Drought Tolerant Plants

drought tolerant plants

drought tolerant plants

Drought tolerant means plants survive without supplemental water. Xeric means plants thrive without supplemental water. There can be a significant difference.

Drought tolerant plants require little if any supplementary water once established.  They rely on rain water and have specialized mechanisms that allow them to survive without water during times of drought. Although they survive without additional water, they do need some water and/or shade occasionally, especially as seedlings or young plants. These plants are often opportunistic and bloom quickly in response to rain and then produce seed rapidly before they senesce (die back). Given additional moisture you may find they thrive for long periods in your garden or landscape.

Montana’s xeric plants thrive with 10 – 12 inches of annual precipitation (semi-arid) on the plains and prairies in the eastern part of the state.  They flourish in hot, dry conditions where they typically flower for long periods of time and then go into a non-flowering state where the plant remains green.

(click for more information on each species)


bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)
common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus)
firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
fringed sage (Artemisia frigida)
fuzzy-tongue penstemon (Penstemon eriantherus)
hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)
nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
shaggy fleabane (Erigeron pumilus)
showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus)
silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus)
silky phacelia (Phacelia sericea)
silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus)
sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
white evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)


big sage (Artemisia tridentata v. tridentata)
fern bush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium)
mountain big sage (Artemisia tridentata v. vaseyana)
rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
silver sage (Artemisia cana)

blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)
bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)
Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides)
prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)
rough fescue (Festuca campestris)