According to, as of July 20, 2021, 40.1% of the U.S. is in a drought, with 59.5% of the western U.S. is in extreme to exceptional drought.  Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are experiencing heat and dryness causing the worst drought this century.  If you live in an area experiencing drought, you might want to consider incorporating drought-tolerant plants in your garden.

Drought tolerant gardening is typically known for having low-water plant requirements that are designed to withstand periods without rainfall.  A water-wise garden does not mean you can only grow cactus or succulents, or plants just available neutral in color.   There are many great plants to choose from especially since breeders are coming up with new varieties that require less water. 

 Here are 8 colorful flowers that can handle the sun and heat:

Agapanthus – Agapanthus is often referred to as Lily of the Nile. They are a South African perennial plant and come in blue and white and pop from a balled cluster.  When they bloom you will have flowers appear in a large mass.  The plant grows 2 to 2.5 feet tall.  It can be used as an accent, in a border, in the back of your garden, or in a container. This plant is low-maintenance and easy to grow. Hardiness zones 9-11.

Amsonia – This plant is also known as Blue Star, Blue Dogbane, and Eastern Bluestar. It is a native perennial with clusters of ¾ inch light blue, star-like flowers, which open in late spring to summer.   Amsonia grows best in full sun.  The plant may need to be staked because of its floppy form.  You can cut back the stem after flowering to create a rounder, neater appearance.  The plant looks great in a wildflower garden.  Hardiness zones 3-11.

Blanket Flower – Blanket Flower, also known as Gaillardia, is a perennial, native to the American prairies. The plant has solid and patterned daisy-like flowers that come in red, orange, and yellow. The flower is tough, drought-tolerant, and loves the sun. It blooms throughout the summer and is a pollinator magnet.  The plant grows 18 to 22 inches tall.  Hardiness zones 5-9.

Bougainvillea - Bougainvillea is a tropical vining shrub that comes in a wide array of bright and fanciful colors. This vine requires full sun and prefers its soil to be left a little dry, making it a great plant for drought-tolerant locations.  It does need to be protected from frost and freezing cold weather.  Hardiness zones 9-11.

Catmint – Catmint is extremely versatile and easy to grow perennial. In the early summer, beautiful purple blooms will appear.  After the initial flush of blossoms, the plant continues to show a lot of color well into late summer or early fall. These sun-loving plants can handle just about any soil situation. This drought and heat-tolerant plant is also deer resistant. Hardiness zones 3-9.

Gazania - Gazania is both an annual and perennial known for being drought-tolerant and sun-loving. The beautiful flowers of this plant are about 4 inches in diameter and bloom in bright orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. Many times, the plant will bloom in more than one color. It typically has a base color with a deeper color in the middle. The flowers will only open during the day. In the evening and on cloudy days the flowers are closed. Hardiness zones 9-11.

Globe Thistle - This drought-tolerant perennial has bold purple, round flowers that appear on tall stems.  Globe Thistle will provide eye-catching color anywhere it is planted! Not only does it love sunny spots, but it is deer resistant.  Try planting it as a natural border around your edible garden beds. The flowers attract pollinators, especially ladybugs! Hardiness zones 3-8.

Ice Plant -  Ice Plant is also known as Delosperma. This cold-hardy and drought-tolerant perennial was introduced in the early 1990s.  In the last few years, an explosion of new colors have been introduced which makes this succulent more and more popular. Ice Plants are native to South Africa and are highly reliable in drier, low humidity environments such as the Western United States. Hardiness zones 6-11 (depending on the variety).

Here are a few tips to remember with drought tolerant plants:

  • Drought-tolerant plants need some irrigation to survive, especially when they are in their first season of growth. Shallow root systems may need a bit of additional water until they expand into the soil.
  • Try grouping plants that have similar watering requirements together as this will allows you to water each area just the right amount, reducing the chances of overwatering.
  • Water your drought tolerant plants deeply and infrequently.  Watering this way encourages a healthier root system.

If you have tips on drought-tolerant plants, please share them with us.

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