Drought-Tolerant Perennials for Low-Maintenance Landscapes

by Suzanne DeJohn

Is it my imagination or is the weather making headline news more often than it used to? It seems like the last few years have seen more than the usual share of record snowfalls, extreme temperatures, floods and droughts. We gardeners tend to be particularly tuned into the weather, and although we can't control how much it rains or how cold it gets, we can choose plants that tolerate challenging conditions. And one of the biggest weather challenges is drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, right now much of the southern half of the country is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, and in many areas these conditions are expected to persist for at least the next few months. Whether or not your region is currently experiencing drought, chances are good that it will at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Even in "normal" years, most regions receive at least a few prolonged periods of scant rainfall each year, during which we drag out the hoses and water our gardens. In drought years, this task becomes a weekly chore. Vegetable gardens, container plantings, and newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials will always need regular watering. But by choosing drought-tolerant species whenever possible, you can create a landscape that requires less water to maintain.

Xeriscaping (pronounce the X like a Z) describes a landscaping strategy that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental watering. For example, techniques like mulching strive to minimize water evaporation and runoff. However, the task of creating a water-thrifty landscape starts with plant selection. Species adapted to a climate that experiences regular droughts should need no supplemental water once they're established, unless conditions are extreme.

Following are some easy-to-grow plants that are relatively drought-tolerant. (They'll need water during their first growing season, and may need water during periods of extreme heat and/or drought.)

Black Eyed Susan
Catmint
Coreopsis
Daylilies
Echinacea
Gaillardia
Lavender
Liatris
Penstemon
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Yarrow

To browse through all our drought-tolerant selections, go to our Perennials page and on the "Narrow Your Results" area of the left sidebar choose "Will Tolerate: Drought/Dry Soil."

For more information on climate and drought, visit the Climate Prediction Center and Drought Monitor.

coreopsis cosmic eyecoreopsis cosmic eye
<a href="/perennials/coreopsis/coreopsis-cosmic-eye">Cosmic Eye Coreopsis</a>
echinacea hot papayaechinacea hot papaya
<a href="/perennials/echinacea/echinacea-hot-papaya-coneflower">Echinacea Hot Papaya</a>
salvia sage blue hillsalvia sage blue hill
<a href="/perennials/sage-blue-hill">Sage Blue Hill</a>
  1. Phenomenal Lavender, Lavandula x intermedia

    Phenomenal Lavender has it all: exceptionally tolerant of both high heat and harsh winter, this easy-to-grow lavender even shows resistance to the effects of humidity. Highly fragran...

    Learn More
    Phenomenal® Lavender Lavender Phenomenal® PP#24193 Lavandula x intermedia Phenomenal PP#24193
    As low as $13.98 Sale $9.09
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Phenomenal Lavender has it all: exceptionally tolerant of both high heat and harsh winter, this easy-to-grow lavender even shows resistance to the effects of humidity. Highly fragrant with concentrated essential oils, Phenomenal's spikes of purple-blue flowers attract butterflies and bees to the garden. Edible, deer-resistant and fast-growing, this silver-leafed lavender has left all other new introductions in the dust! (Lavandula x intermedia) PP#24193
    Learn More
  2. Pink Echinacea Magnus, Echinacea purpurea, Coneflower

    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent...

    Learn More
    Magnus Echinacea Purple Coneflower Magnus Echinacea purpurea Magnus
    As low as $8.98 Sale $5.84
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent stems and flowerheads in place to overwinter will also attract birds. Coneflowers are notably tough native plants and 'Magnus' is no exception, withstanding drought, clay, humidity and harsh winter conditions without complaint. Easy to grow, this plant is a great choice for beginner and experienced gardeners alike. (Echinacea purpurea)
    Learn More
  3. Drought Tolerant Garden Hero Illustration

    Plant a Drought Tolerant Garden and stop worrying about your watering schedule (and bills!) These tough and colorful plants naturally require less water and have evolved to perform b...

    Learn More
    Drought Tolerant Pre-Planned Garden
    $244.98 Sale $159.24
    Per Garden of 25 Plants
    Plant a Drought Tolerant Garden and stop worrying about your watering schedule (and bills!) These tough and colorful plants naturally require less water and have evolved to perform beautifully in hot, dry conditions. Arranged according to our planting map, they present a picture of true garden harmony, even with little rainfall.
    Learn More
  4. Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm, Rudbeckia in bloom in perennial garden

    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green f...

    Learn More
    Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
    As low as $9.98 Sale $6.49
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green foliage. Unbothered by most pests, poor soils, drought and humidity, 'Goldsturm' is easygoing and the perfect addition to flower arrangements and pollinator gardens. Deer resistant and long-lasting. (Rudbeckia fulgida)
    Learn More
© 2019 AmericanMeadows.com All rights reserved