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Top 15 Drought Tolerant Flowers for your back yard

A guide to planting your dream low-maintenance flower garden

When your goal is to create a drought-tolerant, water-wise garden, there’s no reason for you to miss out on enjoying a full range of beautiful blooms. From stunning purples and iridescent oranges to flaming reds, and bright yellows, here are fifteen drought tolerant flowers you can consider for a vibrant xeriscape garden (gardens requiring no or very little water). 

Drought Tolerant Flower #1: Lanceleaf Coreopsis

The Lanceleaf Coreopsis is native to central areas of the United States. The plant produces a prolific display of yellow flower heads during summer on plant stems around 2 feet high.

Plant in sandy well-drained soil in full sun for best results. Do not overwater, as this will cause the plant to droop. When in bloom, these drought tolerant flowers will attract bees and butterflies to your garden. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #2: Purple Coneflower

The coneflower is a prairie plant and native to North America. They are tough, drought tolerant flowers, and are available in an ever-widening range of colors. 

Plant them in early spring, but don’t expect your first blooms for at least a couple of years. Bloom time is in the summer, and blooms are long-lasting.

The petals on the daisy-like blooms are a ruse to lure pollinating insects toward the large central cone, which is actually a collection of many smaller flowers. 

The long-lasting blooms will keep your garden populated with hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies taking advantage of the rich nectar. The seeds are also popular with finches and other small birds. 

Plant in well-drained, acid to neutral soil in full sun or part shade. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #3: Russian Sage

Russian sage is a tough little shrub that will treat you to long panicles of tiny blue to purple flowers all summer long. Even when there are no flowers, the long silver stems and light, feathery leaves make it an attractive plant at any time of year. 

These drought tolerant flowers are fast growers and prefer being planted in spring. Russian sage grows to around 4 feet, with a spread of 3 feet. 

The plant is a prolific spreader, so you may need to take steps to contain it in only the areas you want it to grow. 

Plant in full sun in well-drained earth (clay soil is okay). They will tolerate a wide range of pH levels but prefer it around 7. 

New plants will need regular watering but are very drought-tolerant when established. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #4: Wax Begonia

Typically a tropical plant the wax begonia is the most drought-tolerant variety of begonia for a water-wise garden. The bronze, waxy leaves and fleshy stems of the wax begonia support random clusters of white, pink, or red flowers that will bloom all summer long and well into fall. 

Waxy begonias prefer well-drained soil in partial sun. The plants produce a compact bushy growth reaching 6 to 12 inches high. The waxy coating of the leaves gives this species a modicum of drought tolerance. Water when the soil dries out.

Drought Tolerant Flower #5: Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan varieties are short-lived perennials that are prolific seeders. Golden yellow petals surround a large, sometimes bulbous dark center to create a striking display in your garden. Popular varieties have yellow petals, but they also bloom in oranges, browns, bronzes, and rusty and deep reds. 

These are very drought tolerant flowers, so only water when the soil is dry -about once or twice a week in the warm seasons, and less in cooler weather. Try to do surface watering only as damp foliage is susceptible to mildew. 

Plant in full sun, or partial sun if you live in the south. Use a crumbly (friable soil) of moderate fertility.

Drought Tolerant Flower #6: Lavender

Lavender is a fragrant compact shrub producing upright spikes of purple drought tolerant flowers on grey green foliage. It’s a moderate grower that prefers to be planted after the last of the frost. 

If deer are a problem in your garden, lavender makes an excellent companion plant to deter the hungry animals away from your prized flowers. 

You can eat lavender flowers in salads, soups, and stews, and they also keep their fragrance after drying. Hang bunches of dried lavender by an open, airy window. 

Plant lavender in full sun in well-draining soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH level. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #7: Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)

Flame orange, yellow-tipped petals surround a dark burgundy center on this prolific, self-seeding spreader. Due to its ability to spread across your garden like an unfolding blanket if left to its own devices, the Gaillardia is often referred to as the blanket flower.
The plants grow easily from seeds but are most commonly planted as nursery starts. Individual plants grow to around 24 inches with a spread of about 20 inches.
Expect large, showy blooms through summer and overwinter with a thick layer of mulch in cooler climates.
Gaillardia loves full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Water every other day after planting until you see flowers. Once the plant is established, it can go through relatively long spells in mild climates without watering.

Drought Tolerant Flower #8: Candytuft

Enjoy fragrant umbels of bright white blossoms covering the candytuft perennial in a compact floral mass from late spring to early summer. The stems can get so woody that the short, low-growing plant is often referred to as a sub-shrub.


A high level of drought tolerance and thick emerald foliage makes these drought tolerant flowers a favorite for rock gardens or dry areas. 

Plant in well-drained soil. The plant is susceptible to crown rot if the soil is too moist. It’s for this reason they won’t do well in clay, especially during the cooler months. 

Prune the plant back heavily after blooming to stimulate new growth and protect the plant with a heavy layer of mulch during winter.

Drought Tolerant Flower #9: Gaura (Wandflower)

Long wandlike stems produce a prolific display of pinkish drought tolerant flowers that will continue to bloom when the weather is in the triple digits or when the ground turns dry. 

Gardeners love to plant gaura en-masse because of how the flower stems dance in the breeze (it’s also known as whirling butterflies).

The long stems tend to flop, so use companion plants as support or stake them if that is your only option.

Gaura thrives in full sun but will do fine with a little afternoon shade. Use extremely well drained soils. Be mindful that wet winter soils will kill this plant. 

Water sparingly but deeply to encourage deep root growth. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #10: Lamb’s Ears

Lamb’s ears are one of the hardiest, easy-care, low maintenance plants you can have in your garden. Tightly woven silver, fuzzy foliage forms a thick mat over the ground, making them a popular choice for a garden or driveway border. 

While it’s the texture and color of the foliage that makes lamb’s ears a garden favorite, they do form tall spiked purple flowers in summer, which can grow up to 18 inches above the low-lying plant. 

Use well-draining, evenly dry to moist soil with a pH range between 6 to 6.5. Grow in full sun to part shade. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #11: Purpletop Verbena

Purpletop Verbena

The purpletop verbena is tall and spindly, and the sparse foliage gives it a somewhat bony appearance. However, the upright, freely branching stems support a dense cluster of purple flowers. 

The individual florets are barely pea-sized, but each cluster can contain up to 50 flowers. The blooms will start appearing around late spring and will continue until the first frost. 

Plant purpletops in full to partial sun. The plant prefers medium-dry to moist soil but is reasonably drought tolerant and will grow in most soil types. It’s also deer and rabbit resistant. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #12: Red-Hot Poker Plant

Also known as the poker plant and torch lily, the red hot poker’s blooms resemble the hot end of a fire poker or a hot flame. They can grow up to 5 feet tall and the bright, upright flowers are a beacon for birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Even without blooms, the green, sword-shaped leaves create an attractive display in the garden.

Plant red-hot pokers in full sun. they do prefer space so ensure there is adequate room between mature plants. 

The plant isn’t terribly fussy about soil but for best results, use well-drained soil. It’s reasonably drought resistant, but they do perform better with consistent watering, especially in hot, dry weather. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #13: Rock Rose

Magenta Rock Rose

The rock rose is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that shrugs off heat, stands up to strong winds, salt spray, and drought without issue. This tough little plant is as close to ‘set it and forget it‘ in the gardening world as you can get. 

Soft green foliage produces large purple flowers that are as fragrant as they are pretty. It will bloom between late spring and early summer, with the pink, rose, white, or yellow flowers lasting all but a day. 

The rock rose will do well in sandy soil in coastal areas. Otherwise, it will do just fine in most other well-draining soil types. Plant in full sun in deep soil so they can spread their roots out. Once a rock rose is established, it will never need watering. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #14: Sedum

Thick fleshy stems and leaves to match create a mass of succulent-like green foliage in your garden. 

Choose low-growing sedum for an attractive ground cover and pretty yellow flowers like Sedum humifusum or an upright variety like Sedum spectabile for thick, upright, green foliage and masses of tightly clustered magenta or bright pink blooms. 

If you are growing sedum in a zone 5 or colder area, plant it in a location that receives full sun. Otherwise, the plant will do just fine in partial shade. Sedum prefers well-draining soil, and it is susceptible to root rot in too-moist soil. 

Drought Tolerant Flower #15: Beardtongue

The beardtongue genus comprises some 250 different varieties of flowering plants common around North America. It thrives in a range of climates, including plains, mountains, and deserts. 

The tube-shaped flowers growing around an upright stem are excellent for attracting bees, butterflies, and birds to your garden. 

Once established, the beardtongue is an easy-care, drought-hardy plant that only requires watering every couple of weeks. 

Plant beardtongue where it will get full sun and use well-draining, dry to medium moist soil.

Conclusion

There you have it. A list of 15 drought tolerant plants that you can plant in your landscape without compromising on color. There is no reason not to include flowers in your outdoor space.

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