It’s important for you to know that all plants require water, light, and nutrients to grow. There are however some plants that need little water or can survive long periods of time, once they are established, without watering . These are “drought tolerant” plants. They reduce the demand for potable water in landscapes, require less maintenance, bring ecological diversity and seasonal interest to the landscape. Here in Niagara we have become aware of the dangerously low water levels of our surrounding lakes and rivers. We must all try conserving water. A few simple practices can help the home gardener maintain a beautiful garden while saving precious water, time and effort.

  • First, install a rain barrel, it is a good way to save rain water to use for your gardening needs.
  •  Second, apply mulch in your flower beds, it preserves the moisture and keeps the weeds away. Some examples are shredded bark, wood chips, cocoa beans, cut grass or even  ground covers such as vinca, perennial geraniums, ajuga, thyme or sweet woodruff can act as living mulches in the garden.
  •  Third, plant suitable plants for your site. Choose drought-tolerant plants whenever possible, particularly if watering will be difficult.

Characteristics of Drought Tolerant Plants

Unique leaf structure:

Fine lacy foliage – reduced leaf surface means less water loss

Thick, succulent, waxy leaves – thick leaves store more moisture

Hairy, fuzzy leaves – fine hairs keep moisture at the leaf surface

Where To Plant Drought Tolerant Plants

They perform best in hot, dry climates in full sun and well-drained soil.

Once planted, they require deep and thorough watering on a consistent basis to establish the plant’s root system. Drought tolerant and native plants can only be  drought tolerant after the plant’s root systems have established.

Fertilize drought tolerant plants if they begin to show signs of decline or discoloration.

Most drought-tolerant perennials will perform exceptionally for years without being divided. Exceptions include the most vigorous or prolific perennials such as daylilies, hostas, and tall bearded irises.

Landscape Opportunities For Drought Tolerant Plants

Rock Garden Landscape – rock gardens thrive in both sunny and shady locations. They are inspired by the collection of plants from alpine mountain regions.

Drought tolerant rock garden species include Creeping Juniper, Potentilla fruticosa, Cotoneaster, Spirea varieties, Creeping Thyme, Perennial Alyssum, Ground Phlox, Sedum varieties, Sempervivum.

Butterfly Landscape – these landscapes are low maintenance, colorful, scented and ecologically friendly. For more info about butterfly gardens click here

Commonly Planted Drought Tolerant Species


Honey Locust – Gleditsia triacanthos

Black Locust – Robinia pseudoacacia

Red Oak – Quercus rubra

Kentucky Coffee Tree – Gymnocladus dioicus

Black Walnut – Juglans nigra

Tulip Tree – Liriodendron tulipifera

Red Maple – Acer rubrum

Silver maple – Acer saccharicum

Northern Catalpa – Catalpa speciose

Mountain Ash – Sorbus americana

Red Bud – Cercis canadensis

Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba

English Oak – Quercus robur

Common Horsechestnut – Aesculus hippocastanum

Greenspire Linden – Tilia cordata

European Hornbeam – Carpinus betulus

Pear Chanticleer – Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

Amur Cork Tree – Phelodendron amurense

Norway Maple – Acer platanoides

Amur Maple – Acer ginala

Japanese Lilac – Syringa reticulate


Sumac – Rhus typhina

Fragrant Sumac – Rhus aromatica

Bush Honeysuckle – Diervilla lonicera

Saskatoonberry – Amelanchier alnifolia

Serviceberry – Amelanchier laevis

Nannyberry – Viburnum lentago

Ninebark – Phisocarpus opulifolius

Red Osier Dogwood – Cornus stolonifera

Witchhazel – Hamamelis virginiana

Cinquefoil – Potentilla fruticosa

Meadowsweet Spirea – Spirea latifolia

Snowberry – Simphoricarpus albus

Spirea varieties

Euonimus varieties

Common Boxwood

Barberry varieties


Alpine Currant – Ribes alpinum

Purple leaf Sandcherry – Prunus cistena

Japanese Rose – Rosa rugose

Common Lilac – Syringa vulgaris

Mock Orange – Philadelphus lewisii

Honeysuckle varieties


Bee Balm – Monarda fistulosa

Ox Eye Sunflower – Heliopsis helianthoides

Aster sp.

Black Eyed Susans – Rudbeckia hirta

Coreopsis sp.

Blazing Star – Liatris spicata

Joe – Pye Weed – Eupatorium maculatum

Butterfly Weed – Asclepias tuberosa

Wild columbine – Aquilegia canadensis

Blanket Flower – Gaillardia aristata

Penstemon digitalis – Penstemon

Lavander Hyssop – Agastache foeniculum

False Indigo – Baptistia australis

Purple Coneflower – Echinacea purpurea

Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidii

Autumn Joy Sedum – Sedum spectabile

Daylillies – Hemerocallis sp.

Common Daisy – Chrysanthemum leucanthum

Shasta Daisy – Leucanthemum superbum

Common Yarrow – Achillea millifolium

Common Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia

Speedwell – Veronica longifolia

Perennial Cornflower – Centaurea montana

Dianthus sp.

Lavender – Lavandula officinalis I

ndian Grass – Sorghastrum nutans

Switch Grass – Panicum virgatum

Big Bluestem – Andropogon gerardii

Feather Reed Grass – Calamagrostis acutiflora

Fountain Grass – Pennisetum setaceum

Zebra Grass – Miscanthus sinensis

Blue Fescue – Festuca glauca

Evergreen Trees

White Pine – Pinus strobus

White Spruce – Picea glauca

Colorado Blue Spruce – Picea pungens

Eastern White Cedar – Thuja occidentalis

Austrian Pine – Pinus nigra

Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris

Norway Spruce – Picea abies

Serbian Spruce – Picea omorika

Siberian Larch– Larix sibirica

Evergreen Shrubs

Common juniper – Juniperus communis

Creeping Juniper – Juniperus horizontalis

Mugo Pine –Pinus mugo

Juniperus sabina – Savin Juniper