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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.

What helps make a perennial drought-tolerant?

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.

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Drought-tolerant perennials

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
Botanical name
Cold hardiness 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
Updated: Sept. 28, 2023
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