Issue 70, 76
Drought-Tolerant Plants

Monarch butterfly
Many perennials have special mechanisms to help them survive, especially when it comes to drought. Some have deep roots that go down where the soil stays cool and moist much longer than it does near the surface. Or they may have fleshy tubers that store water to be used in times of drought. Other plants have waxy leaves so moisture won’t evaporate out very fast. Still others have fuzzy leaves to protect them from the drying sun and wind.

Here is a list of 52 perennials that will grow fine in dry conditions. However, no plant can survive without any moisture. Even if they are tolerant of dry soil, make sure to keep all plants well-watered until they’re fully established in your garden. And they’ll do better with a deep watering when you see them beginning to wilt.

Plant
name
Cold/Heat
Zones
Comments
Agastache Agastache spp. and
hybrids
5 to 10/
10 to 1
Spikes of lavender, pink or orange in
summer
Ajuga Ajuga reptans
3 to 10/
10 to 1
Ground cover with green, bronze or variegated
foliage; spikes of blue or pink flowers in spring
Anthemis
Anthemis tinctoria
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Yellow or white daisies much of the summer
Artemisia Artemisia versicolor
‘Seafoam’
4 to 10/
10 to 1
Low mat of fine-textured silver-gray
foliage; most other artemisias are also drought tolerant
Baby’s breath Gypsophila paniculata
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Billows of tiny white flowers in summer
Basket-of-gold
Aurinia saxatilis
3 to 7/
7 to 1
Low mat of bright-yellow flowers in early
spring
Bearded iris Iris hybrid
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Wide variety of colors in late spring
Bishop’s weed Aegopodium podagraria
‘Variegatum’
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Vigorous ground cover with variegated
leaves
Blanket flower Gaillardia grandiflora
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Mahogany-red flowers with yellow edges
much of the summer; most blanket flower species are drought
tolerant
Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Glowing orange flowers in summer
Candytuft
Iberis sempervirens
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Low clumps of white flowers mid- to late
spring
Catmint Nepeta spp.
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Spikes of lavender-blue flowers in late
spring
Cushion spurge Euphorbia polychroma
4 to 8/
8 to 1
Dome-shaped mound with bright-yellow
bracts in late spring
Daylily
Hemerocallis
hybrids
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Wide variety of colors that bloom mostly
in summer
False indigo
Baptisia australis
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Spikes of deep-blue flowers in late spring
Garden pinks Dianthus gratianopolitanus
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Mounds of fragrant pink flowers in late
spring
Gaura
Gaura lindheimeri
5 to 10/
10 to 1
Tall spires of pink or white flowers
in summer
Gazania Gazania spp.
6 to 10/
12 to 1
Shades of orange and yellow in early spring
Germander
Teucrium chamaedrys
4 to 9/
9 to 4
Pale-pink to deep-purple
flowers in late summer
Globe thistle
Echinops ritro
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Globes of metallic-blue flowers in summer
Goldenrod
Solidago
spp.
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Sprays of golden-yellow
flowers in late summer
Hardy ice plant Delosperma cooperi
5 to 10/
10 to 1
Ground cover with bright-pink flowers
all summer
Hyssop
Hyssopus officinalis
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Spikes of blue or pink
flowers in midsummer
Jupiter’s beard Centranthus
ruber
5 to 8/
8 to 1
Rosy pink flowers in late spring
Lamb’s ears
Stachys byzantina
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Mounds of gray leaves
and spikes of magenta flowers in summer
Lavender
Lavender
spp.
5 to 10/
10 to 1
Spikes of fragrant blue-purple flowers
in summer
Lavender cotton Santolina
chamaecyparissus
5 to 10/
10 to 1
Yellow button flowers
in summer; aromatic gray foliage
Mallow Malva sylvestris
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Mauve-purple flowers with stripes on the
outside in late summer
Missouri primrose Oenothera
macrocarpa
4 to 8/
8 to 1
Large yellow flowers
much of the summer; most Oenothera species are
drought tolerant
Mullein Verbascum bombyciferum
4 to 8/
8 to 1
Tall spires of yellow flowers in mid-
to late summer
Orange globe mallow
Sphaeralcea munroana
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Wands of orange flowers
in midsummer

Oriental poppy
Papaver orientale

3 to 7/
7 to 1
Often brightly colored papery flowers
in spring
Ornamental onion Allium
senescens
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Lavender or pink flowers
in late summer; most alliums are drought tolerant
Penstemon Penstemon spp. and
hybrids
4 to 11/
12 to 1
Large family of drought-tolerant plants
with spike flowers in many colors
Peony
Paeonia lactiflora
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Mounds of white, pink
or red flowers in spring
Poppy mallow Callirhoe involucrata
4 to 8/
8 to 1
Wine-red, white -eyed flowers much of
the summer
Prairie zinnia
Zinnia grandiflora
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Deep-yellow flowers
from late summer into fall
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Carmine-pink daisies in late summer
Red hot poker Kniphofia
uvaria
4 to 10/
10 to 1
Orange and yellow spikes
in summer
Rough blazing star
Liatris aspera
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Spikes of rosy purple flowers in summer
Russian sage Perovskia
atriplicifolia
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Spires of lavender-violet
flowers in late summer
Sage Salvia
spp.
5 to 9/
9 to 1
Spikes of blue, pink
or white flowers in summer; many drought-tolerant species
and hybrids
Sea lavender Limonium
latifolium
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Airy panicles of lavender-blue
flowers in late summer
Snow-in-summer Cerastium
tomentosum
3 to 7/
7 to 1
Gray-foliaged ground
cover with white flowers in late spring
Stokes’ aster

Stokesia laevis
5 to 9/
9 to 1
Lavender-blue or pink
chrysanthemum-like flowers in summer
Tall sedum
Sedum spectabile
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Flat clusters of pink,
white or rust in late summer
Threadleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis verticillata
3 to 9/
9 to 1
Small yellow daisies
much of the summer
Thyme
Thymus serphyllum
4 to 9/
9 to 1
Mat-forming ground
cover with pink or white flowers in spring; most thyme species
are drought tolerant
Verbena
Verbena bipinnatifida
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Magenta-pink flowers
all summer; many other verbena species are drought tolerant
Veronica
Veronica spicata
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Spikes of blue, pink
or white flowers in summer
Yarrow
Achillea filipendulina
3 to 8/
8 to 1
Dark-yellow flower
clusters in summer
Yucca Yucca
spp.
4 to 10/
10 to 1
Tall spires of creamy
white flowers in summer; spiky evergreen foliage