clock menu more-arrow no yes

Drought-Resistant Perennials

Photo by Burpee

"Where drinking water is scarce, it doesn't make sense to use so much of it on our lawns and flowers," says landscape designer Nicole Lopez, who works in drought-prone Santa Monica. "You need to match plants to the climate that you live in. It just doesn't work the other way around."

The perennials in this gallery are excellent choices for low-water gardening. Plant information is provided for each, including climate zone information, which links to our Hardiness Zone Map.

Shown: Sedum 'Autumn Joy' ("Sedum" hybrid 'Autumn Joy')

Deciduous succulent with deep-pink to bronze flowers; grows 2 feet tall; prefers full sun, well-drained soil; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

Yarrow 'Coronation Gold' (Achillea spp.)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Golden yellow flowers on tall silvery-gray leaves from mid-summer to early autumn; grows up to 3 feet high; prefers full sun, well-drained soil; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8.

Silver Artemisias (Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King,' 'Silver Queen,' 'Valerie Finnis')

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Silvery-gray aromatic leaves; grows 18 to 48 inches tall, depending on variety; prefers full sun, well-drained soil; can be invasive in some climates—divide often or contain; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Abundant, purple-pink daisylike blooms; grows 2 to 4 feet tall; prefers full sun, well-drained soil; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10.

Tall Bearded Iris (Iris germanica hybrids)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Ornamental swordlike foliage; distinctive six-petal flowers with fuzzy "beards" bloom in spring; reaches 27 inches tall or more; prefers sun, well-drained soil; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Photo by Burpee

Highly aromatic with pine-needlelike leaves; grows to 5 feet tall; prefers full sun and well-drained soil; hardy to 10 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9.

Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Photo by Burpee

Spreading mound of small, gray-green leaves; small white or light-purple flowers from late spring to early summer; grows 6 to 12 inches tall; prefers full sun or very light shade; hardy to -30 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Photo by Burpee

Mounding evergreen shrub with silvery-gray needlelike leaves and spikes of erect, lavender-purple or white flowers in summer; grows 2 to 3 feet tall; prefers full sun, well-drained soil; hardy to -10 degrees or -20 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis spp.)

Photo by Burpee

Shrubby plant with woolly, gray-green evergreen oval leaves; grows 2 to 3 feet high; prefers full sun and very well-drained soil; hardy to -20 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

Hens & chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Photo by Courtesy Quickmire

Succulent leaves in rosette form; green to blue-green with red or purple highlights in summer; grows 2 to 4 feet tall; prefers full sun or light shade, well-drained soil; hardy to -30 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.

Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder

Silvery, woolly foliage topped by white, star-shaped flowers; grows 2 to 3 inches tall; prefers well drained soil, sunny beds in full sun; hardy to -20 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder

Hairy, bright-green, evergreen foliage; violet, pink, or white flowers in late spring/early summer; grows 2 to 6 inches tall; prefers full sun and fertile, well drained soil; hardy to -40 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10.

Sedum (Sedum spurium)

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder

Fleshy evergreen leaves; loose clusters of purplish or white flowers in summer; grows 4 inches tall; prefers full sun and average to rich soil; hardy to -30 degrees F; USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.