14 Drought-Tolerant Perennials That Can Survive Tough Summers

echinacea purpurea coneflower
Photo: Bob Stefko

When summer heat and drought kicks in, these tough flowering plants will hold their own. Their beautiful blooms and foliage won't be fazed by a stretch of dry weather.

01 of 14

Yarrow

Yarrow
Bob Stefko

Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champ, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower. Plus deer, rabbits, and most other pests won't touch it. The plant comes in a number of varieties with yellow, orange, red, pink, or white blooms, so you can choose which ones best fit with your garden's color scheme.

Name: Achillea varieties

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

02 of 14

Blanket Flower

gaillardia blanket flowers
David Speer

A tough prairie plant, blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.) blooms all summer and into fall. Its flamboyant flowers are usually marked with bright shades of red and yellow. Most varieties of blanket flowers offer excellent hardiness and nonstop blooms that attract pollinators.

Name: Gaillardia 'Kobold'

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

03 of 14

Pineleaf Penstemon

Pine-Leaf Penstemon
Peter Krumhardt

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, and this drought-resistant plant looks beautiful in bouquets and flower arrangements, too.

Name: Penstemon pinifolius

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 4-10

04 of 14

Agastache

Agastache
Peter Krumhardt

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. This drought-resistant outdoor plant attracts tons of hummingbirds and makes a pretty cut flower, too.

Name: Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 5-10

05 of 14

Sedum

Sedum Autumn Joy’ Stonecrop
Jerry Pavia

Hundreds of sedum varieties are available and almost every one is a tough, drought-resistant flowering plant. Most varieties are grown for their blooms, though you can find some, like 'Frosty Morn,' that have beautifully variegated foliage. No matter which variety you plant, the fleshy, succulent leaves will help sedum hold on to water through any dry spells.

Name: Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

06 of 14

Russian Sage

russian sage perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian Sage. John Strauss

One of the toughest drought-tolerant perennials, Russian sage 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

07 of 14

Bush Sage

Raspberry Delight Salvia bright red flowers
Peter Krumhardt

An all-around tough beauty, bush sage is a species of salvia that grows well in a range of conditions, produces colorful flowers, and attracts hummingbirds. Plus, it's quite drought-resistant, too. What's not to love? 'Raspberry Delight' is one cultivar that 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

08 of 14

Meadow Sage

salvia violet riot in bloom

Another variety of salvia, meadow sage produces eye-catching clusters of violet-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. This drought-resistant perennial plant is also a favorite of pollinators and will help attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.

Name: Salvia 'May Night'

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 28 inches tall

Zones: 5-9

09 of 14

Mojave Sage

Salvia pachyphylla Mojave Sage deep pink flowers
Peter Krumhardt

Among the most beautiful perennial salvias, Mojave sage produces wands of pink blooms that look good from summer well into fall. Even when not in bloom, its gray-green foliage is stunning, so you can enjoy this drought-resistant plant in every season. Native to the hills of California, Mojave sage pairs well with other salvias, lavender, penstemon, and plenty of other drought-tolerant perennials.

Name: Salvia pachyphylla

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

10 of 14

Lavender

tall purple nectar flowers
Randall Schieber

This drought-tolerant plant has it all: Lavender looks beautiful, smells amazing, and it's as tough as nails (except in soggy soil). Enjoy the blue, lavender, purple, or white flowers in summer, and you can even pick some for drying and using in crafts.

Name: Lavandula angustifolia

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 3 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

11 of 14

Lamb's Ears

Lamb's Ears
Stephen Cridland

An easy-to-grow ground cover, lamb's ears has soft, fuzzy leaves. Their silvery tone helps them complement just about any plant in the garden, and despite its cuddly name, this drought-tolerant perennial is tough. Beware, though: Lamb's ear can spread quickly in rich soil, but it's easy to pull up any plants you don't want.

Name: Stachys byzantina

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

12 of 14

Globe Thistle

Globe Thistle
Peter Krumhardt

One of the best flowers many gardeners may not have heard of, globe thistle produces round, metallic-blue flowers throughout the summer. Its interesting blooms are perfect for drying and using in dried-flower projects and other crafts. Plus, it's a cinch to grow with little watering.

Name: Echinops 'Blue Globe'

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

13 of 14

Purple Coneflower

echinacea purpurea coneflower
Bob Stefko

It's easy to see why purple coneflower is such a popular plant. This resilient, drought-tolerant perennial blooms much of the summer, producing tons of pinkish-purple blooms that hold up really well in bouquets. 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

cluster of flowering amsonia ciliata with light blue flowers
Denny Schrock

A tough, yet 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 ciliata

Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

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