5 Awesome Drought Tolerant Plant Resources

drought tolerant landscapes can be beautiful Private Residence, Colorado Front Range

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 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, has list of drought tolerant perennials that link to photos and descriptions.
  5. 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.

Richard Restuccia @H2oTrends on Twitter.  If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing.



Posts you may also like

Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.


Refresh Image


  1. Tuesday, 6:21 Alan Harris

    I am glad you mentioned heat. Atlanta use to be a transition zone between warm season turf (Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede) and cool season turf (Fescue). Today it is very hard to maintain even the drought tolerant varieties of Fescue with the increase and frequency of high temperatures.

    For the people in Georgia here is a list of drought tolerant plants:

  2. Tuesday, 6:23 Richard Restuccia

    Thanks Alan! I’m sure our readers appreciate the information.

  3. Tuesday, 10:03 Reed Spector

    Thank you so much for mentioning my drought resistant plants for Texas list! It is still a very much work in progress, but I’m enjoying the loving input so far.

    I enjoyed reading the whole article and will stop by more frequently.

    Thanks again and happy water convservation!


  4. Tuesday, 11:23 DenverWater


    Thanks for the great list of resources for drought tolerant plants! For people in Denver, we have a Xeriscape Resources page, where people can find demonstration gardens, publications, videos and websites.

    We also have various Xeriscape plans for different yard conditions with photos, tips and layout plans.

    Find this information and more at:

    Keep up the great information on water conservation!

  5. Tuesday, 11:29 meredithestremo

    Richard, This post is great and such a good one to share with people concerned with water usage. There are some really attractive plants in your references too. This makes me excited for Spring planting.

  6. Wednesday, 6:06 TeresaWatkinsFL

    While I appreciate the effort to help homeowners with landscaping trends, there are misperceptions about “drought-tolerance” and plants’ water use that are confusing and spread misinformation. Drought-tolerance at its base, is a marketing-term to sell plants to uneducated gardeners, and at its best, weak terminology to describe a normal weather pattern.
    The word drought should only be used primarily for agricultural, government agency regulations, and insurance purposes.
    To infer that plants don’t need water is incorrect. All plants require water, some more than others. This water comes in the form of rainfall, snow, or soil moisture, and if no rainfall, supplemental irrigation. The plant lists cited all specify that the drought-tolerant species are plants that may not need supplemental irrigation after establishment. The key word is establishment. But those species depending on how they are maintained after installation, may not be drought-tolerant. Pruning, mowing, fertilizing practices, over-use of chemicals, site conditions, size and health of the plant all determine water needs of the plant. It also depends on how the plants are installed and how many plants are used. Instant landscapes with crowded plants, drought-tolerant labeled or not, will not be healthy and may not survive.
    The facts are that all plants are drought-tolerant in the right conditions. Xeric plants thrive in desert conditions, while hydric plants can survive droughts in wet habitats.
    Normal dry seasons, like fall and winter in Florida, are not droughts. Droughts occur over a period of months to years.

    Native plants are not more drought-tolerant than non-native plants; i.e. xeric natives and hydric native plant species.
    As in real estate: It’s location, location, location and then best management practices to maintain the landscape.
    Plant lists are passé and result in cookie cutter landscapes and the spread of pest issues.
    Plant lists that do not take into consideration individual site conditions should not be assumed to be correct. in looking at all the plant lists cited as resources, there were many plants that need to be irrigated on a regular basis in certain soil conditions. The best plant databases are those that require individual site condition inputs and then from those responses, provide a list of plants that will thrive in the user’s conditions, such as the St Johns River Water Management District’s Waterwise Landscapes .
    A FAQ link to the site explains droughts and how to assess sites correctly.

  7. Wednesday, 8:02 Drought tolerant plant resources « Envirothink

    [...] is an excellent “go to” resource for information and lists of where to find those drought-tolerant plants that will save you on [...]

  8. [...] modification, which consists of replacing high water using landscapes with lower water use or drought tolerant / native plant [...]

  9. [...] The good news is that sustainable, urban landscaping is possible, as well as, practical. Native plants are widely available and are a natural, long-term solution. Plants such as Texas sage, various [...]

  10. [...] 5 Awesome Drought Tolerant Plant Resources  [...]

  11. [...] Talk to your local water agency about drought tolerant plants. They often have information as well as pictures of plants for your specific [...]

  12. [...] You made the effort to be green and you jumped on the conserve water, only use drought tolerant, native plants sustainability bandwagon and what happened? The plants died and you want to know [...]

  13. [...] in the Southwest. It’s just a start. For more information, take a look at this post on drought tolerant plant resources on the ValleyCrest blog or check out these [...]

  14. [...] Can I replace any high water use plants with more drought tolerant plants [...]

  15. [...] also find a list of great resources on drought-tolerant landscapes in this ValleyCrest blog post. So be sure to check that [...]

© 2015 ValleyCrest Landscape Companies