The Best Drought Tolerant Perennials

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Just because you live in a drought-prone area doesn’t mean your landscape has to lack color and vibrancy. Gardening during a stretch of dry weather is understandably challenging but not impossible.

With the right plants (in this case, drought-tolerant perennials) and practices, you can cultivate a resilient, beautiful garden or yard. Drought-tolerant perennials can withstand dry conditions while delivering stunning blooms and foliage year after year.

This post covers 20 of the best drought-tolerant perennials. So, we’ve got you covered whether you are looking for striking focal point plants, groundcovers, or stunning flowers for your garden.

The Best Drought Tolerant Perennials

The Best Drought Tolerant Perennials

1. Russian Sage

 Drought tolerant Perennials

This hardy, stunning blue plant makes a great backbone for drought-tolerant landscaping. Native to central Asia’s dry climates, this flowering shrub can withstand periods of drought without requiring frequent watering once the root system is established.

Besides its beautiful flowers, Russian sage emits a pleasant, aromatic scent. The fact that it’s among the easiest plants to grow is also a plus.

Hardiness zones: 5-9

2. Coreopsis

low-maintenance drought tolerant plants

This plant’s sunny, happy, daisy-like flowers, which often last from late spring well into the fall, brighten even the dullest areas. Coreopsis develops a deep root system.

This perennial flower comes in various heights and forms, from compact varieties suitable for borders and containers to taller species ideal for your cottage garden.

Hardiness zones: 3-9

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3. Yarrow

full sun drought tolerant plants

There’s plenty to love about the yarrow. From its extended bloom time, mild, herbal fragrance, finely divided, fern-like foliage, and small, tightly-packed beautiful flowers to its architectural feel. The divided leaves help minimize water loss through transpiration.

Moreover, yarrow doesn’t require much watering and is low maintenance once established. In addition, foraging animals like deer and rabbits won’t touch it.

Hardiness zones: 3-8

4. Blanket Flower

Drought tolerant Perennials

Blanket Flower is a  heat-loving flowering shrub is native to South and North America’s dry climates and, hence, well-suited to withstand periods of drought. Besides developing deep roots, the fine hairs covering the leaves and the leathery texture reduce transpiration rates and protect the leaves from intense sunlight.

You can grow blanket flowers in the shade, but they typically thrive in full sun. Also, protect them from high humidity and excess moisture.

Hardiness zones: 3-10

5. Rose Campion

Drought Tolerant Plants

Rose campion is a resilient perennial known for its vibrant pink or white flowers and green foliage. It thrives in sunny locations with dry soil, making it an excellent choice for drought-tolerant gardens . This hardy plant’s ability to flourish in dry, sunny areas highlights its suitability for regions prone to drought, offering both beauty and durability to garden landscapes.

Hardiness zones: 4-6

6. Beardtongue

Best drought tolerant perennials for full sun

Consider beardtongue  for your water-wise garden and xeriscaping because it is highly tolerant to drought. It also thrives in poor soils where other plants might struggle. Once established, it can survive on rainfall in many regions.

It produces colorful tubular flowers that pollinators cannot resist. Use it to add height and visual appeal to your landscape. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage further blooming.

Hardiness zones: 3-8

Drought Tolerant Perennial Succulents

7. Agave

Best drought tolerant perennials for pots

The architectural beauty of agave features rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves that make this succulent plant an impressive focal plant and a valuable addition to landscapes in general.

Agaves thrive in hot, arid climates, require full sun, and do best in well-draining soil, preferably sandy and gravelly soils. If you grow agave varieties that grow quite large, such as Agave americana, make sure there’s ample space.

Hardiness zones: 5-11

8. Echeveria

drought-tolerant container plants for full sun and heat

Echeverias thrive in warm places with lots of sunlight. They require little water, so water them sparingly and avoid overwatering. However, consistent moisture is essential during the initial establishment stage.

In addition to its adaptation to dry conditions, echeveria is stunning with fleshy leaves that form tight, symmetrical rosettes. It also produces tall stalks that bear small, bell-shaped flowers.

Hardiness zones: 3-9

9. Sedum

low-maintenance outdoor potted plants full sun

Also called stonecrop, this low-growing succulent perennial thrives in rocky, sandy soils and naturally tolerates prolonged drought spells. Sedums work well in borders, containers, mass plantings, and as a groundcover. It is self-reliant, provided you pick a well-draining spot with full sun to grow it.

Moreover, you don’t have to deadhead its spent flowers, but you can cut back any dead or leggy stems in late winter or early spring to promote new growth.

Hardiness zones: 3-11

10. Aloe Vera

Small container plants for full sun and heat

Aloe Vera is among the most popular drought-tolerant plants. This tropical perennial is renowned for its medicinal properties. It is a vital ingredient in cosmetics, sunburn remedies, and other products.

Aloe vera’s tolerance to drought is primarily due to its succulent nature- its thick, fleshy leaves store water, allowing the plant to continue thriving even in drought. There are over 500 species to choose from, ranging from small ones to large, tree-like varieties.

Hardiness zones: 10-12

11. Yucca

plants that like full sun and heat in pots

This perennial plant is typically found in rocky deserts, grasslands, and coastal areas, and it grows best in sandy, well-draining soils. Although yuccas can tolerate different temperatures, they prefer regions where the temperature does not frequently drop below 30°F.

Yuccas produce large, dramatic clusters of bell-shaped flowers that can grow quite tall, rising above the foliage. Its long, pointed, narrow leaves form a rosette formation.

Hardiness zones: 4-11

Drought Tolerant Perennial Grasses

12. Fountain Grass

low-maintenance drought tolerant plants

This popular ornamental grass forms neat clumps of arching, narrow leaves that create a fountain-like effect. The foliage is typically green during the growing season and may turn golden or reddish-brown in the fall. It also produces bottlebrush-like colorful plumes in summer.

Fountain grass is valued for its visual effect. It does exceptionally with little maintenance and water.

Hardiness zones: 5-10

13. Feather Grass

low-maintenance drought tolerant plants

This graceful ornamental grass flourishes in challenging conditions, including dry, sunny climates, with minimal care. Its prized, fine, thread-like leaves that form a dense, fountain-like clump give the garden a soft texture. The typically bright green foliage turns golden in fall and winter.

Note that it’s regarded as invasive in some locations, especially in parts of California and the southwestern United States.

Hardiness zones: 6-10

14. Blue Oat Grass

outdoor plants that don't need water

Blue oat grass is clump-forming grass with blue-gray foliage and tall, arching flower spikes. The foliage is evergreen in moderate climates.

For this drought-tolerant perennial grass to keep its vibrant blue color and compact growth habit, ensure it gets 6 hours of direct sunlight or more every day. Plant blue oat grass in the spring or fall when temperatures are moderate.

Hardiness zones: 4-9

15. Switchgrass

Best Drought tolerant Perennials

This perennial warm-season grass is characterized by its tall, robust stature and is well-regarded for its drought tolerance and resilience. It can live several decades, regrowing every year from its deep root system.

Note that this grass is slow to establish in the first couple of years. However, once it does, you won’t need to water it frequently or spray it with a lot of fertilizers and pesticides.

Hardiness zones: 3-9

16. Blue Grama Grass

Best drought tolerant perennials for full sun

This warm season grass boasts a remarkable tolerance to drought and thrives in different climates, from hot and dry to cold and arid regions. Blue grama grass forms dense, low-growing tufts with fine-textured foliage, and its blue-green leaves curl gracefully as they dry, giving the grass a unique appearance.

Blue grama grass helps control erosion because of dense growth and deep roots.

Hardiness zones: 3-10

Drought Tolerant Perennial Herbs

17. Lavender

full sun drought-tolerant flowers

This herb suits gardens in dry, hot climates. Its native home- the Mediterranean region, contributes to its tolerance to drought. Lavender is admired for its pretty purple flowers and soothing fragrance.

Lavender can withstand poor soil, provided it has adequate drainage. However, it thrives in sandy or rocky soils. It can also tolerate humidity, but excessively humid conditions can make it susceptible to fungal diseases

Hardiness zones: 5-9

18. Rosemary

drought tolerant herbs

You can grow rosemary in dry conditions, and it will flourish since it has adapted to grow in hot, dry conditions with well-drained soil. This herb does well in warm temperatures and low humidity. High humidity and poor air circulation make it vulnerable to fungal diseases.

Rosemary adds depth and complexity to various dishes, from savory roasts to sweet desserts.

Hardiness zones: 8-10

19. Mojave Sage

Fast-growing drought tolerant plants

This desert native perennial stands out for its unique silver-gray foliage and vibrant lavender-purple flowers. It also has deeply lobed leaves with fine hairs, giving it a velvety texture and helping it conserve moisture.

Mojave sage grows up to 3 feet and pairs greatly with many drought-tolerant perennials like penstemon and lavender.

Hardiness zones: 5-9

20. Oregano

Best Drought tolerant Perennials

Low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, oregano is another herb you can add to your low-water garden. Grow oregano in well-drained, sunny locations, perhaps in containers or raised beds. This herb is a staple in Mexican, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisines.

However, beyond its culinary uses, it alleviates respiratory conditions, digestive issues, and inflammation symptoms. Oregano also offers ornamental value to gardens

Hardiness zones: 4-10

21. Thyme

Best Drought tolerant Perennials

This perennial herb native to the Mediterranean typically grows in small shrubs that feature tiny leaves and small pink or purple summer blooms. It grows low and spreads out, producing stems that trail or creep along the ground.

You can incorporate this versatile herb into your landscape in different settings, including using it as a ground cover in sunny areas.

Hardiness zones: 5-9


The plants above not only thrive in dry, hot conditions but also thrive in them. When choosing drought-tolerant perennials for your garden, choose those suited for your area. A garden with plants that thrive in dry conditions helps conserve water, lowers maintenance costs, and allows you to enjoy a vibrant garden even in the driest conditions.

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