You Had Me at Gardening

9 Drought Tolerant Plants for Dry Climates and Low-Maintenance Landscapes

Here we have a fine selection of drought tolerant plants you can add to your landscape to minimize water consumption and boost the looks of your garden!

When you live in a dry climate, growing a lush garden and landscape might be close to impossible, especially if you need to conserve water and limit your irrigation practices. However, you have plenty of choices when it comes to drought tolerant plants. Many of them can turn your property into a colorful and serene patch of Paradise as long as you choose them wisely.

How to Choose and Care for Drought Tolerant Plants in Arid Climates

Before we begin this guide on drought tolerant plants, however, we need to emphasize a couple of things. If your plant choices include some that can forgive you for not watering them it does not mean you can neglect them altogether. Therefore, here are some tips on how to push xeriscaping at the next level!

  • Pick the best drought tolerant plants that thrive the best in your USDA Hardiness Zone.
  • Even if your plants resist drought and the scorching sun like Mad Max heroes, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take out your watering can or garden hose to give them a shower from time to time.
  • Add a generous layer of organic mulch to your plants, no matter if you picked the most drought resistant plants in existence. Mulch retains moisture, keep the plants’ roots cool, safeguard flowers, trees, and shrubs against weeds and even pests.

As a tip, you can also add some Mediterranean herbs and spices to your drought tolerant garden to add some flavor to your front lawn. Check out our guide on indoor herbs, as many of them can easily grow outside and withstand some sun and drought.

9 Best Drought Tolerant Plants to Grow This Year

For the purpose of this guide, we will split the drought resistant plants into a few categories. If you want us to update the guide with more plants in each section, let us know in the comment section!

Drought Tolerant Shade Plants

Here are some tough perennials that grow well in dry shade! If you have questions on how to grow them and keep them thriving, feel free to ask us.

1. Hostas

drought tolerant plants hostas

One of the most drought tolerant shade plants, Hostas features a very wide diversity of foliage sizes, colors, and shapes. In other words, you can mix and match plenty of Hostas in your garden to create a gorgeous outdoor garden. If you also grow some trees, smaller Hosta varieties can turn into attractive garden borders. Taller Hostas can grow up to 3 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

Light requirements

Light Requirements

Shade, partial sun, or full sun.
Water requirements

Water Requirements

Moist, well-drained soil
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

2. Native Ferns

ferns drought resistant plants

Find some hardy ferns in your USDA Hardiness Zone and enjoy some drought tolerant plants all year long. Native fern varieties put on a gorgeous show of green foliage or even golden in autumn. Well-drained soil and compost or organic mulch are pretty much all your outdoor ferns need to thrive. Depending on their variety, some ferns can reach up to 3 feet in height.

Light requirements

Light requirements

Partial sun, tolerates shade
Water requirements

Water requirements

Well-drained soil
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

3. Hellebore

drought tolerant plants hellebore

One of the toughest shade-loving plants out there, Hellebore – or Christmas rose – is an evergreen perennial that resists drought and plenty of pests/wildlife. It is rather poisonous, so for urban outdoor landscape design, keep your pets and children away from it. With its early bloom season, its thick, leathery green leaves, and growth potential of about 3 feet, this is an amazing drought tolerant shade plant to host in your garden.

Light requirements

Light requirements

Shade, partial sun, full sun
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist, nutrient-rich soil, dont' overwater
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

Drought Tolerant Flowering Plants

Next in line come a few drought tolerant flowering plants that will spruce up any front garden or back yard with vivid colors and tantalizing scents. As always, remember that you need to pick the right drought resistant flowering plants according to your hardiness zone. Now, let’s see some beauties that will forgive you if you forget to water them!

1. Bougainvillea

bougainvillea drought tolerant plants

Native to the tropics and so spectacular that some writers mentioned them in their bohemian descriptions of Los Angeles suburbs, these flowering hot pink climbing vines are the very definition of beauty and drought resistance. Native to the tropics, they thrive in full sun and low watering conditions.

Light requirements

Light requirements

Full sun
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist soil, do not overwater
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

2. Creeping Phlox

creeping phlox drought tolerant plants

When it comes to drought tolerant flowering plants, few things beat the Creeping Phlox when it comes to the low maintenance game. Besides its joyful hues, this plant sports the capability of thriving in rock gardens, the harshest soil conditions, arid climates, and even unkempt landscapes. Not that it would be your case. Just offer it the minimal living conditions and you will have intoxicating gorgeous colored flowers for the ages.

Light requirements

Light requirements

Bright, full or partial sun
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist soil
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

3. Geraniums

geranium plant care guide - featured image

These low-growing, mound-forming plants take the shape of colorful, attractive shrubs. With proper care, they can thrive for decades in your garden. Most species in the genus (Pelargonium) begin blooming in the late spring, but newer hybrids can bloom until the first autumnal frost. Geraniums are truly drought resistant plants that will fill your landscape and heart with joy.

⇒ Read our Guide on How to Grow & Care for Geraniums

Light requirements

Light requirements

Bright, full sun to partial shade
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist but well-drained soil
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

Drought Tolerant Succulents and Cacti

We have reached one of our favorite parts of growing flowers and plants indoors and outdoors: succulents and cacti! With so many succulent types out there, it may be hard to choose the best drought tolerant succulents for outdoor gardens, but we are here to help!

1. Aloe

Spiral Aloe drought tolerant

As you know by now, there are a handful of aloe varieties to choose from, not only the well-known aloe vera that you can grow both indoors and out. When it comes to drought tolerant succulents, aloe species are the easiest choice. In the lack of rainfall, you should water your aloe plants roughly on a weekly basis. Just make sure you do not overwater them, as aloe is susceptible to root rot.

⇒ Read our Easy Aloe Vera Plant Care Guide

Light requirements

Light requirements

Full bright sun
Water requirements

Water requirements

Well-drained soil
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

2. The Jade Plant

jade tree

Next on our list of drought tolerant plants and succulents, in particular, is the Jade Plant. Also known as the “Money Plant,” this gorgeous tree resists the harshest climates like no other. It thrives best in average summer temperatures. It will be there by your side for up to 100 years, making it one of the most enduring succulents and drought resistant plants on this list.

⇒ Read our Jade Plant Care Guide

Light requirements

Light requirements

Full sun to bright, indirect light
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist soil, allow it to dry in between watering sessions
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

3. Blue Flame Cactus

blue flame cactus drought tolerant plants

Image courtesy of Succulent City

You can choose from literally hundreds of cacti varieties that will turn your rocky, dry garden into an exotic slice of Paradise. However, the Blue Flame Cactus is a statement piece in any landscape that focuses on drought tolerant plants. You might also know it as the bilberry cactus. With its green-blue shade and small white flowers, this cactus will add the necessary oomph to any front or back landscape design!

⇒ Read our Guide on How to Grow Succulents and Cacti

Light requirements

Light requirements

Full sun to bright, indirect light
Water requirements

Water requirements

Moist soil, allow it to dry in between watering sessions
Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

Drought Tolerant Plants: Bottom Line

This was our selection of drought tolerant plants and flowers. Of course, we can update this list if you want with other drought resistant shrubs, herbs, and flowering plants or trees. If you live in a dry climate, let us know what plants you have in your garden and how you care for them! Also, in case you want us to discuss some particular plants that withstand the lack of rain and harsh conditions, let us know in the comment section below! Until next time, happy gardening and let’s keep the conversation going!

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