Low Water Perennials: Choosing Perennials For Hot, Dry Climates

By: , Credentialed Garden Writer
Purple Perennials
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Drought-tolerant perennials are plants that can get by with little water other than what Mother Nature provides. Many are native plants that have evolved to thrive in dry conditions. Let’s learn more about perennials for drought-prone areas.

About Low Water Perennials

Most perennials suitable for hot, dry climates require loose, well-draining soil and are likely to rot in compacted or soggy soil. Drought-tolerant perennials tend to be low maintenance and most require little, if any, fertilizer.

Keep in mind that all plants need at least a little water, particularly new plants that are just getting started, as moisture helps develop long roots that can tap deep into the soil. Most low water perennials benefit from occasional irrigation during hot, dry weather.

Perennials for Drought

Below are a few examples of perennials that don’t need much water and their USDA growing zones:

  • Agastache (Anise hyssop): Native to North America, Agastache is deer-resistant, but very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Flower colors include purple, red, violet, pink, yellow, orange, and white. Zones 4-10
  • Yarrow: Yarrow thrives in full sunlight and poor soil, becoming floppy and weak in rich soils. This tough, heat-tolerant perennial is available in a variety of colors including yellow, red, orange, pink, and white. Zones 3-8
  • Allium: Allium is an eye-catching plant with big showy globes of tiny, purple florets. This member of the onion family attracts bees and butterflies but isn’t bothered by hungry deer. Zones 4-8
  • Coreopsis: A rugged, North American native, coreopsis (aka tickseed) produces bright blooms of orange, yellow, and red. Zones 5-9
  • Gaillardia: Blanket flower is a heat-tolerant prairie native that produces bright red, yellow, or orange, daisy-like flowers all summer long. Zones 3-10
  • Russian sage: One of the best perennials for hot, dry climates, this hardy perennial is favored for the masses of lavender blooms that rise above silvery green foliage. Deer and rabbits tend to steer clear of Russian sage. Zones 4-9
  • Perennial sunflowers: Perennial sunflowers are tough, long blooming perennials that don’t need much water. The cheery plants boast bright yellow blooms that attract a variety of pollinators. Zones 3-8
  • Globe thistle: Globe thistle, a native to the Mediterranean, is a striking plant with silvery foliage and globes of steely blue flowers. This sturdy plant will continue to bloom throughout the summer. Zones 3-8
  • Salvia: Salvia thrives in a variety of difficult conditions. Hummingbirds are drawn to this super tough plant that blooms from late spring until fall. Growing zones depend on the variety. Some aren’t cold-tolerant.
  • Vernonia: Vernonia provides bright color throughout the summer. Some varieties are known as ironweed, thanks to the intense, purple flowers. This plant, while tough and beautiful, can be aggressive, so plant accordingly. Zones 4-9.
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