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Drought Tolerant and Heat Tolerant Perennials

Category: Flower Gardens, Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

It’s been hot and dry here in southern New England this summer, and even hotter in many other parts of the country. I asked horticulturist Ruth Clausen for a list of her favorite heat and drought tolerant perennials. I was delighted to see many of the plants in my garden on her list, and I want to keep adding more of them 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 in my garden, many of them blooming now. On the top row, from left to right are: Purple coneflower, Butterfly weed, Stonecrop (will bloom in about a week or so); and on the bottom row left to right are: Allium, Black-eyed Susan and Amsonia hubrichtii (which bloomed in spring).

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

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


10 thoughts on “Drought Tolerant and Heat Tolerant Perennials

  1. This listing of drought tolerant perennials provided by Ruth Clausen is a useful reference. I’m wondering, in the future, would it be possible to provide such information on your website in a downloadable format so that I might print it out, without all the extraneous info on either side? (I wouldn’t need to print out the images either.)

  2. Thanks so much for the lists. I find I have many in my yard, but will add more. Always enjoy you tips and info

  3. Ren Ordaz says:

    Thank you Ruth. It would be really helpful if the list of plants were a pdf or some format that could be printed.
    Thanks again

  4. Candace (Candy) Helmbold says:

    Thank you for your great information. I have several of these plants and will look forward to adding to my cottage garden with addition new plants. Do you know where one can purchase some of the plants you mentioned? Thank you again Candy

  5. That’s a good idea. We can send you the list if you’d like!

  6. That’s a good idea. We can send you the list if you’d like!

  7. Meredith Tumlin says:

    Meredith Tumlin

  8. Connie E Simmons says:

    I order two gist sets sku number 4900GS some months back. They came in the mail Saturday July 25,2020. Your web page said they were made in America but in the gloves they say made in China. The soul reason for buying them from you was they were made in America. I could have bought the same gloves at Walmart for half the price. Sincerely Connie Simmons 713-455-0689 or [email protected]

  9. Dear Connie,
    The soap in the gift set is made in the USA, but the gloves are not. It does not say anywhere on the website that the gloves or the gift set are made in the USA so I’m not sure where you got that information. Since our prints are exclusive to Womanswork (designed in the USA), you would not find anything like these items at Walmart at any price!

  10. Rita Wilson says:

    I am sure struggling this hot time in Okla to keep plants alive. All New Eng asters died a month ago. Goldenrod is near death. It is all I can afford to keep the less than five yr old trees alive. Will see next spring if roots have just dropped the tops to survive. I would love a list, I have some drought and heat tolerant plants and may have to plant lots more. And rearrange some locations. Fall cannot come soon enough for this Fall and Winter person!

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