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Drought-Tolerant Perennials

By: Garden Gate staff
Looking for drought-tolerant plants? Check out our list of 52 perennials that will not only survive but thrive without a lot of extra watering.

Many perennials have special mechanisms to help them survive, especially when it comes to drought. Here are a few characteristics that help plants survive drought:

  • Deep roots that go down where the soil stays cool and moist much longer than it does near the surface.
  • Fleshy tubers that store water to be used in times of drought.
  • Waxy leaves so moisture won’t evaporate out very fast.
  • Fuzzy leaves to protect them from the drying sun and wind.

You might also like our drought-tolerant garden plan

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.

Drought-tolerant perennials

Plant name / Botanical name Cold zones Plant description
Agastache Agastache spp. and hybrids 5 to 10 Spikes of lavender, pink or orange in summer
Ajuga Ajuga reptans 3 to 10 Ground cover with green, bronze or variegated foliage; spikes of blue or pink flowers in spring
Anthemis Anthemis tinctoria 3 to 8 Yellow or white daisies much of the summer
Artemisia Artemisia versicolor ‘Seafoam’ 4 to 10 Low mat of fine-textured silver-gray foliage; most other artemisias are also drought tolerant
Baby’s breath Gypsophila paniculata 3 to 9 Billows of tiny white flowers in summer
Basket-of-gold Aurinia saxatilis 3 to 7 Low mat of bright-yellow flowers in early spring
Bearded iris Iris hybrid 3 to 9 Wide variety of colors in late spring
Bishop’s weed Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ 3 to 9 Vigorous ground cover with variegated leaves
Blanket flower Gaillardia grandiflora 3 to 9 Mahogany-red flowers with yellow edges much of the summer; most blanket flower species are drought tolerant
Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa 4 to 9 Glowing orange flowers in summer
Candytuft Iberis sempervirens 4 to 9 Low clumps of white flowers mid- to late spring
Catmint Nepeta spp. 3 to 9 Spikes of lavender-blue flowers in late spring
Cushion spurge Euphorbia polychroma 4 to 8 Dome-shaped mound with bright-yellow bracts in late spring
Daylily Hemerocallis hybrids 3 to 9 Wide variety of colors that bloom mostly in summer
False indigo Baptisia australis 3 to 9 Spikes of deep-blue flowers in late spring
Garden pinks Dianthus gratianopolitanus 3 to 9 Mounds of fragrant pink flowers in late spring
Gaura Gaura lindheimeri 5 to 10 Tall spires of pink or white flowers in summer
Gazania Gazania spp. 6 to 10 Shades of orange and yellow in early spring
Germander Teucrium chamaedrys 4 to 9 Pale-pink to deep-purple flowers in late summer
Goldenrod Solidago spp. 4 to 9 Sprays of golden-yellow flowers in late summer
Hardy ice plant Delosperma cooperi 5 to 10 Ground cover with bright pink flowers all summer
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis 4 to 9 Spikes of blue or pink flowers in midsummer
Jupiter’s beard Centranthus ruber 5 to 8 Rosy pink flowers in late spring
Lamb’s ears Stachys byzantina 4 to 9 Mounds of gray leaves and spikes of magenta flowers in summer
Lavender Lavender spp. 5 to 10 Spikes of fragrant blue-purple flowers in summer
Lavender cotton Santolina chamaecyparissus 5 to 10 Yellow button flowers in summer; aromatic gray foliage
Mallow Malva sylvestris 4 to 9 Mauve-purple flowers with stripes on the outside in late summer
Missouri primrose Oenothera macrocarpa 4 to 8 Large yellow flowers much of the summer; most Oenothera species are drought tolerant
Mullein Verbascum bombyciferum 4 to 8 Tall spires of yellow flowers in mid- to late summer
Orange globe mallow Sphaeralcea munroana 4 to 9 Wands of orange flowers in midsummer
Oriental poppy Papaver orientale 3 to 7 Often brightly colored papery flowers in spring
Ornamental onion Allium senescens 3 to 8 Lavender or pink flowers in late summer; most alliums are drought tolerant
Penstemon Penstemon spp. and hybrids 4 to 11 Large family of drought-tolerant plants with spike flowers in many colors
Peony Paeonia lactiflora 3 to 8 Mounds of white, pink or red flowers in spring
Poppy mallow Callirhoe involucrata 4 to 8 Wine-red, white -eyed flowers much of the summer
Prairie zinnia Zinnia grandiflora 4 to 9 Deep-yellow flowers from late summer into fall
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea 4 to 9 Carmine-pink daisies in late summer
Red hot poker Kniphofia uvaria 4 to 10 Orange and yellow spikes in summer
Rough blazing star Liatris aspera 3 to 9 Spikes of rosy purple flowers in summer
Russian sage Perovskia atriplicifolia 4 to 9 Spires of lavender-violet flowers in late summer
Sage Salvia spp. 5 to 9 Spikes of blue, pink or white flowers in summer; many drought-tolerant species and hybrids
Sea lavender Limonium latifolium 3 to 9 Airy panicles of lavender-blue flowers in late summer
Snow-in-summer Cerastium tomentosum 3 to 7 Gray-foliaged ground cover with white flowers in late spring
Stokes’ aster Stokesia laevis 5 to 9 Lavender-blue or pink chrysanthemum-like flowers in summer
Tall sedum Hylotelephium hybrids 3 to 9 Flat clusters of pink, white or rust in late summer
Threadleaf coreopsis Coreopsis verticillata 3 to 9 Small yellow daisies much of the summer
Thyme Thymus serpyllum 4 to 9 Mat-forming ground cover with pink or white flowers in spring; most thyme species are drought tolerant
Verbena Verbena bipinnatifida 3 to 8 Magenta-pink flowers all summer; many other verbena species are drought tolerant
Veronica Veronica spicata 3 to 8 Spikes of blue, pink or white flowers in summer
Yarrow Achillea filipendulina 3 to 8 Dark-yellow flower clusters in summer
Yucca Yucca spp. 4 to 10 Tall spires of creamy white flowers in summer; spiky evergreen foliage
Published: April 30, 2012

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