Whether you are located in an area plagued by recent droughts, live in a natural desert climate, or just have a few spots on your property where you don’t have irrigation infrastructure already in place, this list is for you. Below you’ll find an awesome mix of resources providing all you need to know about drought tolerant plants.
Why use drought tolerant plants?
Here’s a quick Drought Tolerant Plants Green Sheet, from University of California Cooperative Extension, highlighting the benefits and a little history on drought tolerant plants. Spending some time with this sheet will help ensure success in your drought tolerant garden. It also includes references to other resources you may be interested in exploring. It’s a quick read (albeit a little California-centric) I think you’ll enjoy.
Just how do you build your drought tolerant garden?
Here is a 14-step list of things you should consider when preparing your property for drought tolerant plants.
How does local climate impact your plant choices?
The number of extremely hot days your area gets on average annually will impact the types of plants that will thrive or die in your garden. This heat zone map and finder is really helpful as most plants now have a heat zone rating. You can look at the map to see how your area rates or search for your zip code to get your rating.
What plants are appropriate for your local climate conditions?
Here are a handful of local and regional drought tolerant plant lists I find to be easy to use, comprehensive and helpful. If you have more to add, please share by posting a comment below.
- California: The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum developed an “All-Star” database of 100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum. Many of them are California native plants and support and encourage native wildlife. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California. The plant database is searchable by plant name, type of plant, size or light condition…plus, the site has lots of other great resources. And for Southern Californian’s who prefer only the best, here are the top 50 performing drought tolerant plants in the Nifty-50 list by the San Diego County Water Authority. Another great California native plant database is mynativeplants.com. Here, you can search for your area, climate and soil conditions or you can search for plants by the county in which you live/work. Make sure you take into consideration these things when using the plant list.
- Arizona: Department of Water Resources has created a handful of low water-use plant lists. And if you live in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tempe Arizona, you can get a free copy of the book, Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. Best of all, here is a link to the content in the book that is searchable online and includes photos and plant descriptions.
- Pacific Northwest: This is a great plant list for the Pacific NW by the Saving Water Partnership in Seattle, plus other resources for planning your garden based on your site conditions as well as watering and care tips and ideas.
- Northeast: UMass Amherst a school well know for horticulture (Home to one of the best softball programs in the Nation too) created a list of drought tolerant plants here and list of drought tolerant perennials here.
- Florida: This drought tolerant plant list for Florida, by the University of Florida, actually notes where in Florida the plant will thrive and includes other information about drought conditions and how they impact plants.
- North Carolina: Here is a comprehensive list, by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, sortable by plant type.
- Texas: Sorted by sun exposure, Austin Native Landscaping created this list. Most plants listed link to a photo and description.
- National Resources: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center developed a fantastic native plant database that is searchable by state and site conditions. And, perennialresource.com has list of drought tolerant perennials that link to photos and descriptions.
What plants require no water?
Some plants require no water. They may not always look their best without water, but can survive. Here is the list compiled by the UC Sonoma County Master Gardeners for Northern California.
I’m sure you know of a few additional awesome sites. Why not share them with our readers in the comments section below.