflora in a garden. Medium sized, single, double, white, purple and coral flowers bloom surrounded by dark green foliage. The leaves are fleshy, narrow, arranged alternately.
This annual drought-tolerant plant produces very showy double flowers in a variety of colors.
botanical-name botanical name Portulaca grandiflora
plant-type plant type Annual
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.75 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2 to 11

Rose moss is an annual that is widely available and easily grown in dry locations. Plant it in a rock garden, along borders and edges, as a temporary ground cover, or in a container. This plant does best in a location with full sun and well-drained average-quality soils. Although it is an annual, rose moss may self-seed in favorable conditions.

Rose moss is commonly used as a ground cover. Plants are vigorous and low-growing, creating a summertime carpet of tiny green leaves along trailing stems.

Plants bloom in early summer and continue blooming until the first frost. Flowers are very showy and come in many colors, including pink, red, orange, yellow, and white.

Russian Sage

Close-up of Perovskia atriplicifolia flowering plant in a sunny garden. The plant has elongated grey-green leaves and tiny light purple-blue tubular flowers in whorls on long stems.
Russian Sage is a perennial that produces tall racemes of small, showy, light purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Perovskia atriplicifolia
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3 to 5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

This herbaceous to semi-woody perennial does well in sunny, warm, dry conditions. Its fragrant leaves are resistant to deer and rabbits. The fragrant flowers bloom from mid-summer until mid-fall and attract butterflies and other pollinators. Flowers develop along tall, sprawling spikes and are small but very showy, especially en masse, covering the plant with light purplish-blue blossoms.

This plant would look great in any xeriscape garden, herb garden, or rock garden. Grow it along with other perennials, or grow it in a large container. Soil should be loose and very well drained.

If the plant becomes too large or scraggly looking, give it a heavy pruning in the spring to keep it more compact. Russian sage will also spread by root suckers. These can be left to naturalize a larger area, divided and transplanted, or simply removed as needed.

Sea Holly

Close-up of a flowering plant Eryngium planum 'Blaukappe' against a green blurred background. The flowers of the plant have blue cones at the base of which there is a characteristic collar of a bluish-purple bract.
This interesting plant is drought tolerant and prefers to grow in full sun with dry, loamy soil.
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium planum ‘Blaukappe’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 8

The sea holly is a very interesting-looking plant. Large rosettes of extremely spiky leaves give rise to tall flowering stems. At the top of the flowering stems are the most unusual-looking flowers. These are spiky orbs with showy bracts that range in color from pale silvery green to lavender and attracts pollinators.

Not only is the sea holly fascinating to look at, it’s also easy to grow. It does best in full sun with dry, loamy, well-drained soil. Sea holly, like other Eryngiums, develops a deep tap root, which makes it both very drought tolerant, but also difficult to transplant once established.

Shasta Daisy

Close-up of blooming flowers of the plant Leucanthemum x superbum 'Snowcap' in a sunny garden. The flowers are large, solitary, consisting of elongated oval snow-white petals arranged around large round golden-yellow centers.
Shasta Daisy is a short-lived perennial that prefers full sun and can adapt well to dry conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Don’t let the variety ‘Snowcap’ fool you, this shasta daisy is well adapted to hot and dry conditions. Plant shasta daisy in full sun, with dry to medium moisture well-drained soil.

Shasta daisies are short-lived perennials and can also be grown as annuals. They readily reseed themselves and keep their place in the garden, even though individual plants may die back every few years.

Shasta daisy is a low-maintenance plant. It is resistant to browsing herbivores, and the flowers attract pollinators. Blooming in the summer months, flowers are showy, with a very traditional white daisy-like appearance with bold yellow centers.

Slender Mountain Mint

Close-up of a flowering plant Pycnanthemum tenuifolium against a green leafy blurred background. This herbaceous perennial has sharp, bright green, almost needle-like leaves and abundant apical clusters of small white flowers.
This plant produces thin green leaves with a sweet minty scent and clusters of tiny white flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Pycnanthemum tenuifolium
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Slender mountain mint is a beautiful mint plant with thin green leaves and a sweetly minty fragrance. In mid-summer, clusters of tiny white flowers bloom, which attract numerous butterflies, bees, and other insects. Because of their minty scent, they are not bothered by deer or rabbits.

Choose a location with full sun for these plants to grow more compactly. They will tolerate light shade but will tend to sprawl and get leggy. Soil should be loose and well drained. This would be a great plant for a meadow garden or other naturalized area, an herb garden, or with any low-maintenance perennial arrangement.

Sunset Hyssop

Close-up of blooming flowers of the Agastache rupestris plant in a sunny garden surrounded by thin, pale green foliage. Many small tubular orange-red flowers bloom on tall thin stems.
This perennial produces delightful reddish-orange flowers that attract hummingbirds.
botanical-name botanical name Agastache rupestris
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 10

Sunset hyssop is a beautiful plant to add to your xeriscape landscape. Leaves are fine and feathery, giving it a delicate appearance. From mid-summer into fall, sunset hyssop blooms with a multitude of small, tubular flowers. Flowers are reddish-orange and attract hummingbirds and a variety of insects.

Sunset hyssop thrives in a location with full sun and well-drained soil. This plant is well adapted to the arid xeriscape landscape. Sunset hyssop is easy-to-grow and low-maintenance. Any dead stems can be pruned to ground level to keep the plant bushy and attractive.

Trumpet Vine

Close-up of the four flowering flowers of the Campsis radicans plant against a backdrop of bright green complex odd-pinnate foliage. The flowers are large, broadly tubular, reddish-orange.
Trumpet Vine is a drought-tolerant vine that produces long tubular deep orange flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Campsis radicans
plant-type plant type Vine
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 25 to 40 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

Although trumpet vine is native to the humid southeastern United States, it does surprisingly well as part of a xeriscape garden. A well-established plant is drought-tolerant and does well in hot, dry locations. This perennial climbing vine has bright orange flowers.

During extended dry periods, give it an occasional hearty drink of water. The long, tubular, deep orange flowers attract hummingbirds.

Trumpet vine is tolerant of many growing conditions and will spread by underground runners and self-seeding. This is also a vigorous climbing vine and needs some sort of upright structure upon which to grow. Trumpet vine can grow up into a tree, along a fence or wall, or over an arbor or trellis.

Turquoise Tails Blue Sedum

Close-up of a growing ground cover succulent plant Sedum sediforme (Turquoise Tails Blue Sedum). The plant has low stems, covered with greenish-blue fleshy leaves of a rounded shape with pointed ends.
This sedum variety is a succulent ground cover that produces tiny greenish-blue fleshy leaves along the stems.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum sediforme
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 10

Turquoise tails blue sedum is a low-growing succulent ground cover. As it spreads, it forms a mat of tiny greenish-blue foliage along creeping stems.

Flowers bloom in the summer months as upright clusters of pale yellow flowers. The flowers attract butterflies and other insects, while the plants are resistant to browsing herbivores.

Turquoise tails blue sedum grows best in a location with full sun. This plant thrives in average-quality well-drained soils with dry to medium moisture. Sedum is an excellent choice for a xeriscape garden, rock garden, or along borders and edges. The foliage is attractive on its own and remains evergreen throughout the year.

Whale’s Tongue Agave

Close-up of the succulent Agave ovatifolia in a sunny garden. The succulent forms a large, rounded rosette of short, wide, cupped, gray leaves. The leaves have small purple teeth along the edges.
Whale’s Tongue Agave produces a large leafy rosette in silvery green.
botanical-name botanical name Agave ovatifolia
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7 to 11

Whale’s tongue agave has thick, broad, evergreen leaves that grow in a large leafy rosette. Each leaf is edged with stout spines, so be careful when handling this plant.

The foliage is silvery green and very eye-catching. This plant can grow quite large, as much as 4 to 6 feet across at maturity, so be sure to allow it plenty of space to grow. Plant it in full sun with average, dry, well-drained soil.

If you are lucky enough to convince your whale’s tongue agave to flower, be prepared for a stunning sight! The flower stalks may grow to 14 feet tall and are immensely thick and sturdy. This plant flowers only once, between 10 and 20 years of age, and after flowering, the leaves will die. Plants will reproduce by seeds and offshoots.

Wild Bergamot

Close-up of many blooming flowers of the Monarda fistulosa plant in a garden. The flowers are light purple in color, tubular, two-lipped in the form of dense spherical inflorescences. The leaves are small, lanceolate, dark green.
This stunning drought-tolerant plant produces tubular, pale purple flowers in dense clusters.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda fistulosa
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 9

Wild bergamot is an attractive native plant that is surprisingly drought-tolerant. This plant is found naturally in dry prairie soils and is well adapted to full sun and low water. It does best in an area with good air circulation as it is prone to powdery mildew.

Wild bergamot is a member of the mint family and has square stems and aromatic leaves, and flowers. The flowers are tubular and pale purple and bloom in dense clusters. Flowers bloom from mid to late summer and attract many pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies.

Final Thoughts

With so many beautiful choices for drought-tolerant plants, you should have no trouble finding some great options for your xeriscape garden. Just be sure to select plants that will perform well in your local climate zone.

All of the plants listed here will appreciate loose, well-drained soil, but don’t forget to give them a drink of water immediately after planting to help minimize transplanting shock. Enjoy selecting a variety of showy plants with a wide variety of growing habits, colors, and textures!

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