19 Full Sun Drought Tolerant Plants For Your Garden

Kasey Spencer
Full Sun Drought Tolerant Plants For Your Garden

Today, we’re focusing on a very practical and increasingly popular topic in the world of gardening: drought-tolerant plants that thrive in full sun. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the garden, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of incorporating plants that can withstand dry conditions without compromising their beauty.

Choosing the right plants for your garden that can handle both the heat and the lack of water is not just about survival; it’s about creating a sustainable landscape that is both resilient and vibrant. These 19 plants are not only tough and low maintenance but also bring life and color to your garden even during the peak of summer.

Full Sun Drought Tolerant Plants For Your Garden

Let’s explore these hardy species that can make your gardening both easier and more environmentally friendly.

1. Lavender (Lavandula)

Mexican Feather Grass
Source: Wikipedia

Lavender is not just famous for its intoxicating fragrance but also its resilience in sunny and dry conditions. Among the many types, the English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and the French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) are particularly drought-tolerant. These varieties thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, making them perfect for water-scarce gardens.

Planting and Care Tips

  • Plant in open areas where the soil drains well to avoid root rot.
  • Water deeply but infrequently once established, typically only during prolonged dry spells.
  • Prune annually to promote fresh growth and maintain shape.

2. Sedum (Stonecrop)

Image: Envato Elements

Sedum, or stonecrop, is a versatile succulent that comes in various forms and colors, from creeping groundcovers to upright shrubs. These plants are excellent for full sun and require minimal water once they’re established. They’re perfect for adding texture and interest to rock gardens or borders.

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Planting Requirements and Benefits

  • Plant in gritty, poor soil that drains quickly.
  • Sedum is extremely low-maintenance and attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
  • They can spread easily, filling in spaces and suppressing weeds.

3. Agave

Agave plant
Image: Envato Elements

Agave plants are striking succulents of a range of sizes and forms, from small decorative varieties to large, sculptural plants. Known for their rosette-shaped leaves, they can add dramatic flair to any garden setting.

Care Tips and Ideal Conditions for Growth

  • Agaves prefer full sun and can tolerate poor, sandy soils.
  • They need very little water and are generally pest-free.
  • Because of their sharp leaves, place them in areas away from foot traffic.

4. Bougainvillea

Image: Envato Elements

Bougainvillea is a show-stopper with its vibrant, paper-like flowers. It thrives in full sun and can handle dry conditions once established, making it ideal for warm climates.

Planting and Maintenance Advice

  • Ensure ample sunlight for best flowering.
  • Plant in well-drained soil and water moderately; overwatering can reduce blooming.
  • Prune after each bloom cycle to keep the plant compact and to stimulate new flowering.

5. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Perovskia atriplicifolia
Image: Envato Elements

Russian Sage offers a stunning display of lavender-blue flowers and silvery foliage, making it a favorite for both its aesthetic appeal and ease of care in full sun, and dry landscapes.

Care and Planting Tips

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  • Plant in open, sunny spots with well-drained soil.
  • It’s highly drought-tolerant once established and requires minimal watering.
  • Cut back in early spring to promote vigorous new growth and maintain shape.

6. Yucca

Yucca plant
Image: Envato Elements

Yucca plants are known for their striking architectural shapes and hardiness. With their sword-like leaves and tall flower spikes, they serve as focal points in any drought-tolerant garden.

How to Plant and Care for Yucca

  • Yuccas thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, tolerating poor soil conditions.
  • They require minimal watering once established, making them nearly maintenance-free.
  • Remove old, dead leaves and spent flower stalks to keep the plant tidy and healthy.

7. Portulaca (Moss Rose)

Mexican Feather Grass
Source: Wikipedia

Portulaca, or Moss Rose, is a vibrant ground cover that flourishes in harsh, sunny environments. It’s renowned for its colorful, rose-like flowers that open in full sunlight.

Tips for Successful Growth

  • Ideal for hot, sunny spots where other plants struggle.
  • Plant in sandy, well-drained soil and water sparingly.
  • Portulaca is excellent for adding bursts of color to rock gardens or edges.

8. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

California Poppy
Image: Envato Elements

The California Poppy, the state flower of California, is a resilient and beautiful flowering plant that thrives in full sun and poor soil. It’s particularly known for its vibrant orange flowers.

Sowing and Care Instructions

  • Sow seeds directly in the garden in early spring.
  • Water moderately until established, then reduce watering as this plant is drought-tolerant.
  • Deadhead spent blooms to prolong flowering or allow them to self-seed.

9. Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Mexican Feather Grass
Source: Wikipedia

Mexican Feather Grass is a fine-textured grass that sways gracefully in the breeze and adds softness and movement to the garden landscape.

Planting Tips and Care

  • Plant in a sunny location with well-drained soil.
  • Water regularly until established, then reduce frequency; tolerates moderate drought.
  • Cut back in late winter to promote fresh, new growth in spring.

10. Lantana

Image: Envato Elements

Lantana is a tough, resilient plant known for its clusters of small, brightly colored flowers. It can survive full sun exposure and thrives on minimal water, attracting butterflies and other pollinators.

Growing Conditions and Care

  • Plant in areas that receive full sun for maximum flowering.
  • Well-drained soil is crucial, and occasional watering will suffice once established.
  • Prune regularly to maintain shape and encourage blooming.

11. Salvia

Salvia viridis
Image: Envato Elements

Salvia, also known as sage, includes a wide variety of species that are perfect for dry, sunny gardens. These plants produce spikes of flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees.

Planting Instructions and Maintenance

  • Plant in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
  • Water regularly until established; then, most salvia species are quite drought-tolerant.
  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers and prune back in late winter to maintain shape.

12. Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)

Kangaroo paws
Image: Envato Elements

Known for its unique, fuzzy flowers that resemble the paws of a kangaroo, this Australian native is a standout in any garden. It prefers warm, dry climates and full sun.

Care and Planting Details

  • Ensure it’s planted in well-drained soil; it’s especially sensitive to waterlogged conditions.
  • Water moderately; too much moisture can lead to fungal diseases.
  • Cut back old flower stems and foliage in the winter for rejuvenation in spring.

13. Rock Rose (Cistus)

Cistaceae, rock rose flowers
Image: Envato Elements

Rock Rose plants are celebrated for their papery flowers and resilience in dry, sunny gardens. They can offer a burst of blooms with minimal effort.

Tips for Growing and Maintaining Rock Rose

  • Plant in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
  • Water sparingly once established; Rock Rose is extremely drought-tolerant.
  • Pruning is minimal but can be done after flowering to keep the plant compact.

14. Coreopsis

Image: Envato Elements

Coreopsis, often called tickseed, is valued for its long-lasting, cheerful blooms. It comes in shades of yellow, pink, and red, thriving in harsh conditions.

Growing Conditions and Care Tips

  • Ideal for full sun and can tolerate a variety of soil types, though well-drained is best.
  • Water regularly until established, then occasionally during very dry periods.
  • Deadhead to encourage continuous blooming throughout the season.

15. Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens)

Leucophyllum frutescens
Image: Envato Elements

Texas Ranger, or barometer bush, features silver foliage and stunning purple flowers. It’s particularly responsive to humidity and rain, blooming profusely in response to moisture.

Planting and Care Guidelines

  • Thrives in full sun and requires well-drained soil.
  • It’s highly drought-tolerant once established, needing water only during extended dry spells.
  • Prune in late winter to encourage dense growth and more flowering.

16. Euphorbia

Euphorbia Characias
Image: Envato Elements

Euphorbia, often known as spurge, features a striking array of forms from low ground cover to large shrubs. Its sap is toxic, so handle it with care, but its drought tolerance and unique appearance make it a stand out in any garden.

How to Handle and Care for Euphorbia

  • Plant in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil.
  • Water sparingly; euphorbia is extremely drought-resistant.
  • Wear gloves when handling euphorbia to avoid skin irritation from its sap.

17. African Iris (Dietes)

African Iris
Image: Envato Elements

The African Iris is a graceful plant with fan-shaped clumps of light green leaves and beautiful, delicate flowers. It is very tolerant of dry conditions once established.

Growing Tips and Care

  • Best grown in full sun to partial shade.
  • Requires well-drained soil; water moderately until established.
  • Remove spent flowers to promote more blooms and divide clumps every few years to maintain vigor.

18. Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis)

Image: Envato Elements

Jerusalem Sage offers unique whorls of yellow, hooded flowers and woolly, sage-green leaves. It’s both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it an excellent choice for many gardens.

Planting and Maintenance

  • Thrives in full sun and prefers well-drained soil.
  • Water occasionally; too much moisture can lead to root rot.
  • Deadhead flowers and prune lightly to maintain shape and promote health.

19. Artemisia

Image: Envato Elements

Artemisia is known for its aromatic, silvery foliage that adds contrast and texture to the garden. This plant is incredibly drought-tolerant and thrives in poor soils.

Ideal Conditions and Care Tips

  • Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.
  • Water minimally once established; Artemisia is very drought-tolerant.
  • Prune in spring to maintain desired shape and size, and to encourage new growth.

This completes our list of 19 full sun, drought-tolerant plants for your garden. Each of these plants offers something special, whether it’s vibrant blooms, striking foliage, or both, ensuring your garden is a resilient oasis even during the driest times.

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