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Studies show that there are nearly 450,000 species of plants in the world. Naturally, all plants require water to survive. However, some species can thrive without water for months or even years, qualifying as drought-tolerant plants.
Drought-tolerant plants help reduce water use, especially when low rainfall levels. In addition, these plants are likely to adapt to the environment, so you will spend less time pruning, fertilizing, and caring for your plants.
Climate changes have presented gardeners with the challenge of gardening with less water. This makes it important to prioritize the plants with a degree of drought tolerance.
Most drought-tolerant plants boast elaborate adaptation mechanisms, including thick stems and succulent leaves that store more water, glossy, shiny leaves that deflect sunlight, and skinny and needle-like leaves that minimize the rate of water loss.
They also have deeper roots extending to great depths to reach the receding water table. Read on for more information on the nature of these types of plants.
15 Common Drought Tolerant Plants
Agave undoubtedly can be a wonderful architectural element for your garden. It comes in various species, including blue agaves, green agaves, or variegated agaves with a combination of blue/white and green/yellow.
The plant boasts thick succulent leaves that store more moisture for the harshest summer heat. Interestingly, unlike most plants taking up carbon dioxide through stomata during, say, time, agave takes in most of its CO2 at night.
This timing is crucial because it reduces the amount of water that evaporates off the leaves through transpiration.
- Botanical Name: Agave
- USDA Zones: 5 to 11
Jade is a popular succulent plant found in most homes in the USA. Jade offers many benefits, including improving indoor air quality, increasing humidity, and providing unmatched medicinal value.
The plant, also referred to as money or good luck, boasts fleshy paddle-shaped leaves and thick stems that store more moisture, thus requiring low maintenance care.
With over 300 diverse species of Jade plants, you will certainly be spoiled for choice when looking for an incredibly versatile and hardy houseplant.
Thanks to its diverse, unique growth forms, Jade is highly prized for its decorative value. With a bit of watering and light pruning, your jade plant will give you maximum benefits under the harshest conditions.
- Botanical Name: Crassula ovata
- USDA Zones: 9 to 12
ZZ plant is leathery stiff and has shiny leaves that almost look plastic. It boasts broad, attractive, dark green leaves, making it the top choice for homes and offices. Its waxy, smooth leaves reduce water loss through transpiration while reflecting sunlight to brighten rooms.
According to a recent NASA study, the ZZ plant is an air purifier that can effectively remove massive amounts of toxins such as benzene, toluene and xylene from the air.
This drought-tolerant household plant thrives in the harshest conditions, provided there is occasional watering and bright light. However, most ZZ plant varieties are slow growers. You should expect them to reach three feet tall and wide once they reach full maturity.
- Botanical Name: Zamioculcas
- USDA Zones: 9 to 10
Haworth has you covered if you are looking for a pet-friendly plant with little maintenance needs. Also known as the zebra plant, Haworthia is a top collection plant that handles drought without a fuss.
The endemic plant to southern Africa features low-growing rosettes of succulent leaves that store large amounts of water. It stays less than a foot tall and wide and does best in bright light environments with occasional watering.
Water the plant every 2-3 weeks for the best results while allowing the soil to dry out between watering. The trick is to water more often in brighter light and less often in lower light.
- Botanical Name: Haworthia
- USDA Zones: 9 to 11
Pothos are pretty popular for household and office spaces. This easy-to-grow indoor plant is ideal for someone who forgets to water their plants often enough or someone who stays out of their home for long periods.
Native to the Solomon Islands, Pothos tend to be heart-shaped, which helps reduce water loss through transpiration. Some species are variegated with yellow, pale green, or white striations that give a unique decorative element.
Pothos can be planted indoors throughout much of their lifespan. With good care, the plants grow quickly, adding about 18 inches of length each month. They thrive in bright light, and areas that don’t get enough sunlight provide adequate fluorescent lighting.
- Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureum
- USDA Zones: 10 to 12
If you are a beginner in need of an exciting yet hardy addition to your plant collection, go for sago palm. Sago’s palm is another popular drought-tolerant household plant known for its easy care and beautiful feathery foliage.
Sago’s palm is considered a cycad that dates back to prehistoric times. Although it may tolerate low light conditions, this plant typically won’t survive too much moisture. They also love well-drained soils, and overwatering can lead to root rot and eventual death.
This means that you should allow the plant to dry out between watering. It would help if you also considered regular monthly fertilizing to encourage vigorous health and for the plant to bloom.
- Botanical Name: Cycas revoluta
- USDA Zones: 9 to 10
With Burro, you need to look closely at its tail to get an idea of where the plant got its name. Burro’s tail is an exceptional heat and drought-resistant plant ideal for warm to temperate regions.
This hardy plant boasts lush, jelly bean-shaped leaves overlapping to trail the stems. The leaves are succulently well adapted to store more moisture and ensure a limited loss through transpiration.
For best results, water the plant occasionally while letting the soil dry before giving it more water. Also, please keep it in a bright light environment for the plant to reach the desired height quickly.
Botanical Name: Sedum morganianum
USDA Zones: 10 to 11
Aloe vera is famous for its exceptional medicinal abilities, such as helping heal burns and wounds. Aloe easily makes for a great indoor companion because it is also a drought-resistant, low-maintenance indoor plant that can tolerate weeks of neglect.
Its thick, greenish, fleshy leaves fan out the plant’s central stem and store enough water to keep it going for months without watering.
If you consider adding aloe to your collection, ensure you place it in a location that offers bright, indirect, or artificial sunlight. However, aloe doesn’t appreciate direct sunlight as it tends to turn its leaves yellowish.
- Botanical Name: Aloe vera
- USDA Zones: 8 to 11
The Ponytail palm boasts a thick, trunk-like stem that helps store intense moisture for the long term. These unique, hardy indoor plants are easy to grow if you don’t overwater them.
In their native environments, such as eastern Mexico, ponytail plants reach 30 feet in height. However, if you are growing it in gardens as a landscape plant, expect it to reach a maximum of 10 feet tall only. If you are growing it indoors, they don’t usually get to more than 4 feet tall.
- Botanical Name: Beaucarnea recurvata
- USDA Zones: 9
The blanket flower is a tough, drought-tolerant prairie plant that blooms all through summer into fall. It boasts stunning flowers marked with bright shades of yellow and red, making it a natural choice for offices and homes.
The perennial blanket flower species is available in diverse cultivars, including the ‘The Sun,’ ‘Dazzler,'” “Lemons,’ and ‘the Oranges.’ Their stems grow to reach 1 to 3 feet and start blooming from early summer until the onset of frost.
- Botanical Name: Gaillardia x Grandiflora
- USDA Zones: 3 to 10
Few plants are more forgiving of drought and bad soil than sedum. Sedum is a perennial plant boasting thick succulent leaves and fleshy stems that store massive amounts of moisture. It also comes in myriads of varieties to choose from for your garden.
Growing this plant is so easy, making it an ideal option for a novice gardener. The plant is perfect for a garden or yard that gets too little water or too much sun that would otherwise kill other plants. Some varieties grow to about 8cm while others grow up to 1 meter.
- Botanical Name: sedum
- USDA Zones: 4 to 9
Russian Sage is arguably one of the toughest drought-tolerant perennials in the world. Admired for its silvery-gray fragrant foliage and plumes of violet-purple blooms, Russian sage will undoubtedly give a bold design statement in your indoor space or outside garden.
It blooms from late spring until autumn, with its clusters of flowers completely obscuring the leaves, thereby helping reduce moisture loss through transpiration.
It does well in very well-drained soil of average fertility in full sun. However, it generally doesn’t do well in partly shaded locations, leading to unhealthy sprawling.
- Botanical Name: Perovskia atriplicifolia
- USDA Zones: 5 to 10.
Fountain grass is a hardy ornamental grass that grows to about 3 feet tall. The plant boasts purplish-red leaves and flower spikes that extend above the leaves to provide unmatched ornamental value.
The grass turns darker and shinier when exposed to full sun and medium soil moisture. Although it does well in droughts, consider occasionally watering your plant if your location has gone without rainfall for months. Also, remember to stake your plant and site-protect it from strong winds.
- Botanical Name: Pennisetum setaceum
- USDA Zones: 7 to 8
The Kangaroo paw is a native Australian plant with about 11 subspecies. The red and green kangaroo paw is arguably one of the most popularly planted options across several homes and properties in the USA.
The Kangaroo paw does well in dry, sandy areas and can handle prolonged dry spells, thanks to a unique sap typically stored in its roots.
However, they also do well with a moderate amount of soil moisture. Water occasionally in your area has gone for several weeks without rainfall. Avoid watering in winter; protect your plant from strong winds and frost.
- Botanical Name: Anigozanthos
- USDA Zones: 10 to 11
Lavender is a drought-tolerant herb that makes a stunning addition to perennial gardens. The plant boasts exceptional spikes of bluish-purple flowers blooming throughout their growing season.
Prized for its stunning beauty, sweet fragrance, and medicinal properties, lavender is a valued plant that attracts essential pollinators to the garden.
This plant can survive many soils, including poor dry soils. However, it may not do well in areas with limited sunshine and poor drainage.
- Botanical Name: Lavandula spp.
- USDA Zones: 5 to 9
Conclusion on 15 drought plants you can rely on
Are the weather conditions challenging your gardening practices or routines? Many shrubs, vines, trees, and flowers thrive and look great in tough climate conditions and areas. The above plants are some of the most drought-tolerant options that can ensure you enjoy a lush green garden even when you forget to water your plants as you should.
All these species are easy-to-care-for plants that tolerate weeks of neglect and infrequent watering.
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