9 Best Perennial Plants for Arid Regions

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Just because you live in a dry climate doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy flowering plants and beautiful, colorful vegetation. These are our favorite perennials for arid regions and a few tips on how to weave them into a beautiful landscape.

What is an arid region?

Before you can determine which perennials to plant in your garden, it is vital to understand all you can about your growing region. If you live in the western United States, you likely live in what is known as an arid region. This just means that you don’t have a lot of rain or natural green vegetation. Basically, it’s dry. Very dry. This type of climate can prove to be a real challenge for gardening, especially if you have water restrictions due to drought. However, forming a beautiful flower bed in a desert landscape is possible by taking advantage of naturally drought-tolerant flora and incorporating native plants into your garden. 

Russian sage

Often confused with lavender, Russian sage also has a lovely scent and beautiful purple flowers. It can grow about five feet tall and often forms large bushes that can really fill in empty spaces in your garden. Not only is it drought-tolerant, but it can also stand poor quality soil and cold as well. Enjoy the purple-blue blooms in the summer and early fall and bring some into your home to dry as they retain their color and make excellent decorations.


Though not a cactus variety, agave is a succulent, meaning it stores water in its leaves. It also has long taproots that reach deep into the ground to collect water. Two qualities that make it an excellent choice for arid gardens. Water sparingly, as overwatering can lead to soggy leaves and discoloration. This is a plant that thrives on neglect. Simply let it be, and it will grow tall and strong, its spiky leaves creating a unique visual element in your garden. Plant in full sun for optimal growth.


Though catmint can be invasive if left unchecked, it will also grow incredibly quickly and full in less-than-stellar conditions. It will thrive in virtually any soil quality, doesn’t require a ton of water, and will bloom from summer through fall.


For a lovely, flowering perennial that is also hardy and drought-tolerant, look no further than the purple coneflower. This pretty plant self-seeds ever year, meaning that it will keep coming back and producing vibrant flowers. It is a great choice for sunny areas of the flower bed that need a little color. 


This groundcover works well in arid climates and will spread to cover large areas of the garden. Sedum is low-maintenance and is also one of the more attractive drought-tolerant groundcovers since it produces sweet, delicate flowers. Plant in full sun. 


Pollinators will love these vibrant, colorful blooms. Enjoy lantana in arid regions as it does well in dry conditions and can be trained to trail, bush, or mound, whatever you need to fit into your garden. 

Black-eyed Susan 

Similar to echinacea in shape, the black eyes Susan is an incredibly popular perennial, and with good reason. The plants bloom profusely throughout the summer with vibrant yellow flowers with dark black centers that really catch your eye and add beauty to your garden. Plus, these hardy perennials are great for dividing once mature. 


Also known as blanket flower, this stunning member of the daisy family will really make your landscape pop. The red, yellow, orange, and rust colors of the bloom will make it seem as if your garden is on fire, making this a great choice if you want to spice things up and add some heat to your flowerbeds. 


Though it seems like an obvious choice for an arid garden, many gardeners overlook cactus, thinking that they aren’t as pretty as other plants. Though cactus certainly has a more exotic appeal, it can blend in really well with other, more standard perennials. Plus, many varieties flower during the summer, and all types will stay green throughout the winter. Keep in mind; cactus are usually planted in warm environments, so if you live in a colder, arid climate, you’re out of luck. 

Do you live in an arid region? What perennials do you love? Let us know in the comments below!

-Taylor Ramsey

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