20 Drought-Tolerant Plants That Beat The Summer Heat

Plant these heat-loving, drought-tolerant plants that thrive in hot weather.

Photo: Albert Fertl/Getty Images

Scorching temperatures can threaten to dry out your lush green plants and colorful blooms, but only if you don't plant wisely. We've rounded up some of our summer plants that can tolerate the heat and look gorgeous while doing it. These drought-tolerant plants can keep every outdoor container and flower bed prospering even when rainfall is scarce, and the heat is relentless. 

Try cheerful Black-Eyed Susans to brighten up a window box or zinnias of all colors—red, orange, yellow, pink, and purple—to add interest to a back porch container garden. Use vibrant purple verbena to make a big statement along the top of a retaining wall, or employ heat-tolerant lantana to attract our favorite garden features—butterflies.

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Smit Na Nakornpanom / EyeEm/Getty Images

Many species of aloe are drought resistant. Aloe brings some sculptural interest to landscaping thanks to their big, bright green succulent leaves. They can survive on little water, but water plants occasionally to prolong their lifespan.

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Purple Serena Angelonia
Van Chaplin

This tropical native, also known as Angelonia angustifolia, blooms all summer and loves the heat. The plant displays showy spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white blossoms, and hybrids offer additional color selections. They are excellent as bedding plants or in containers.

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Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia

Perry L. Struse

Sturdy and easy to grow, this early-summer-blooming flower brightens gardens. Cutting encourages them to rebloom late in the season. The two to four-inch blooms have orange-red rays and a prominent purplish-black cone. Deer usually steer clear of these plants.

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Blanket Flower

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These easygoing summer bloomers feature daisy-like flowers in warm colors—yellow, orange, and red. They thrive on neglect, so put away the watering can and fertilizer. Their blooms make excellent cut flowers.

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Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush
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This flowering shrub, also known as Buddleja davidii, is a fast-growing plant resistant to drought. It produces masses of spiky blooms through the summer months, and butterflies love them. Cultivators have developed varieties in a wide range of colors and sizes.

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Once established, this fragrant plant is tolerant of low-water conditions. These long-lived perennials produce pretty purple flowers alongside gray-green foliage that attracts butterflies and bees. Catmint is excellent for edging plants as it has a sprawling growth pattern.

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Chaste Tree

Chaste Tree
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Purple summertime blooms are the calling cards of these beautiful trees. They are drought-tolerant plantings that add color to the landscape in the height of summer heat. They grow best in full sun and can also handle coastal conditions.

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Albert Fertl/Getty Images

These plants are known for their drought- and heat-tolerant qualities. Their many-colored blooms bring some vibrancy to the garden when everything else is wilting in the heat. One of the most popular is Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflower.

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Westend61/Getty Images

These drought-tolerant and deer-resistant plants are known for their pretty flowers and mounding blue-green foliage. Dianthus grow well along borders in sunny spots in the garden. Bloom time depends on the variety, but each flower has jagged-edged petals.

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Lantanas laugh at heat and snicker at drought. Tiny flowers in tight clusters resembling small nosegays appear continuously in warm weather. Plus, a lantana garden is butterfly heaven—no flowers do a better job attracting them.

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Madagascar Periwinkle

Madagascan Periwinkle
Madagascan Periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus. This plant has been used for hundreds of years as an herbal remedy and is now being used to treat cancer.

John Cancalosi/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Native to Madagascar, India, and tropical Asia, these bushy plants thrive in humid and dry heat. Flowers bloom atop glossy leaves in pure white, pink, rose, or white with a rose or red eye. The flower was formerly known botanically as Vinca rosea, and many people still call it vinca. Editors Tip: Try Nirvana and Cora Madagascar periwinkles.

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Mealycup Sage

Mealycup Sage and Hot Lava Coneflower in Mary Startzman's Garden in Berea, Kentucky
Robbie Caponetto

Tall, densely packed flowers appear on this plant, native to southern New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, in late spring. Blooms vary from deep violet to white. Cuplike calyxes—covered with white hairs—often have a blue or violet tinge. Like other members of the sage family, Mealycup Sage is generally pest free.

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portulaca flowers pink fuchsia
Jenifer Jordan

This fleshy plant is known for brilliant flowers in a variety of colors. Generally, blossoms open fully in bright light and close by mid-afternoon in hot weather. Portulaca thrives in high temperatures and intense sunlight and is not fussy about soil.

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Versatile sedums, also known as stonecrop, can grow with little water. These flowers will produce the healthiest showing of flowers and foliage with weekly water during their blooming seasons. Sedums bloom in tiny, star-shaped flowers.

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Hardy spurge, also known as Euphorbia, produces bright, eye-catching flowers. These plants thrive in even the hottest and driest conditions. These low-maintenance plants are excellent for containers.

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Threadleaf Coreopsis

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Southern natives, these easy-to-grow flowers are members of the sunflower family. Coreopsis yields a profusion of yellow blooms. Their seeds attract birds but not deer.

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This summer bloomer can go without water for extended periods and looks great in beds, containers, and borders. It produces small, spiky flowers and thrives in full sun. Salvia attracts pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

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verbena flowers
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The numerous selections of this flower are some of the garden's most colorful, practical, and easy-to-grow plants. They bloom in late spring, thrive in heat, and tolerate drought. Verbena grows moderately fast, reaching full size in a few weeks. 

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Jason Quick/Getty Images

These plants are drought tolerant because they store water in their trunks. They produce big rosettes of sword-shaped leaves, and some species have big white flowers. Grow as houseplants until their size exceeds your available indoor space.

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BHG / Evgeniya Vlasova

Zinnias are longtime garden favorites for colorful, round flowers. The flexible hot-weather plants don't gain from planting early and stand still until the weather warms up. Zinnias will bloom more after cuttings.

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