Drought-Resistant Plants: Your Guide to Low-Maintenance Gardening

Some Hardy Plants and Flowers That Will Ensure a Lush Garden Even After Vacation

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By Linda Ferraro

Drought-Resistant Plants

Discover the best drought-resistant plants that can handle dry weather: they will manage with dry conditions while adding color and personality to your garden, balcony and interiors.

Vacation time is finally here! But our plants are staying home. To avoid coming back to a desolate sight, it’s best to choose plants that are resilient to sun, heat and require little water.

In truth, summer flowers are the least demanding and among the easiest plants to grow throughout the rest of the year too. This is especially true for those who don’t exactly have a green thumb.

Here’s a rich selection of drought-resistant plants that require minimal watering.

Drought-resistant plants: which need little water

Let’s look at those that truly don’t need much irrigation and withstand strong sun:

  • Cacti stand out with their incredible diversity and low-maintenance appeal, making them perfect for adding a touch of decor with ease. They require very little maintenance and need minimal water (about once a month). There are many types of cacti, ranging from beautifully geometric shapes and varying shades from bright light green to red-violet. Some even produce wonderful flowers!
  • String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). This is an indoor decorative plant with thick, round leaves, hence the beautiful name. Native to South Africa, it can tolerate a dry environment and requires very little water. It goes dormant for several months of the year and requires no care.
  • The Dragon Tree, or Dracaena marginata, makes a bold statement with its rigid green, sword-like leaves. This hardy plant thrives in various temperatures, fits into any indoor setting, and is highly tolerant of dry conditions. It appreciates a misting now and then but watch out for overwatering, especially in dim light where it requires watering only once every three weeks.
  • The Daylily, known scientifically as Hemerocallis, graces gardens with its transient, funnel-shaped blooms in vibrant shades of yellow, pink, orange, and red. Hailing from China, it enjoys a prolonged flowering season and is prolific in its blooms. The Daylily thrives in the heat, basks in full sunlight, and needs a good watering only every ten days.
  • Commonly referred to as the ‘mother-in-law’s tongue,’ the Snake Plant (Sansevieria) sports sharply pointed leaves and asks for very little attention, which makes it a perfect indoor plant. This low-water necessity plant flourishes in anything from dim to bright indoor conditions and can go a long while without a drink, especially during the winter months.
Drought-resistant plants: The Snake Plant
Drought-resistant plants: The Snake Plant

Drought-resistant plants: what plants to put in full sun?

Those with a sunny garden should focus on plants and flowers that can thrive in these conditions. Among perennials, bulbs, and climbers, here are some varieties to consider.

  • The Butterfly Bush, or Buddleia davidii, is a favorite for hedges and borders, earning its name as a haven for butterflies. You can pick from a variety of cultivars that bloom from June through October, are drought-tolerant, and benefit from regular fertilizing.
drought-resistant plants: buddleia davidii
Buddleia davidii
  • Bottlebrushes (or Callistemon), known for its resilience and rustic charm, is a shrub or small tree that demands attention with its vibrant, brush-like flower spikes in shades from red to yellow, blooming from late spring to fall.
  • Jasmine, whether climbing or bush-forming, enchants with its rich fragrance. Thriving in well-suited climates and full sun, it rewards with lush, aromatic blooms.
  • The Rockrose, or Cistus, thrives in the sun-soaked, dry landscapes typical of the Mediterranean. It dons large, delicate flowers from spring to early summer, with a range of colors and often a distinctive central mark, maintaining its allure even when not in bloom with its sage-green or silvery aromatic leaves.
  • Zinnias stand out for their durability and non-stop blossoms, offering a range of sizes and a spectrum of colors from bold to pastel hues, sure to brighten any garden.
drought-resistant plants: zinnias
Zinnias are among the most colorful drought-resistant plants

EXPLORE: A mini-guide to flowers for a sunny balcony

Plants and flowers resistant to sun, heat, and drought

Now let’s see which garden plants better withstand the heat. These varieties are naturally more resistant to heat than others. They all feature splendid blooming. And they benefit from being placed in full sun.

The Seaside Aster is a sunny relative of sunflowers, offering a burst of yellow blooms that enliven any garden, even in poor soil.

  • Agastache delights with vibrant, North American wildflower beauty, perfect for adding a splash of color to borders and beds, topping out at a tidy 40 cm.
  • Begonia, a tropical favorite, boasts a variety of indoor and outdoor options, including the garden-friendly Begonia semperflorens, with its colorful, compact blooms.
drought-resistant plants: begonias
Begonias in full bloom
  • The Blue Daisy, or Felicia amelloides, brings a touch of South African skies to your garden, with charming lilac-blue flowers suited for pots or beds.
  • Dipladenia sanderi, with its cascading Brazilian charm, can climb to impressive heights, offering stunning blooms that are a decorator’s dream.
  • Gazania, hailing from the sun-drenched plains of South Africa, offers dazzling, drought-resistant flowers in warm yellows, oranges, and reds.
  • Pentas, known as ‘star flowers,’ thrive in the summer heat, bringing tropical stars to your garden with their warm, vivid blossoms.
  • Petunias, the beloved florals from South America, cascade in a rainbow of colors, making them a versatile choice for gardens and terraces alike.

Drought-tolerant plants that require little water and little light

Even less demanding are the indoor plants that want little light. Those about to leave for the holidays won’t find any unpleasant surprises leaving one of the following varieties in a lightly or moderately lit apartment.

  • Aloe vera, the minimal-care indoor ornament, doubles as a healing plant for minor wounds and burns, thriving on scant water. Plus, you can easily harvest aloe vera gel at home.
  • Pothos is the go-to companion for the gardening-challenged, flourishing in any spot without a fuss and asking for nothing in return.
drought-resistant plants - pothos
Pothos is decorative and extremely low-maintenance at the same time
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the Tanzanian native, offers a slice of the exotic, standing tough against neglect with its water-storing roots.
  • The Spider Plant, playful and undemanding, happily dangles in a small pot, rarely asking for a sip, making it ideal for high places.
  • Lucky bamboo, a misnomer with African roots, brightens corners with minimal light and care, but watch out for your pets—it’s not for nibbling.
  • Pilea peperomioides, or the ‘Chinese money plant‘, is a stellar choice for dimly lit areas: this Peperomia thrives with minimal water and care.

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