Drought Tolerant Grass (10 Grasses That Grow In Dry Soil)


Grass plants can help to prevent soil erosion and add style to your yard.  Some can even survive and thrive in dry soil or drought conditions so that you can use them for xeriscaping.

So, what are some drought tolerant grasses?  Drought tolerant grasses include: Blue Fescue, Japanese Blood Grass, Maiden Grass, Mexican Feathergrass, Mondo Grass, Monkey Grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Pink Muhly Grass, Prairie Dropseed, and Switch Grass. Some of these plants have attractive foliage or unique flowers to add style to your garden.

Of course, some of these grasses prefer full sun, while others tolerate partial or full shade.

In this article, we’ll talk about 10 drought tolerant grasses.  We’ll also take a look at what they need for light, water, and other important growth factors.

Let’s begin.

10 Drought Tolerant Grasses

There are plenty of drought tolerant grasses, but here are 10 to start with:

  • Blue Fescue
  • Japanese Blood Grass
  • Maiden Grass
  • Mexican Feathergrass
  • Mondo Grass
  • Monkey Grass
  • Pennsylvania Sedge
  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Prairie Dropseed
  • Switch Grass

Let’s start with Blue Fescue.

Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that can produce green or greenish-purple flowers in summer.

Blue Fescue
Blue Fescue is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that can produce greenish purple flowers.
Image courtesy of user:
Raul654 via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Festuca_glauca.jpg

Blue Fescue can handle moist soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Blue Fescue needs full sun.  It prefers acidic soil (pH of 5.6 to 6.0).

Blue Fescue can tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 4a (as cold as -30 degrees Fahrenheit or –34 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 24 inches, with a width of 6 to 9 inches.

You can propagate Blue Fescue by division or by seeds.

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

You can find Blue Fescue from Direct Gardening.

Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that rarely produces flowers.

Japanese Blood Grass
Japanese Blood Grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that rarely produces flowers.

Japanese Blood Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Japanese Blood Grass prefers full sun, but tolerates partial shade.  It prefers moderately acidic to moderately alkaline soil (pH of 6.5 to 7.5).

Japanese Blood Grass can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 5a (as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit or –29 degrees Celsius).

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

You can propagate Japanese Blood Grass by division.

You can learn more about Japanese Blood Grass from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Japanese Blood Grass from the Greenhouse.

Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces showy reddish-copper flowers that later turn silver-white (late summer, fall, or early winter).

Maiden Grass
Maiden Grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that can produces showy reddish-copper flowers that later turn silver-white.

Maiden Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Maiden Grass prefers full sun, but tolerates partial shade.  It prefers moderately acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 5.5 to 7.5).

Maiden Grass can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 5a (as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit or –29 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 4 to 6 feet, with a width of 3 to 6 feet.

You can propagate Maiden Grass by division.

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

You can find Maiden Grass from Wilson Bros Gardens.

Mexican Feathergrass

Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces showy flowers in summer.

Mexican Feathergrass
Mexican Feathergrass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces flowers in summer.

Mexican Feathergrass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Mexican Feathergrass prefers full sun.  It prefers neutral soil (pH of 6.6 to 7.3).

Mexican Feathergrass can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 7a (as cold as 0 degrees Fahrenheit or –18 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet.

You can propagate Mexican Feathergrass by division or seed.

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

You can find Mexican Feathergrass from Greenwood Nursery.

Mondo Grass

Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces pink or lavender flowers in late spring, summer, or fall.

Mondo Grass
Mondo Grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces pink or lavender flowers.
Image courtesy of user:
David J. Stang via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Ophiopogon_japonicus_0zz.jpg

Mondo Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

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

Mondo Grass cannot tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 8b (as cold as 15 degrees Fahrenheit or –9 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches.

You can propagate Mondo Grass by division.

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

You can find Mondo Grass from Wilson Bros Gardens.

Monkey Grass

Monkey Grass (Liriope muscari) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces showy white or lavender flowers in summer or fall.

Monkey Grass
Monkey Grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass with white or lavender flowers.
Image courtesy of user:
Syrio via: Wikimedia Commons:
https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Liriope_muscari,_Institute_
for_Nature_Study,_Tokyo_02.jpg

Monkey Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

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

Monkey Grass can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 6a (as cold as -10 degrees Fahrenheit or –23 degrees Celsius).

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

You can propagate Monkey Grass by division or offsets.

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

You can find Monkey Grass from Wilson Bros Gardens.

Pennsylvania Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces tiny (less than 1 inch) white or yellow flowers in late winter or early spring.

Pennsylvania Sedge
Pennsylvania Sedge is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces tiny white or yellow flowers.

Pennsylvania Sedge can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Pennsylvania Sedge prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial or full shade.  It prefers acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 4.0 to 8.0).

Pennsylvania Sedge 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 up to 36 inches.

You can propagate Pennsylvania Sedge by division or by stolons and runners.

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

You can find Pennsylvania Sedge from Tennessee Wholesale Nursery.

Pink Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces showy pink or red flowers in late summer, fall, or early winter.

Pink Muhly Grass
Pink Muhly grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces pink or red flowers.

Pink Muhly Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Pink Muhly Grass prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers acidic to neutral soil (pH of 5.1 to 7.3).

Pink Muhly Grass can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 5a (as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit or –29 degrees Celsius).

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

You can propagate Pink Muhly Grass by division.

You can learn more about Pink Muhly Grass from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Pink Muhly Grass from Wilson Bros Gardens.

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces green flowers in summer that may turn yellow, tan, or gray.

Prairire Dropseed
Prairie Dropseed is a perennial drought-tolerant grass with green flowers that may turn yellow, tan, or gray.

Prairie Dropseed can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Prairie Dropseed prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers acidic to neutral soil (pH of 6.0 to 7.2).

Prairie Dropseed 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 3 feet.

You can propagate Prairie Dropseed by division or by seeds.

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

You can find Prairie Dropseed from Prairie Nursery.

Switch Grass

Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces tiny (less than 1 inch) pink or red flowers in summer or early fall.

Switch Grass
Switch Grass is a perennial drought-tolerant grass that produces tiny pink or red flowers.

Switch Grass can handle moderately wet soil, but it can survive in dry soil and drought conditions.  It needs good soil drainage.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Switch Grass prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH of 6.1 to 7.3).

Switch Grass can tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 4a (as cold as -30 degrees Fahrenheit or –34 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet, with a width of 3 to 4 feet.

You can propagate Switch Grass by division.

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

You can find Switch Grass from Tennessee Wholesale Nursery.

Conclusion

Now you know about 10 drought tolerant grasses and how to take care of them.  They might provide inspiration to help you to improve your landscape while also preventing soil erosion.

You might also want to check out my article on drought tolerant ground cover plants, my article on drought tolerant perennials, or my article on drought tolerant annuals.

Read my article on drought tolerant flowers to further beautify a dry landscape.

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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