Plant with the sun in mind for these drought-tolerant plants

We don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that drought-tolerant plants are like mini modern day miracles, especially for people who don’t consider themselves ‘gardeners.’ They give us room for a little laid-back summer amnesia, vacations and demand less water when it can be scarce.

Generally, plants that are native to our area require less water and attention to survive and some heat and drought-tolerant annuals actually thrive in arid conditions.

We’ll cover both drought-tolerant annuals and perennials, but first, when should you consider planting yours?


One of the most popular times to plant anything is spring. Growing conditions are favorable, there’s plenty of moisture and many plants are at their prettiest. But when it comes to drought-tolerant annuals, you’ll want to err on the side of warmth, being sure we’re well past our final frost date and moving into consistently warmer daytime and nighttime temps. Generally May and beyond is a safe bet in Central Indiana and when the selection is at its best.

Drought-tolerant perennials can be planted any time the ground is workable, you just want to be sure not to transplant until spring or fall when there is less stress on your plant.

How to Choose

You’ll want to check the tag on your plants to be sure you’re planting for the correct exposure (e.g. full sun) and allowing enough space for the plant at its mature size. Beyond that, your choices are vast.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite easy going, easy-growing drought-tolerant annuals to get you started, but you’ll want to check the garden center for gorgeous new varieties for fast, fill-in color, texture and style that lasts all summer:

  • Zinnias
  • Purselane
  • Sunimpatiens
  • Wave Petunias
  • Dragon Wing Begonia
  • Lantana

And let’s not forget succulents, our hands-down favorite when it comes to unconventional shape and modern style. These annuals are exceptionally easy to grow with good drainage and plenty of light (not necessarily direct and full afternoon sun), are very forgiving when it comes to low water and drought conditions and can be overwintered inside. Check out more in our WHEN CAN I PLANT Succulents series.

And for perennials that will make the cut in the summer sun and all year long in Indiana, some of our personal favorites:

  • Russian Sage
  • Sedum
  • Achillea Yarrow
  • Gaillardia
  • Lavender
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Day Lillies

Plus, once shrubs and evergreens are well established (after 1-2 years), most require very little supplemental water except in extreme drought conditions.

Planting & Care

As we mentioned, you can plant perennials any time the soil is workable. And annuals are best planted in late spring through summer.

Once you’ve chosen your plants, check out Your Guide to Landscape Care, a reference that will take you through planting, watering, fertilizing and when required, pruning.

And for tips on how to help your plants and lawn survive and thrive during a dry summer or full-on drought, check out 8 Things You Can Do to Deal with Summer Drought.