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How to Select, Plant, and Care for Drought-Tolerant Plants in Arid Climates

Linda enjoys tending her plants and flowers. I have written a variety of gardening articles that are about flowers, arid plants, and trees.

This article will take a look at drought-tolerant plants and how they can be excellent additions to your landscape, particularly if you live in an arid climate.

This article will take a look at drought-tolerant plants and how they can be excellent additions to your landscape, particularly if you live in an arid climate.

It may seem like there will never be a moment when plants will fail to get their share of water during the early and sometimes rain-drenched days of spring. But drought can affect any region, particularly arid climates. When this happens, your garden will need provisions to make sure that it withstands a drought.

Dry spells can cause physical changes in your plants. They can begin to wilt and their leaves and stalks can dry out, potentially causing long-term damage to the integrity of your plants and making them more vulnerable to diseases.

What should a gardener be prepared to do? Though you may not be able to stop the drought from occurring, you can nevertheless plant more drought-tolerant species, so that your plants are better equipped to withstand dry spells when they come along.

Evergreen Pine White Fir

Evergreen Pine White Fir

Some Characteristics of Drought Tolerance

Some drought-tolerant plants drop their leaves or have deep stems that are hollow and segmented between the leaves.

The evergreens are deciduous trees with small leaves and needles. Some have coated wax coverings like the North American native white fir (Abies concolor). Another evergreens may have shiny leaves that help preserve water, such as the hoya wax vines.

Drought-tolerant plants such as false blue indigo (Baptisia austalis) have deep roots that draw far below the soil surface in humidity, whereas silver sage (Salvia argentea) excels at retaining moisture on the surface of its leaves.

Zoysia grass turf is used in a hydroponic system.

Zoysia grass turf is used in a hydroponic system.

Plants That Thrive in Arid Climates

Homeowners should collaborate with garden centers and landscape practitioners to create gardens that are full of water-wise plants and flowers. Spanish lavender, gopher spurge, and kangaroo paw are some examples of plants that can thrive with limited water. Succulents are good plants for landscape design that are tolerant of drought as well.

Here is an incomplete list of plants that can thrive in arid climates:

  • Black-eyed Susan: one of the sunflower yellow bloomers.
  • Ice vine: a hardy groundcover that comes in a range of colors.
  • Tickseed: heat and drought tolerant and creates a mound of colorful blooms.
  • Sage and salvia: very pest resistant and provides vivid and fragrant foliage and blooms.
  • Lantana: a butterfly magnet and has gorgeous orange, violet, red, and yellow blooms.
  • Sedum-herb blanket: a daisy fuzzy bloomer and a flowering herb.
  • Zinnia: an annual with a bright, daisy-like flowerhead that provides food for butterflies.
  • Sunflower: contains deep roots and its flowerheads provide edible seeds.
  • Wax myrtle: a shrub that features a spicy fragrance and pale blue berries.
  • Juniper: conifers that are in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family.
Gardeners watering arid plants during the summer.

Gardeners watering arid plants during the summer.

Don't Water Too Much

Excessive watering can foster the growth of deep roots (instead of shallow ones) that will require regular watering to survive. The contributes to poor production and premature, weak, or damaged plants.

Plants grouped together need similar water and sun exposure.

The most common reason plants fail is overwatering.

The most common reason plants fail is overwatering.

Different Soil Types

Evaporation rates and humidity levels among landscape areas differ significantly. When well draining, sandy soil dries much sooner. Although it is possible that the thick clay soil will stay wet longer. The addition of sun and wind exposure will produce a dry microclimate, even in areas with sufficient moisture, temperature, and rainfall.

Setting a plant up in the right soil and overall landscapes could mean the difference between success and failure.

Setting a plant up in the right soil and overall landscapes could mean the difference between success and failure.

Add a Layer of Mulch

By decreasing the evaporation of soil moisture, mulch will protect fragile plants and the rest of the landscape. The mulch will keep the soil moist and cold.

During establishment, even drought-tolerant plants need supplemental irrigation. The plant will need less maintenance once the root system is developed, however. To preserve soil moisture for newly growing plants, add mulch.

Use Rain Barrels

You can maximize the volume of water that can be stored by setting up rain barrels or cisterns to downspouts and rain chains at the corners of your house. When the weather dries up, the spring rain can be used for flowers and vegetable gardens.

Rain barrels catch and retain water from the roof for potential uses for lawns, gardens or indoor plants. The rain barrel stores runoff water that comes from your gutters. It's a smart way to save water for your environment.

Rain barrels capture water from roofs and garages that can then be used later during dry spells.

Rain barrels capture water from roofs and garages that can then be used later during dry spells.

Incorporate Organic Materials

Products such as organic manure can change the quality of your soil. Light, fluffy soil with air pockets can be inserted effectively during flooding between the soil water particles to maintain humidity for plants.

When it comes to adding organic material to your soil, generally fertilizer, green manure, leaf mold, and animal manure are typically used. Moldy, rotting material does not seem like a helpful thing to have in your yard, but the process of decomposition strengthens the soil.

The composition of all soil types from gritty sand to hard clay is enhanced by organic matter applied to the garden soil. It makes sandy soil more capable of holding moisture long enough for the plants to take advantage of its nutrients. It also increases the water retention in thick clay soil.

Adding compost or other organic matter can help your plants survive a drought.

Adding compost or other organic matter can help your plants survive a drought.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 21, 2020:

Pamela, I'm glad you enjoyed the info about the arid climate and drought plants to help save the water!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 21, 2020:

Emmy Ali, you liked the article about the drought plants to save some of the water conservations!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 21, 2020:

Linda Crampton, glad you like this article about the drought plants!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on October 21, 2020:

This is an interesting article with a good presentation.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 21, 2020:

Peggy, xeriscaping is great does help landscaping in areas dry. There are also water conservations!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 21, 2020:

The use of xeriscaping is particularly popular in dry climates. Using drought-hearty plants is a good idea to save on water conservation. You have given some good tips in your article.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 20, 2020:

This is an interesting article. It contains a lot of useful information for gardeners to think about.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 20, 2020:

This is an excellent article with a wealth of information. I think your plant choices are very good.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 20, 2020:

Liz, glad you enjoyed the article. Here in Arizona has become heat stress drought during this summer. Some of my trees and plants are unfortunately wilting, crunchy and leaf dropping. Hopefully we'll get rain and snow.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 20, 2020:

This is a very environmentally friendly and appropriate article for the time we are living in. You make great suggestions and you have put together an interesting and well-presented article.