Drought Tolerant Plants

This year’s dry weather and oppressive heatwave have had many of us scrambling to keep up with watering.  Moisture loving plants pout, crisp, and languish in the relentless dry heat. Luckily, there are many plants that can withstand dry periods after they’re established. Read on for our list of drought tolerant plants that ease the watering burden.

Drought Tolerant Shrubs

Barberry This shrub is tough. Hot, dry spells don’t phase barberry one bit. They are tolerant of some shade, but planting barberries in full, direct sun encourages more vibrant color. The barbs add deer and rabbit resistance, too!

Spirea There is a reason Spirea is planted in parking lots far and wide. It is tough and floriferous even in less than ideal conditions and has good drought tolerant once established. Varieties range from large and arching to more compact and colorful. 

Aronia An excellent shrub for problem sites and dry spells. Aronia features spring flowers, summer berries, and excellent fall color. Low growing varieties make great ground cover and taller types make a reliable hedge. Flexible sun requirements but better flowering, fruiting, and color in full sun.

Drought Tolerant Trees

Hackberry You saw this tree on our list of plants for wet soil, and here it is again. Hackberries are incredibly tough. This is a tree that will stand up to whatever nature throws its way, be it drought, heat, or storms. 

Honeylocust A beautiful and drought tolerant tree. Bright green spring growth puts on a spectacular show and thousands of airy leaflets create a marvelous dappled effect as the sun shines through them. Several thornless varieties are available.

Ginkgo These ancient trees have interesting leaves that command attention. Once established, they tolerate dry sites and their disease and pest resistance makes them even better. Plant male selections to avoid the stinky fruit that gives ginkgos a bad reputation. 

Drought Tolerant Perennials

Sedum This darling of xeriscaping is a perfect choice for dry areas and drought periods. Sedum’s fleshy leaves act as water storage units, making it one of the finest drought tolerant plants. Many upright and low-growing varieties are available, so finding a place for sedum is easy.

Russian Sage Russian sage’s preference for dry soil, benefit to pollinators, and minimal care needs make it a perfect choice. Silvery, deeply cut foliage is topped with spikes of lavender flowers throughout summer. 

Heliopsis This perennial prefers poor, dry soil. Tough sites keep Heliopsis standing tall and proud, while rich, moist soil can lead to flopping. Bright yellow or orange flowers stand atop handsome green or dark green to bronze leaves.