Dynamite Drought Tolerant Garden Design

Dynamite Drought Tolerant Garden Design

When you envision a drought-tolerant garden, what comes to mind? Let me guess: copious amounts of rocks and sand surrounded by Cacti and other spiny, pokey, pointy plants? While those beautiful species are some options, there's so much more you can plant as well to conserve water! 

Don't believe me? Well, then take a peek at these drought-tolerant (yet lush as heck) planting combos. We're mixing bulbs, perennials, succulents, and even houseplants to create stunning low-water garden displays with no pokey plants in sight! 

Plan Combos Smartly

When grouping different plants together in one space, they all must share the same growing requirements. For example, sun-loving plants go with other sun-loving plants and water-loving plants with other water-loving plants, and so forth. 

This rule couldn't be more accurate than with drought-tolerant garden designs, and it's particularly true for container plantings. That means no sneaking in Hostas or other thirsty plants simply because they look good. Trust us—you'll have one plant overwatered while the other is gasping for another sip. Some plants just aren't meant to be together!

Perfect Drought-Busting Planting Combos

Okay, enough with all the rules—let’s get into the fun stuff! Here are a few of our all-time favorite planting combos that conserve water while adding a big splash of color for months on end:

  • Drought-Tolerant Container Design

We’ll be the first to admit that anything grown in a container requires a bit more care than ground plantings, but when you start with drought-tolerant types, that carefree charm is all yours! We suggest a heavenly-scented Plumeria in the center of your pot as the focal point, followed by a single kind of rosette-form Succulent in a ring around the Plumeria. Top it all off with some cascading silver Ponyfoot, and BAM! You have a colorful, drought-tolerant container garden with fragrance, texture, and interest!

Tip: Don’t be afraid to mix different plants like perennials, succulents, and annuals. As long as they have the same soil, sun exposure, and water requirements, they’ll be just fine.

  • Water-Saving Garden USDA Hardiness Zones 8+

Are you a warm climate gardener? Create a spectacular drought-tolerant yet heat-loving blend using Giant Upright Alocasia for a large tropical backdrop, then add groupings of Agapanthus and Reblooming Bearded Iris. You’ll have a stunning display in no time that requires very little care but provides ample color and year-round form.  

Tip: When using groupings of a single type of plant (3–5 Agapanthus, for example), use the same variety and color for maximum impact.

  • Water-Saving Garden: USDA Hardiness Zones 7-8

Now, don’t think we forgot about those gardening in cooler regions! While these growing conditions aren’t quite as harsh or arid, conserving water is still of tremendous value. 

Our best advice? Start with an evergreen backdrop, such as drought-tolerant shrubs with fascinating foliage, then add groupings of color in the foreground. DayliliesEremurus, and Allium are fantastic options for an early summer show, but leave some space in the back for large bloomers!

Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for plants with different foliage colors and textures to keep your garden looking sensational long after the blooms fade.

Move Those Low-Water Houseplants Outside

Fun fact: Most houseplants are tropical in nature because they adapt easily to growing indoors. And some of them don’t require copious amounts of water to thrive, making them perfect candidates for moving outside when the weather warms up.

One of our favorites is Sansevieria. This tough plant is extremely drought tolerant and will thrive outside as long as you give them enough dappled shade, so move those containers out to your shaded patio or deck for a dramatic, tropical look all season long. Bring them in before the first frost and you’re good to go through the winter season.

Other low-water houseplants that can be moved outside? Ponytail Palm, ZZ Plant, Pothos, Dracaena, and all Succulents and Air Plants. 

Get the Tropical Look Without All the Watering

Who doesn’t love a good tropical-looking garden? And while true tropical plants are often associated with high water usage, not all are water hogs—and some plants just look tropical. We’re going to use them all! These faves deliver eye-popping color, amazing form and texture, and all the low-water ways you can handle:

KniphofiaEremurusAgapanthusLycorisTuberose, IxiaBee Balm, GaillardiaCoreopsis, Bearded IrisPlumeria, Daylily

First-Year Care Tips for Drought-Tolerant Gardens

Here comes a PSA: labels like "drought-tolerant" or "easy care" do NOT imply no water or care altogether. All plants require some water or care to get established, so you'll have to keep that in mind as yours work to make themselves at home. After just one season in the ground, you'll notice the drought-tolerant plants becoming less dependent on water and more capable of handling drought. 

Finally, be sure to prepare your soil well before planting—that means amending for proper drainage or using potting soil in containers that's recommended for drought-tolerant plants. Drainage is vital with these low-maintenance growers, as sitting in water will make them noticeably unhappy. 

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