Drought Tolerant Annuals (10 Annuals For Dry Climates)


Annual plants live for only one growing season, so you will have to replace them every year.  However, if you want them to look nice during their year of life, they might need to survive in your dry climate.

So, what are some drought tolerant annual plants?  Drought tolerant annual plants include: Bachelor’s Buttons, Borage, California Bluebells, Common Cosmos, Partridge Pea, Roselle, Sensitive Plant, Sunflower, and Zinnia. Some of these plants have attractive foliage or flowers to add style to your garden.

Of course, some of these plants like full sun, while others can tolerate at least some shade.

In this article, we’ll talk about 10 drought tolerant annual plants.  We’ll also take a look at what to provide for each one as far as light, water, and other important growth factors.

Let’s get started.

10 Drought Tolerant Annuals

There are lots of drought tolerant annual plants, but here is a list of 10 to start with:

  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Borage
  • California Bluebells
  • Common Cosmos
  • Partridge Pea
  • Roselle
  • Sensitive Plant
  • Spider Flower
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnia

Let’s begin with Bachelor’s Buttons.

Bachelor’s Buttons

Bachelor’s Buttons or Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy blue or purple blue (sometimes pink or white) flowers in late spring or summer.

Bachelor's Buttons
Bachelor’s Buttons is a drought tolerant annual with showy blue flowers.

Bachelor’s Buttons needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Bachelor’s Buttons prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.6 to 7.8).

This plant grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet, with a width of 1 to 2 feet.

You can propagate Bachelor’s Buttons by seeds (the plant is self fertile).

You can learn more about Bachelor’s Buttons from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Bachelor’s Buttons from Eden Brothers.

Borage

Borage is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy, fragrant, tiny (less than 1 inch) white, pink, or blue flowers (possibly year-round).

Borage
Borage is a drought tolerant annual with showy and fragrant white, pink, or blue flowers.

Borage needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Borage prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH of 6.0 to 7.0).

Borage can tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 3a (as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or –40 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 20 to 40 inches, with a width of 16 to 28 inches.

You can propagate Borage by seeds.

You can learn more about Borage from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Borage from American Meadows.

California Bluebells

California Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy small (1 to 2 inch) blue flowers in late winter or spring.

California Bluebells
California Bluebells is a drought tolerant annual with showy small blue flowers.

California Bluebells needs moderate moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

California Bluebells needs full sun.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.6 to 7.3).

This plant grows to a height of 8 to 24 inches.

You can propagate California Bluebells by seeds.

You can learn more about California Bluebells from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find California Bluebells from Seed Corner.

Common Cosmos

Common Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy pink or white flowers in summer or fall.

Common Cosmos Pink
Common Cosmos is a drought tolerant annual with showy pink or white flowers.

Common Cosmos needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Common Cosmos prefers full sun but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to alkaline soil (pH of 6.6 to 8.5).

This plant grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches.

You can propagate Common Cosmos by division or seeds.

You can learn more about Common Cosmos from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Common Cosmos from High Country Gardens.

Partridge Pea

Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy small (1 to 2 inch) yellow flowers in summer or fall.

Partridge Pea
Partridge Pea is a drought tolerant annual with showy small yellow flowers.

Partridge Pea needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Partridge Pea prefers full sun but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.1 to 7.8).

This plant grows to a height of 12 to 36 inches, with a width of 12 to 18 inches.

You can propagate Partridge Pea by seeds.

You can learn more about Partridge Pea from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Partridge Pea from American Meadows.

Roselle

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy red flowers in summer or early fall.

Roselle
Roselle is a drought tolerant annual with showy red flowers.

Roselle needs moderate moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Roselle prefers full sun but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.1 to 7.8).

This plant grows to a height of 4 to 8 feet, with a width of 4 to 6 feet.

You can propagate Roselle by stem cuttings, tip cuttings, cane cuttings, or seeds.

You can learn more about Roselle from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Roselle from Sow Exotic.

Sensitive Plant

Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica) is a drought tolerant annual plant that produces showy tiny (less than 1 inch) lavender, pink, or purple flowers in summer.

Sensitive Plant
Sensitive Plant is a drought tolerant annual with tiny lavender, pink, or purple flowers.

Sensitive Plant needs moderate moisture levels, and it tolerates poor soil.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Sensitive Plant needs full sun.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.6 to 7.5).

Sensitive Plant can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 9a (as cold as 20 degrees Fahrenheit or -7 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 12 inches.

You can propagate Sensitive Plant by seeds.

You can learn more about Sensitive Plant from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Sensitive Plant from the Monticello Shop.

Spider Flower

Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana) is a drought tolerant annual that produces showy fragrant flowers (they can be pink, white, or other colors) in late spring, summer, or fall.

Spider Flower
Spider Flower is a drought tolerant annual with showy, fragrant flowers (often pink or white).

Spider Flower needs moderate moisture to dry levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Spider Flower needs full sun.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.1 to 7.8).

This plant grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches, with a width of 18 to 24 inches.

You can propagate Spider Flower by seeds.

You can learn more about Spider Flower from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Spider Flower from Hudson Valley Seed Company.

Sunflower

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a drought tolerant annual that produces huge (6 to 12 inch) showy fragrant flowers (they can be yellow, orange, or other colors) in summer or fall.

sunflower
Sunflower is a drought tolerant annual with big yellow or orange flowers.

Sunflower needs moderate moisture to dry levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Sunflower needs full sun.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.1 to 7.8).

This plant grows to a height of 48 to 72 inches, with a width of 18 to 36 inches.

You can propagate Sunflower by seeds (the plant is self fertile).

You can learn more about Sunflower from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Sunflower from American Meadows.

You can also learn how long sunflower seeds take to germinate in my article here.

Zinnia

Zinnia is a drought tolerant annual ground cover that produces showy flowers that can be red, orange, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, or white in summer, fall, or early winter.

zinnia
Zinnia is a drought tolerant annual with flowers in red, orange, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, or white.

Zinnia needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Zinnia prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate somewhat acidic to neutral soil (pH of 5.5 to 7.5).

Zinnia can tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 3a (as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or –40 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 1 to 8 feet, with a width of 12 inches.

You can propagate Zinnia by seeds.

You can learn more about Zinnia from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Zinnia from Eden Brothers.

Conclusion

Now you know about 10 drought tolerant annual plants and how to take care of them.  They might also provide inspiration to help you to fill in the landscape for some parts of your yard.

You might also want to check out my article on drought tolerant perennials.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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