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What are Some Drought Resistant Plants?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

In many parts of the world, gardeners seek out drought resistant plants as an attractive and less resource-heavy way to decorate a garden. Although these plants have a reputation of being dull and not very showy, the truth is that there are some beautiful ones that can enhance any garden, not just one with a drought friendly or Mediterranean theme. In addition to using less water, they tend to be hardier and better able to stand up to weather extremes, pests, and other abuses. It should be noted that these plants are drought resistant, not drought proof, and they do require water and care.

Drought resistant plants fall into a number of categories, including ground covers, flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses, and everything in between. It is possible to fill a garden entirely with a profusion of colorful plants that will liven it up while not requiring too much water, making them better for the environment.

Lavender is a drought resistant flower.
Lavender is a drought resistant flower.

As a general rule of thumb, these plants should be heavily mulched to help them retain water. They should also be watered in the morning, rather than the evening, as the cooler night weather combined with the water may cause them to rot. Mulch doesn't have to be expensive — many gardeners use newspaper, though not glossy print. In addition to keeping the plant moist, it keeps down weeds and pests.

Shrubs and bushes such as witch hazel are drought resistant.
Shrubs and bushes such as witch hazel are drought resistant.

Some drought resistant flowers include the Dahlberg daisy, a bright yellow flower that grows about 1 foot (30.48 cm) tall, and members of the Salvia genus, which come in a dazzling array of colors and sizes. Four o'clocks, flowering tobacco, baby's breath, poppies, geraniums, lavender, sunflowers, periwinkle, alyssum, and verbena are other examples of drought resistant flowers. There are many others with a nice range of colors and sizes to enhance the garden.

Poppies are drought resistant flowers.
Poppies are drought resistant flowers.

Most grasses and vines are drought resistant, although the following species are particularly so: mallow, heather, sedge, blue fescue, switchgrass, sage, hens and chicks, honeysuckle, and periwinkle. In addition, many herbs, such as thyme, oregano, sage, and members of the mint family, do well in low-water conditions and can be used to create fragrant borders in the garden.

Drought resistant plants may include members of the Salvia genus.
Drought resistant plants may include members of the Salvia genus.

Shrubs and bushes include butterfly bush, clematis, witch hazel, juniper, arrowwood, roses, and cinquefoil. Shrubs can be used to establish low borders, to differentiate various parts of the garden, and to add dimension to planting. Some shrubs may require more pruning than others to maintain their shape and prevent them from taking over the garden. Luckily, like most drought resistant plants, shrubs are able to handle radical cutbacks, and in some cases, they like being clipped right to the roots and allowed to grow back in the next year.

Sunflowers are drought resistant.
Sunflowers are drought resistant.

There are also a number of drought resistant trees, such as oaks, cedars, fir, sumac, elders, and birch trees. Gardeners should be careful not to plant trees too close to the house or to each other. They should try to maintain open sunny areas and not block off all the available sun with a line of trees at the southern boundary of a garden. People who want more privacy can continue a hedge of some sort, which can be kept low and controlled.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

LisaLou

There are many different kinds of salvia, and every kind I have planted have been drought tolerant. We have periods when we don't get much rain, and my perennial salvia always do the best.

I like to use these, easy to grow plants for borders. They have spiky blooms in different shades of purple and pink. You can buy annual and perennial salvia, and most of my are perennials because they come back every year.

After they have bloomed the first time, I will cut them back and continue to get a few blooms for the rest of the season. They are part of the mint family, and will attract bees and butterflies too.

momothree

@boathugger:

Another one is called the Astible Rise and Shine. It is a perennial with beautiful pink flowers on plumes. It is a more modern plant. It gets its drought resistance from its relative, the Astilbe Chinesis.

The Astilbe Rise and Shine does great in full shade. However, for more blooms, it is best in a partly shaded area. The old foliage should be left on the plant until springtime. That helps prevent damage to the plant during the winter months.

It is also deer and rabbit resistant. It grows to be about 18 inches tall and over two feet wide.

SnowyWinter

@boathugger: There is a plant called Geranium Rozanne that produces large blue flowers with white centers. They bloom from June through August. They are very striking. If you trim it after its first bloom in the summer, it will bloom again in the fall.

Butterflies and bees seem to really love the Geranium Rozanne. It is drought resistant and deer resistant. It does well in partial shade. They grow to be approximately a foot and a half tall and about two feet wide.

BoatHugger

Are there any drought resistant shade plants?

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    • Lavender is a drought resistant flower.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Lavender is a drought resistant flower.
    • Shrubs and bushes such as witch hazel are drought resistant.
      By: dianamower
      Shrubs and bushes such as witch hazel are drought resistant.
    • Poppies are drought resistant flowers.
      By: Venelin Petkov
      Poppies are drought resistant flowers.
    • Drought resistant plants may include members of the Salvia genus.
      By: sbgoodwin
      Drought resistant plants may include members of the Salvia genus.
    • Sunflowers are drought resistant.
      By: Smileus
      Sunflowers are drought resistant.
    • The verbena is an annual flowering plant that can do well with little water.
      By: JulietPhotography
      The verbena is an annual flowering plant that can do well with little water.
    • Many herbs, like oregano, do well in low-water situations.
      By: Taiga
      Many herbs, like oregano, do well in low-water situations.
    • Some membars of the mint family are drought resistant.
      By: margo555
      Some membars of the mint family are drought resistant.