Drought-Resistant Plants

by April Reinhardt
(last updated March 4, 2015)


At any given time, your area may experience short or extended periods of drought and local city councils could impose watering restrictions. Watering restrictions always ban the use of hand-held hose watering and drip irrigation devices for private lawns and gardens, which can spell disaster for landscapers and gardeners.

How can you maintain plants during periods of drought? You could add mulch and organic compost to your soil to help retain soil moisture. You could also conserve water by collecting rainwater in rain barrels and recycle your dishwashing and clothes-washing water for use on your plants. However, another alternative is to plant drought-resistant plants.

Usually when people think of drought-resistant plants, cacti immediately come to mind. While cacti are very low maintenance plants—hardy in extreme sunlight and very little water—your garden can include foliage plants resistant to drought. Some of the attributes to look for in drought-resistant plants include:

  • Narrow leaves, as in ornamental grasses
  • Hairy dense leaves, as in lamb's ears
  • Waxy coated leaves, as in rosemary
  • Thick fleshy succulent stems and leaves, such as cacti
  • Prickly stems and leaves, such as thistle

Take a look around your habitat and look for native plants. Plants that are native to your area are accustomed to your climate, adapt well to changes, and have less need for attention and water. Group similar plants together when planting. Plants requiring little or no water should be planted together, while plants require similar amounts of water should be planted with each other.

Extensive turf grass requires a great deal of water. During times of drought, consider replacing part of your lawn with a landscaped rock garden to include drought-resistant plants such as Yucca and ornamental grasses. You could also replace portions of lawn with drought-resistant shrubs and vines. Some better-known varieties include Hydrangea, Juniper, Trumpetvine, and Honeysuckle.

Rather than bemoaning the loss of lawn space, think of the present predicament as an opportunity to experiment. In addition to extended patio areas, walkways, and other hardscape elements, a myriad of interesting low-water ideas could actually improve the looks of your lawn. Check with your neighborhood nursery for some ideas in this area.

Despite imposed water restrictions or drought conditions, you can still maintain lovely plants. Conserve household water and reuse it to water your plants. Collect rainwater in rain barrels for watering needs. Replace high maintenance plants with drought-resistance plants. And instead of lamenting the loss of lawn space, view the drought or water restrictions as an opportunity to experiment with walkways, special patios, and other hardscape components, combined with drought-resistant plants.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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What is 1 + 5?

2017-05-31 14:01:51


One other hot weather, drought resistant plant tip is to plant any sensitive plants where they get afternoon sun. A plant can often take full sun for a few hours, but will burn if exposed for the entire day.

Also use some sort of top dressing around your plants. Here in the SW we use gravel, but bark/mulch can be used in more temperate climates.

Don't forget that cactus are drought-resistant also. There are species that grow in nearly all climate zones.


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