If you live in a dry region, or are aiming to help the environment by planting a water-wise garden, you may be wondering exactly what you can plant.
You’ll be glad to hear there is a fantastic array of succulents, grasses, and flowers that thrive in low-water conditions. Check out these 20 beautiful drought tolerant garden plants:
1. Golden Barrel Cactus
This desert native is a slow-growing round plant which can grow up to four feet tall. Preferring full sun and well-drained soil, it blooms throughout spring and summer, showing off its pretty yellow flowers.
The Golden Barrel Cactus requires little care and attention, and is suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11.
2. Aloe Vera
Every garden or home should have an Aloe Vera plant. This versatile succulent – named the ‘plant of immortality’ by ancient Egyptians because it is almost impossible to kill – has a myriad of uses and offers several health benefits.
The juice of the Aloe (which you can make at home) is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and promotes healthy digestive function. The gel is an effective topical treatment for bug bites, minor cuts and burns, and dry skin.
Aloe Vera plants seem to thrive on neglect, and require very little watering.
These plants, of which there are several varieties, are ideal for areas of the yard that are too sunny or too dry to grow anything else!
One of the easiest ways you can kill a Sedum is by overwatering it. Simply leave these pretty succulents alone all summer long and they will thrive without your intervention.
Be sure to choose a Sedum variety that is suited to your location, as some require warmer climates, while others do well to USDA zone 3.
4. Hens and Chicks
This alpine plant grows perfectly in a rockery or other dry location, although it is better suited to warmer locations (between 65 and 75 F).
So called because each plant produces numerous ‘babies’, Hens and Chicks require full sun yet should rarely be watered.
5. Blue Oat Grass
A low-maintenance evergreen Mediterranean plant, this calming blue-green grass looks great in almost any backyard. In summer, it produces flowers from the tips.
Blue Oat Grass thrives in full sun to light shade. It’s both drought-tolerant and deer resistant, and is suited to USDA zones 4 to 8.
6. Cliff Maids
These stunning flowers – which come in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white – are members of the Lewisia species.
Native to North America, Cliff Maids do best in drier areas with partial shade, such as rock gardens, wall crevices, and between paving stones. They are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.
7. Blue Sage
Growing up to 6 feet tall, with gray-green foliage and bright blue flowers that bloom extensively in late summer, the Blue Sage is as beautiful as it is hardy. It’s also a great plant to attract pollinators to your garden.
This wildflower can be found in rocky prairies, shaded limestone glades, and open woodlands and is an excellent choice for dry and arid regions. Those in zones 4 to 9 should find Blue Sage thrives in full sun or partial shade, and in dry, sandy or loamy soil.
A gorgeous little half-hardy annual, the Brachycome is native to Western Australia and so is able to survive well in loamy or even sandy soil, although it does require full sun.
Once established, Brachyscome is surprisingly drought tolerant. In colder weather, it will require protection from the elements.
Bright yellow Yarrows, boasting beautiful heads of tiny, tightly-packed flowers and fern-like foliage, are so versatile and low maintenance. They may hold medicinal properties too, as Native Americans used yarrow plants to treat sunburn, and for stress and anxiety.
Plant Yarrows in rock gardens, borders, and any other dry, hot region of the garden – they will not tolerate wet soil.
Choose your plants carefully as some species (such as the Achillea millefolium) are invasive.
10. Evening Primrose
The yellow Evening Primrose is a fantastic addition to any garden, providing you with plenty of bang for your buck!
This adorable native wildflower helps attract more nightlife to your garden, and boasts a wide array of medicinal uses from balancing hormones to easing skin conditions.
All parts if the evening primrose plant can be eaten – from the leaves to the roots!
There are so many reasons to grow Thyme either indoors or out. This small, evergreen shrub with light purple flowers and a pleasant taste lends a fantastic flavor to all manner of dishes – from sauces and soups to desserts and drinks.
In the garden, thyme adds a wonderful aroma to your outdoor living space, while attracting pollinators and repelling garden pests!
Culinary Thyme is a hardy, drought tolerant perennial that is evergreen in most gardening zones.
12. Cardinal Climber
An annual vine with emerald green foliage and small crimson flowers that attract hummingbirds, the Cardinal Climber looks great on arbors, arches, and posts. Climbing to 15 feet tall, it has a very long bloom season and grows quickly.
This vine needs good drainage, and average soil. It can tolerate the drought of the summer months well, but it produces fuller blooms with regular watering.
A bold and beautiful flower, the Echinacea – also known as the purple coneflower – is a native plant which attracts goldfinches, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
A tonic made from the Echinacea plant has been used for centuries to boost immunity and ward off colds and flu. A healing tea can also be made with the leaves and flowers.
This hardy perennial thrives in poor soil and is drought resistant.
Also known as blanket flowers, Gaillardia are low maintenance perennials which flower in their first year and add color to the landscape for an exceptionally long season – from early summer into fall.
Gaillardia is a tough prairie plant with showy flowers in bright shades of red and yellow. It requires full sun and prefers loose, sandy soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Once established, this plant is quite drought tolerant.
The beautifully fragrant lavender plant is a must for any garden! Not only does it repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas and moths, but it attracts beneficial pollinators.
You can harvest your homegrown lavender plant to make all manner of medicinal and beauty products which relieve stress and anxiety, promote glowing skin, and improve sleep quality. The benefits of lavender don’t end there though – it can also be used in desserts and drinks, around the home and so much more.
Lavender is a hardy plant that doesn’t require a whole lot of watering or general care once established.
16. Butterfly Bush
The Butterfly Bush, or buddleia, is a fast-growing, deciduous shrub whose arching shoots can reach up to 12 feet tall. From summer to autumn, it produces fruit-smelling flowers which are extremely attractive to pollinators.
Native to China and Japan, the butterfly bush grows well in zones 5 through 10, depending on the variety chosen. (Note that several species are considered invasive, so choose your plant wisely).
Once established, the Butterfly Bush is drought tolerant, and enjoys a sunny position.
17. Globe Thistles
The Globe Thistle is a weird and wonderful plant that is sure to be a garden focal point.
These tall, purple-blue perennials have spherical flower heads and spiny, prickly leaves which attract butterflies and bees, while commanding the attention of anyone who passes them.
They grow well in hot, dry climates, full sunlight, and well-drained soil. Once established, they are drought tolerant and winter hardy to zone 3.
18. Oriental Poppies
With brightly colored, silky flowers that grow up to 6 inches wide, the Oriental Poppy stands atop a 4-foot tall stem.
Oriental Poppies prefer cool climates, and are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. They require a minimum of 8 hours of full sun each day in order to bloom. While they are drought tolerant, a weekly watering does enhance their flowering – but it’s not essential to their survival.
19. Firecracker Vine
The unusual annual Firecracker Vine produces vivid red blossoms which fade to orange and yellow.
A native of Mexico and Central and South America, the vines bloom from summer to fall, but can bloom year-round in warmer zones.
Firecracker vine plants require full or partial sun, and do well in almost any soil type. They are deer resistant and both heat and drought tolerant once established.
A colorful groundcover plant with a long flowering season, the deep purple blossoms of the Verbena are a beautiful low-maintenance planting option, especially for those who wish to attract butterflies to the garden.
Verbenas need full sun and good drainage, but will thrive in most types of soil. The plants are deer and rabbit resistant, and require very little water.
Note that the Verbena can be invasive if grown in good soil and watered regularly, which is why it’s best suited to rocky, hot, and dry locations.