Dry Plants

Here is my list of plants for dry sites (specifically meant for my sister living in the middle of nowhere Nevada, although my knowledge of growing them comes from northern Utah). All these plants usually survive with little to no additional water after the first year or two. They also need good drainage, and low fertility soils. Most are native.


Fringed Sagebrush (Artemisia frigida) or Big Sagebrush (A. tridentata): Growing sagebrush in the garden isn’t for everyone. But consider it in the lower maintenance areas that are seldom seen in the garden. It makes an excellent backdrop with fine grey foliage.

Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius): An evergreen shrub that can function as a specimen plant or even a hedge.

Rubber or Yellow Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus or C. viscidiflorus): Yellow blooms in the fall, with fine grey foliage similar to sagebrush.

rabbit brush

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra):  These taller shrubs sucker, creating a small grove. Good for covering an area.


Threeleaf Sumac (Rhus trilobata): Good fall color and form. Dwarf cultivars are available. My go-to shrub for massing and low hedges.


Desert 4 o’clock: (Mirablis multiflora) This plant spread out from a single tap-root. It has purple flowers in the summer that open in the evenings. Works well on slopped sites.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata): Yellow blooms all summer than have the scent of cocoa. It is my favorite fragrance plant. Looks better with less care.


Sundancer Daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis): Extended summer bloom of cheery little yellow daisies. Can benefit from deadheading, but not required.


Blue Flax (Linum lewisii): Blue flowers in the spring. The plant tends to die out or look horrible in the summer, so plan accordingly.

Other plants worth trying:

  • Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Crag Aster (Aster scopulorum)
  • Puckered Sundrops (Calylophus lavandulifolius)
  • Mountain BeeBalm (Monodella odoratissima)
  • Palmer’s Pensetmon  (Penstemon palmeri)
  • Globemallow (Sphaeralcea)
  • Prince’s Plum (Stanleya pinnata)
  • Yucca
  • Native grasses
  • Cacti and succulents

Many of these plants and pictures are from the Utah Botanical Center. As always, check with your local extension office for information suited to your region.


One thought on “Dry Plants

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s