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10 Drought-Tolerant Plants to Beautify Your Garden
Beat heat and drought with plants that can thrive in dry conditions.
Updated By: Catie Kovelman, 03/07/2022
No matter where you live in the country, you’ve likely heard that states on the West Coast like Southern California are in extreme drought conditions. During severe droughts, saving as much water as possible is of the utmost importance. All over the state, Californians are trying to get more water-wise by planting gardens with native plants that don’t need a lot of water to thrive. People with green thumbs who have reached master gardener level are also taking the initiative to look for other types of more efficient ground cover, such as artificial turf that always looks perfectly green but doesn’t need to be watered to survive.
Even if you reside on the other side of the country, taking steps to limit water use in your garden is still a smart idea. Not only do you help the environment, but you’ll likely notice savings in your monthly water bill! Your investment in drought tolerant landscaping could end up paying for itself several times over! Another reason to do so? If you’re a haphazard gardener, sometimes forgetting to water your plants for a week (or two), these can make your life easier! And maybe you just have other things you'd rather be doing with your time than watering your plants! With some of these plants, less is certainly more. Be sure to take advantage of the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to help determine if a particular plant will thrive in your location.
This drought resistant plant is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The bright purple flowers are striking in any garden or front entryway. They provide that clean and fragrant smell which has made its way into many of our bath and beauty products at home! This plant is found in the southwestern United States of Arizona, California, and Nevada, as well as Northern Mexico. It can be planted in full sun or partial shade.
Desert Globemallow or Apricot Mallow
These beautiful plants have globe-shaped flowers that vary in coloring from an apricot orange to a bright fire engine red. It is a perennial shrub native to California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona as well as Northern Mexico. Requiring little water, the plant thrives in dry, rocky or sandy soils. Besides for its beauty, this plant is a favorite of honeybees and insects for its abundance of pollen and nectar.
Not just a rival of Betty, Veronica is a gorgeous flower that is also relatively easy to grow. You can get quite a variety of colors: white flowers, purple flowers, pink flowers, or blue spikes. It has a leafy stem with flowers that have a long bloom time. It thrives in well-drained soil and sun. FYI: it’s also known as American Brookline or American speedwell. It is native to temperate and arctic Asia and North America.
Blue Fescue is one of the most beautiful types of ornamental grasses! It is perfectly sized for edging borders to your outdoor space or mass planting. Its unique texture and icy blue coloration make it a natural choice for homeowners in dry climates. Once it's established (some of these plants require more water for their first few seasons), it becomes extremely drought tolerant.
This drought tolerant perennial with purple and blue flowers works well in both gardens and planters. Its aromatic smell attracts wildlife like butterflies and bees and, as the name suggests, cats. Once the stems are broken, they release a cat-appealing aroma into the air. It is native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of China.
Red Creeping Thyme
This plant has gotten a lot of buzz lately for its use as an environmentally friendly alternative to grass. Not only that, but it also requires no mowing, grows no more than 3 inches max, and is better for local biodiversity. Red creeping thyme quickly spreads to form a lush carpet of small leaves and vibrant red and pink flowers, and it tends to bloom in early summer. It is native to hot, dry Mediterranean regions, and does well in similar dry conditions where it can be in full sun and dry to medium soil.
The purple coneflower is a popular drought tolerant perennial with smooth stems and long-lasting, lavender flowers. It’s characterized by domed, purplish-brown, spiny centers. In addition to requiring minimal water use, the purple coneflower is extremely attractive to pollinators like butterflies and long-tongued bees. These flowers thrive in partial shade and sandy soil or any soil with decent drainage.
Western White Fir
The white fir is a coniferous tree that is native to the mountains of western North America. You may recognize white fir trees as Christmas trees you see each December! Commonly associated with the Winter holidays, the white fir is both cold and drought tolerant and is extremely easy to transplant. If you live somewhere with cold winters and hot summers, this tree could be perfect for your yard!
Globe thistle is a fast-growing, contemporary-looking flower that comes from the same family as daisies! Globe thistle is native to Europe, east to central Asia, and south to the mountains of tropical Africa and is recognized by spiny foliage and blue or white spherical flower heads. While Globe thistle does require consistent access to water during its growing season, this plant is incredibly drought tolerant and can thrive in a wide range of soil types once established. And if you have problems with the local wildlife eating your garden for dinner, you’ll be glad to know that globe thistle is deer resistant, too!
If you are looking for a drought-friendly way to fill in spaces in your garden or provide ground cover, consider adding a rock garden to your property! A rock garden is a great choice because it’s low maintenance, diversifies your garden, and looks great year-round! Depending on where you place your rock garden, it might even make your yard seem larger!