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Extension > Gardening Information > Yard and Garden News > Drought-Tolerant Plants

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Drought-Tolerant Plants

Kathy Zuzek, University of Minnesota Extension Educator


Do you live in a geographic area with little rainfall? Do your sandy soils allow water to percolate away quickly? Are you looking for a drought-resistant landscape? Are attractive landscapes and water conservation both goals of yours? Below is a partial list of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials that once established, grow well with little supplemental watering. Within most of the species listed, there are cultivar choices that will provide you with a wide variety of ornamental traits.

Photo 1: Japanese tree lilac. Kathy Zuzek

Deciduous Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Exposure*
Autumn Gold Ginkgo Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’S
Black Walnut Juglans nigra S
Blue BeechCarpinus carolinianaS/Psh/Sh
Bur OakQuercus macrocarpa S
Cockspur hawthornCrataegus crus-galli S
CrabappleMalus spp. S
Dakota Pinnacle® BirchBetula platyphylla ‘Fargo’S
HackberryCeltis occidentalis S
IronwoodOstrya virginiana S/Psh
Japanese Tree Lilac Syringa reticulata S
Kentucky CoffeetreeGymnocladus dioica S
MN Strain RedbudCercis canadensisS/Psh
Northern CatalpaCatalpa speciosaS/Psh
Summertime™ Maackia Maackia amurensis ‘Summertime’S
Thornless HoneylocustGleditsia triancanthos var. inermis S

Deciduous Shrubs

Common NameScientific NameExposure*
BearberryArctostaphylos uva-ursi S
Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpaS/Psh
Bush HoneysuckleDiervilla spp.S/Psh
LilacSyringa spp.S
Common Ninebark Physocarpus opulifoliusS
ForsythiaForsythia spp.S
Gray Dogwood Cornus racemosa S/Psh
Gro-Low Fragrant SumacRhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’S
Hedge CotoneasterCotoneaster lucidus S
Japanese BarberryBerberis thunbergiiS
Korean BarberryBerberis koreanaS
Nannyberry ViburnumViburnum lentagoS/Psh/Sh
Potentilla Potentilla fruticosaS
Rugosa RoseRosa rugosaS
Tiger Eyes® Sumac Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’S

Evergreen Trees & Shrubs

Common NameScientific NameExposure*
Austrian PinePinus nigraS
Chinese JuniperJuniperus chinensisS
Common JuniperJuniperus communisS
Creeping JuniperJuniperus horizontalisS
Eastern Red CedarJuniperus virginianaS
Eastern White PinePinus strobusS
Jack PinePinus banksianaS
Red PinePinus resinosaS
Savin JuniperJuniperus sabinaS
Swiss Stone PinePinus cembraS
White SprucePicea glaucaS/Psh

Herbaceous Perennials

Common NameScientific NameExposure*
AsterAster sppS/Psh.
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia hirtaS
Butterfly weedAsclepias tuberosaS
CatmintNepeta x faasseniiS
CranesbillGeranium spp.Psh/Sh
DaylilyHemerocallis spp.S/Psh
False Blue IndigoBaptisia australisS/Psh
GayfeatherLiatris spp.S
Globe ThistleEchinops ritroS
HostaHosta spp.Psh/Sh
Lamb's EarsStachys byzantinaS/Psh
Little BluestemSchizachryium scopariumS
PasqueflowerPulsatilla patensS
PeonyPaeonia lactifloraS
PrimroseOenothera spp.S
Russian SagePerovskia atriplicifoliaS
SalviaSalvia nemorosaS
StonecropSedum spp.S/Psh
WormwoodArtemisia spp.S/Psh
Prairie DropseedSporobolus heterolepsisS

* S=Sun Psh= Part shade Sh=Full shade

For more information on drought-tolerant plants visit Perennials in Water-Wise Landscapes (pdf) and Tough Trees and Shrubs for Tough Sites.

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Photo 2: Tiger Eyes® Sumac. Kathy Zuzek

Photo 3: Butterfly weed. Kathy Zuzek

Photo 4: Swiss stone pine. Kathy Zuzek

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