Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 91: Drought-Tolerant Plants

Video by Danielle Sherry and Steve Aitken. Edited by Kara Demos.

It pretty much seems like drought is the norm these days. No matter where you live—East Coast, West Coast, or anywhere in between—periods of no rain are commonplace. Some gardeners out there have been dealing with droughty conditions for decades, while others are just starting to learn what a “real” drought-tolerant plant is. After a record-breaking dry spell last summer (and it looks like we’re shaping up to have much of the same this year), Steve and Danielle decided to highlight some of their favorite plants for dry conditions. Some are East Coast favorites (after all, that’s where we garden), but others are West Coast stunners. There’s even a Colorado native plant that has proven itself useful in gardens around the country.

Expert testimony: Leslie Harris is the owner of LH Gardens, a firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, that designs, installs, and maintains gardens.

Danielle’s Plants

‘Blackhawks’ big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’, Zones 3–9)

Donkeytail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites, Zones 5–9)

Rock rose (Cistus spp. and cvs., Zones 6–9) ‘Alan Fradd’

‘Shimmer’ evening primrose (Oenothera fremontii ‘Shimmer’, Zones 4–8)

'Blackhawks' big bluestem (credit: Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)
‘Blackhawks’ big bluestem. Photo: Intrinsic Perennial Gardens
Donkey-tail spurge
Donkeytail spurge
‘Alan Fradd’ rock rose
‘Alan Fradd’ rock rose
‘Shimmer’ evening primrose
‘Shimmer’ evening primrose

Steve’s Plants

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ sedum (Sedum ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, Zones 3–9)

‘Big Blue’ sea holly (Eryngium zabellii ‘Big Blue’, Zones 5–9)

Blue Fox blue fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Blaufuchs’, Zones 3–9)

‘Alba’ California poppy (Eschscholzia californica ‘Alba’, annual)

‘Alba’ California poppy
‘Alba’ California poppy

‘Big Blue’ sea holly

Blue Fox blue fescue
Blue Fox blue fescue

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ sedum
‘Little Miss Sunshine’ sedum

Expert testimony

Leslie Harris is the owner of LH Gardens, a firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, that designs, installs, and maintains gardens.

Lantana (Lantana camara, Zones 7–10)

Anise-scented sage (Salvia guaranitica, Zones 7–10)

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Zones 3–9)

‘Little Prospect’ witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana ‘Little Prospect’, Zones 3–8)

Lantana (credit: Leslie Harris)
Lantana. Photo: Leslie Harris

Anise-scented sage (credit: Leslie Harris)
Anise-scented sage. Photo: Leslie Harris
‘Little Prospect’ witch hazel. Photo: Leslie Harris
View Comments


  1. galvined 07/20/2021

    Big Blue sea holly (Eryngium zabellii Big Blue and Zones 5-9!
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  2. dragonrest 09/01/2021

    This explanation is very scientific but easy to understand, dragonrest

  3. Mle214 10/13/2021

    Concrete Patios

    Thank you for sharing ideas about drought tolerant plants. keep on sharing.

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