Drought-Tolerant Shrubs for Your Region

Fine Gardening – Issue 206
Clockwise from left: ‘Bennett's White’ rock rose, Photo: Joan Gravell/Alamy Stock Photo; Hesse cotoneaster, Photo:; Firebush, Photo: Michelle Gervais

According to NASA Earth Observatory, one-third of the United States experienced some level of drought in 2020. Unfortunately, we know this was not a random anomaly but an increasing trend with more and more of the country experiencing extended dry spells.

Whether out of necessity or an interest in making more ecofriendly gardening decisions, many gardeners are seeking out water-wise and drought-tolerant plants. Gardeners in some regions have been dealing with drought for decades, while others are just learning about the many plants that don’t need a regular drenching. But even when you have that figured out, how do you know if a drought-tolerant plant will survive the sudden week of non-stop rain your region might experience? Or if a drought-tolerant plant will also survive the harsh winds or high humidity that is common in your region? To help answer some of these questions, we asked some regional plant experts to pick their favorite drought-tolerant shrubs for their region.

Below, you’ll find expert-selected, resilient shrubs that can easily become stars or backbones of your garden, while shrugging off anything your region’s climate throws their way.