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10 drought-tolerant plants for your garden

Dreaming of a low-maintenance garden? These plants require little water, making them easy to care for (plus they'll stand up to a hot Canadian summer!).
By Sarah Nixon
10 drought-tolerant plants for your garden

Across much of the country, summer can bring long periods of dry weather, which means extra care for your garden. It's important to get out there and water all your perennials, shrubs and trees. But first give attention to the little guys—the seeds or newly germinated seedlings, which will need watering gently every day. Next are the newly transplanted seedlings who still have small root systems. They should be generously watered every couple of days. If you have sandy soil you will need to water more often than regular soil. With clay soils you can get away with less watering, but chronic under-watering will stress the plants and make them more susceptible to disease and pests (and they won't bloom to their potential).

There are some plants, however, that are more tolerant of drought and will only need to be watered very occasionally. You'll need to set them up for success by incorporating plenty of compost into the soil when planting and watering regularly throughout the first month or two to help get them established. After that they will need watering less often. Here are 10 to get you started:

10 drought tolerant plants for your garden

Munstead Lavender

Not only does this perennial produce a brilliantly smelling essential oil, its fragrance has been linked to promoting relaxation and sleep. Care: likes good drainage and full sun. Prune lightly in the spring. Hardy to zone 4 or 5.

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@hausercreekfarm


Looking for a pollinator-friendly garden? Try Yarrow. This easy-to-care for perennial attracts bees, wasps and (bonus!) butterflies. Care: needs very little care and will also tolerate poor soil fertility. Highly drought tolerant, hardy to zone 3.

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@redheadedgardener.


California Poppy

This hardy annual comes in colours of luminous tangerine and pinks. Poppies self sow, meaning they will come back year after year. Care: direct seeding in the garden is better than transplanting seedlings as the roots don't like to be disturbed.

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@calelart.


Easy to start from seed, Cosmos are a great choice if you want to attract pollinators. Care: they prefer poor, dry soil with little fertilizer.

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@karlie.lorraine.

Lambs Ear

With leaves soft to the touch, this is the plant you loved as a kid! This hardy perennial blooms pink-purple flowers during the summer months. Its silver colour brings an interesting element into the garden's colour palette. Care: prefers a less humid climate. Hardy to zone 5.

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@beats_by_zert300.


Red Hot Poker

This unusual looking plant has fiery red, orange and yellow spiky-looking flowers that attract hummingbirds. Care: plant in a sandy soil with added compost. Hardy to zone 7. 

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@Danisboxx

Sedum (and other succulents)

Succulents are having a moment and good news — there are many varieties. From upright for flower beds to creeping for ground cover, sedums and succulents are an excellent choice for gardens that have a lot of rocks because they grow between the cracks. Some sedums bloom flowers, such as Sedum Telephium (the Purple Emperor), which has thick succulent leaves and clusters of pink flowers. Care: you can propagate new plants by rooting leaves. Gently break one off, let the cut surface callus over for a day or two then plant this tip in a small pot. Keep soil moist but not too wet. Hardy to zone 3.  

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@greenstreet_gardens.

Russian Sage

This perennial is deer resistant and comes in tall and short varieties (the short blooms small purple-blue flowers). But please don't confuse with edible varieties of sage — this one can't be eaten or cooked! Care: will be stronger if not fertilized. In spring, cut the old stems down to just above the new growth. Hardy to zone 3.  

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@liveadayinthelight.


False Indigo

This native wild flower produces pretty, delicate foliage that is deer resistant. It comes in several colours. Care: False Indigo can grow quite large so give it lots of space when you plant. Hardy to zone 4. 

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@karen_kaul.

Spring flowering bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths need moisture in the spring when there is usually more rain but in the summer they go dormant and actually prefer to be kept on the dry side. Care: plant tulips in the fall to get them next spring.  

10 drought-tolerant plants for your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@weslee_photography.

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