Droughts are more common than ever, especially in regions that are already prone to dry conditions. Defined as an extended timeframe in which rainfall is lower than normal, a drought has many negative effects on everyday life, including making it difficult to garden.

While you can take special care to keep plants hydrated when there is no sign of rainfall in the forecast, certain plant varieties across different categories are more suitable than others to survive droughts. A combination of drought-tolerant plants and specific care techniques will help make your garden more resistant to abnormally dry conditions. 

Is my state prone to droughts?

Almost any state can experience periods of drought, even if rarely and only for a few weeks every several years or decades. However, some states are more likely than others to go through drought conditions on a regular basis. The most drought-prone regions in the United States are in parts of the Southwest, with Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, California and New Mexico topping the list.  

Which plants resist drought conditions?

Some plants — such as those that bloom or produce fruit or vegetables early in cool, wet conditions, or those that are particularly delicate — won’t do well when the soil is consistently dry. However, the good news is that there are plants in several top categories that are quite resilient in dry conditions. Here are some of the popular drought-tolerant flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and ground cover. 

Flowering plants

  • Zinnias
  • Marigolds
  • Sunflowers
  • Wildflowers
  • Cosmos
  • Petunias

Fruits and vegetables 

  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Hybrid melons
  • Peppers
  • Greens
  • Lima beans

Herbs

  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Coneflower (echinacea)
  • Chamomile 
  • Lemon balm
  • Fennel

Ground cover

  • Snow-in-summer
  • Phlox
  • Creeping thyme
  • Trailing lantana
  • Spanish daisy
  • Cape weed

Tips for protecting plants during droughts

In addition to choosing plants that do a good job tolerating droughts, implementing several key practices during your gardening routine will help them survive and thrive in dry conditions. 

Providing plants with ample water in a drought is vital, but can be challenging. Installing a drip system with a timer or using a soaker hose will help deliver consistent water that soaks through to plant roots without wasting the precious resource. If you already have a lawn and garden watering system, updating it with high-efficiency spray nozzles will produce an even spray pattern that targets plants while saving water.

Another important step is keeping your garden weed-free. Because weeds soak up water, they are in constant competition with plants for the moisture in the soil. By putting your garden tools to work to remove them, your plants will grow stronger and have access to more water. 

When getting adequate hydration is a top concern, it’s a good idea to minimize or stop the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. The ingredients and chemicals in these soil additives can be too harsh on plants’ delicate roots, stems and leaves during a drought. 

Lastly, don’t forget the mulch. Placing quality mulch around plants helps to lock moisture into the soil while also cooling it and reducing evaporation. Mulch also inhibits the growth of weeds that, as mentioned earlier, compete with plants for water. 

Best drought-tolerant plant seeds available online

Beauty Beyond Belief Drought-Tolerant Wildflower Mix

Beauty Beyond Belief Drought-Tolerant Wildflower Mix

From covering large areas with bright blooms to attracting pollinators, this collection of annual wildflower seeds makes a great addition to any gardener’s planting plans. The included varieties are known for being hardy in drought conditions and dry regions. 

Sold by Amazon

Back to the Roots Organic Peppers Seed Variety Pack

Back to the Roots Organic Peppers Seed Variety Pack

Known for being quite tolerant to dry conditions, peppers are a top choice of gardeners who live in drought-prone areas. This bundle of pepper seeds includes five popular varieties — bell, jalapeno, sweet red, chili cayenne and chili Hungarian hot — that are produced using organic techniques.

Sold by Home Depot

BKM Farms Set of 20 Vegetable Seeds

B&KM Farms Set of 20 Vegetable Seeds

This large collection of seeds contains 20 varieties, including drought-tolerant types like peppers, radishes, onions and more. The set includes a total of 5,000 seeds. 

Sold by Amazon

Back to the Roots Organic Flower Seeds Variety

Back to the Roots Organic Flower Seeds Variety

If you are looking for both perennials and annuals that are hardy in drought conditions, this set has you covered. It includes perennial lavender, and annual zinnias, cosmos, marigolds and sunflowers. The heirloom variety seeds are organic and come with a germination guarantee. 

Sold by Home Depot

Sow Right Lemon Balm, Mint, Chamomile, Echinacea and Lavender Seeds

Sow Right Lemon Balm, Mint, Chamomile, Echinacea and Lavender Seeds

These drought-tolerant herbs will thrive with the right care, even when there’s no rain in sight. The pack includes lemon balm, mint, chamomile, echinacea and lavender seeds, each producing pleasant scents. Plus, they are great for making tea. 

Sold by Amazon

Utopia Seeds Creeping Thyme Ground Cover Seeds

Utopia Seeds Creeping Thyme Ground Cover Seeds

Creeping thyme is a drought-resistant ground cover that expands each year and produces appealing purple blooms. This packet includes 20,000 seeds. 

Sold by Amazon

Essentials for planting in drought-prone areas

Rio Hamza Trading Pine Bark Mulch

Rio Hamza Trading Pine Bark Mulch

Pine mulch is a top choice for locking moisture into the soil around plants. This pack contains four quarts of quality, natural pine bark pieces. 

Sold by Amazon

Rain Bird Electronic Hose Timer and Drip System Expansion with Repair Kit

Rain Bird Electronic Hose Timer and Drip System Expansion with Repair Kit

This easy-to-install kit allows you to automate your watering system to save water while keeping plants hydrated. It comes with a digital timer for customizing your water use, components to expand a drip system and a repair kit to keep it working properly. 

Sold by Home Depot

Apollo Garden Tool Set

Apollo Garden Tool Set

With a trowel, rake, pruners, apron, storage pouch and kneeler, this set is well-stocked for gardening in any conditions. 

Sold by Home Depot

Rain Bird HEVAN15 High Efficiency Spray Nozzle

Rain Bird HEVAN15 High Efficiency Spray Nozzle

The HEVAN15 makes compatible nozzles more efficient at conducting their watering jobs, as it saves water, is easy to adjust and offers various distances with a uniform spray pattern.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

 

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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