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Heat and Drought Tolerant Perennials For Your Garden

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

It’s time to publish Ruth Clausen’s list of heat and drought tolerant perennials. The heat came early this year and it is taking its toll on some plants.  Over the years I have been planting many of the perennials on her list, with the goal of creating a water-wise garden!

By drought tolerant we mean they can withstand dry conditions for a few days and will recover from drooping during the day.  It doesn’t mean they should stay dry for several days. Drought resistant plants, by contrast, can stay dry for longer periods of time and are well adapted to an arid climate (cactus for example).  Heat tolerant plants can withstand direct sun and high temperatures. They don’t ‘meltdown’ to use Ruth’s words.

In the image shown at the bottom of this post are 6 perennials growing in my garden. On the top row, from left to right are: Purple coneflower, Butterfly weed, Stonecrop; and on the bottom row left to right are: Allium, Black-eyed Susan and Amsonia hubrichtii (which bloomed already).

Here is the list Ruth compiled for us, with botanical name and common name, Or click here to view and print the list now.

Ruth adds this caution: Heat and drought tolerance are relative. This year in much of the country we are experiencing extreme conditions so watering is a must.  Water early in the morning before it gets too hot. It’s not wise to water later in the day so the foliage remains wet overnight. That also attracts thirsty animals such as deer and rabbits. Pots are especially vulnerable and may need water more than once a day. Go back for a second round of pot watering if you can, to be sure the soil is thoroughly wetted. No sprinkling here and there which does more harm than good.

Also Note: New plants need more frequent watering until they are established, even if they are drought and heat tolerant.

Drought Tolerant Perennials


Achillea spp. and cvs   *                    Yarrows

Agastache spp.and cvs *                   Anise hyssop

Allium spp. *                                       Ornamental onions

Amsonia hubrichtii                            Arkansas bluestar

Asclepias tuberosa *                         Butterfly weed

Baptisia cvs                                         False indigo

Echinacea spp. and cvs *                  Purple coneflower

Echinops cvs *                                    Globe thistle

Eryngium spp.                                    Sea hollies

Gaillardia cvs  *                                  Blanket flower

Iberis sempervirens                           Evergreen candytuft

Knautia macedonica                          Knautia

Lantana camara *                              Lantana

Lavandula cvs  *                                 Lavender

Liatris spp. and cvs *                         Gayfeathers, blazing stars

Penstemon pinifolius                         Pineleaf penstemon

Perovskia atriplicifolia *                   Russian sage

Salvia spp. and cvs *                          Sages

Sedum spp. and cvs *                         Stonecrops

Stokesia cvs                                         Stokes’ aster

Vernonia spp.  *                                  Ironweed

Plus Many Ornamental Grasses Including:

Calamagrostis acutiflora                  Feather reed grass

Festuca glauca                                    Blue fescue  

Helictrotrichon sempervirens          Blue oat grass

Muhlenbergia capillaris cvs              Muhly grass

Panicum virgatum cvs                       Switch grass

Heat Tolerant Perennials

Coreopsis spp.and cvs.                        Tickseeds

Gaura lindheimeri                               Wand flower

Helenium spp.and cvs                         Sneezeweed

Hemerocallis spp. and cvs                  Day lilies

Heuchera spp. and cvs                        Coral bells, alumroot

Liriope spp. and cvs                             Lilyturf

Monarda spp. and cvs                        Beebalm

Nepeta spp.and cvs                             Catmints

Rudbeckia spp.and cvs                       Black-eyed Susans

Veronica spp and cvs                          Speedwells

Yucca spp.                                             Yucca

2 thoughts on “Heat and Drought Tolerant Perennials For Your Garden

  1. You should also look at your native vegetation to see what is heat tolerant. For example in Florida we have Lantana, lilies, Gaillardia, aloe, century plants, etc that grow wild and are naturally heat tolerant, to an extent.

  2. Thank you! I live in southern Spain where life is a battle for survival, both for plants and carers!

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