The Best Drought-Tolerant Perennials

When summer heat kicks in, rely on these drought-tolerant plants to hold their own -- and still look beautiful.


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Lavender
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Lavender

    This plant has it all: It looks great, it smells wonderful, and it's as tough as nails (as long as it's not too wet). Enjoy the blue, lavender, purple, or white flowers in summer. They're great for drying and using in crafts -- and even cooking with.

    Name: Lavandula angustifolia

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 feet tall

    Zones: 5-8

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Yarrow

    Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower -- and deer, rabbits, and most other pests won't touch it. It comes in a number of varieties with blooms in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white.

    Name: Achillea varieties

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall

    Zones: 3-9

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Agastache

    You can rely on agastache to cover itself in blooms throughout the summer and autumn. This variety, 'Desert Sunrise', offers orange blooms that feature pink and lavender tints. It attracts tons of hummingbirds and is a great cut flower, too.

    Name: Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall

    Zones: 5-10

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Sundrops

    Enjoy the cheery yellow blooms of sundrops all the way from spring to early fall. This vigorous perennial takes heat and drought like a champion. Note, though: It can become aggressive in the garden, especially if you have rich soil.

    Name: Oenothera macrocarpa

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall

    Zones: 5-8

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Russian Sage

    We can't help but love Russian sage. One of the toughest plants, it offers fragrant silvery foliage and plumes of violet-purple blooms. Taller varieties are great for the back of the border. Not only is it heat and drought resistant, but deer, rabbits, and most other pests steer clear of it.

    Name: Perovskia atriplicifolia

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall

    Zones: 5-9

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Bush Sage

    Salvia is an all-around great plant. It's very tough, grows well in a range of conditions, produces beautiful flowers, and attracts hummingbirds. What's not to love? 'Raspberry Delight' offers gorgeous raspberry-red flowers over a long season: From late spring to early fall.

    Name: Salvia 'Raspberry Delight'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall

    Zones: 6-10

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Meadow Sage

    Meadow sage produces wonderful clusters of violet-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. These flowers are loved by butterflies and hummingbirds and are great cut flowers.

    Name: Salvia 'May Night'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 28 inches tall

    Zones: 5-9

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Mojave Sage

    Among the most beautiful of the sages, Mojave sage offers beautiful pink blooms that look good well into fall. Even when not in bloom, its gray-green foliage is lovely. Like other salvias, it's great for hummingbirds and butterflies. And it's a great cut flower.

    Name: Salvia pachyphylla

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall

    Zones: 5-9

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Lamb's Ears

    An easy-to-grow ground cover, lamb's ears has soft, fuzzy leaves. Their silvery tone makes them a great foil for just about any plant in the garden. Note, though: Lamb's ear can spread aggressively in rich soil.

    Name: Stachys byzantina

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 18 inches tall

    Zones: 4-8

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Globe Thistle

    One of the best flowers many gardeners have never heard of, globe thistle produces round, metallic-blue flowers though the summer. These flowers are perfect for drying and using in dried-flower projects and other crafts. Plus, it's a cinch to grow!

    Name: Echinops 'Blue Globe'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall

    Zones: 4-9

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Pine-Leaf Penstemon

    This semi-evergreen penstemon bursts into bloom each summer producing masses of bright scarlet-red flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds will love as much as you do. It's a cinch to grow in any sunny spot.

    Name: Penstemon pinifolius

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 18 inches tall

    Zones: 4-10

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Blanket Flower

    A tough prairie plant, gaillardia blooms all summer and into fall. Its flamboyant flowers are usually marked with bright shades of red and yellow.

    Name: Gaillardia 'Kobold'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall

    Zones: 3-8

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Purple Coneflower

    It's hard not to love purple coneflower. This resilient perennial blooms much of the summer producing tons of mauve-purple blooms that hold up really well when cut. Or, if you leave them in the garden, they'll attract scores of butterflies.

    Name: Echinacea purpurea

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall

    Zones: 3-9

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Amsonia

    A tough, but sadly underused perennial, amsonia produces clusters of sky-blue flowers in late spring. It's not just a one-season wonder, though. In autumn, its foliage turns brilliant shades of gold -- enough to rival many of the trees when they put on their fall finery.

    Name: Amsonia tabernaemontana

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall

    Zones: 3-9

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Sedum

    Hundreds of sedum varieties are available and almost every one is tough and drought resistant. While most are grown for their flowers, 'Frosty Morn' has wonderfully variegated leaves that look great from spring to fall. That said, its autumn clusters of pure-pink flowers are great, too.

    Name: Sedum 'Frosty Morn'

    Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 18 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

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