Drought Tolerant Ground Covers (10 Ground Covers For Dry Soil)


Ground cover plants help to stop soil erosion and add beauty to your yard.  Some ground cover plants can even survive and thrive in drought conditions.

So, what are some drought tolerant ground cover plants?  Drought tolerant ground cover plants include: Blanket Flowers, Common Thyme, Ditch Lily, Hosta, Ice Plant, Maypop, Periwinkle, Purple Heart, Yarrow, and Zinnia. Some of these plants have attractive foliage or flowers to add style to a shaded area of your garden.

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

In this article, we’ll talk about 10 drought tolerant ground cover 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 going.

10 Drought Tolerant Ground Covers

There are plenty of drought tolerant ground cover plants, but here is a list of 10 to start with:

  • Blanket Flowers
  • Common Thyme
  • Ditch Lily
  • Hosta
  • Ice Plant
  • Maypop
  • Periwinkle
  • Purple Heart
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia

Let’s start off with Blanket Flowers.

Blanket Flowers

Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia aristata) is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover plant that produces bicolor red and yellow flowers in spring, summer, or early fall.

blanket flowers
Blanket Flowers is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover with bicolor flowers.

Blanket Flowers needs moderate to dry moisture levels and resists drought, making it suitable for xeriscaping.  It needs good drainage in a container.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Blanket Flowers likes full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to alkaline soil (pH of 6.1 to 8.4).

Blanket Flowers 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 12 to 24 inches, with a width of 12 to 18 inches.  It also resists deer.

You can propagate Blanket Flowers by division or by seeds (the plant is self-fertile).

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

You can find Blanket Flowers from High Country Gardens.

Common Thyme

Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover plant that produces tiny (less than 1 inch) lavender flowers in late spring or early summer.

Common Thyme
Common Thyme is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover with tiny lavender flowers.

Common Thyme needs moderate to dry moisture levels and resists drought.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

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

Common Thyme can tolerate sever 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 6 to 12 inches, with a width of 12 to 18 inches.  It also resists deer.

You can propagate Common Thyme by stem cuttings or by seeds.

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

You can find Common Thyme from Annie’s Annuals.

Ditch Lily

Ditch Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb that produces a showy 3 to 4 inch orange flower with a red eye and gold throat (in late spring or summer).

Ditch Lily
Ditch Lily is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover with showy orange flowers.

Ditch Lily 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.

Ditch Lily prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 6.0 to 8.0).

Ditch Lily 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 24 to 36 inches, with a width of 15 to 18 inches.

You can propagate Ditch Lily by division or by seeds.

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

You can find Ditch Lily from Direct Gardening.

Hosta

Hosta is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb that produces fragrant white flowers in summer or early fall.

Hosta
Hosta is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb with fragrant white flowers.

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

Hosta prefers partial shade.  It prefers neutral soil (pH of 6.5 to 7.5).

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

This plant can grow to a height of 10 to 18 inches, with a width of 36 to 48 inches.

You can propagate Hosta by division, but it will not grow true from seed.

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

You can find Hosta from Spring Hill Nursery.

Ice Plant

 Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi) is a drought tolerant perennial succulent ground cover that produces showy small (1 to 2 inch) mauve, purple, or magenta flowers in summer, fall, or early winter.

Ice Plant
Ice Plant is a drought tolerant perennial succulent ground cover with brilliant purple flowers.

Ice Plant needs moderate to low moisture level.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

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

Ice Plant can tolerate severe cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 5a (as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit or -29 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 3 to 6 inches, with a width of 18 to 24 inches.

You can propagate Ice Plant by division, stem cuttings, or tip cuttings.

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

You can find Ice Plant from Plant Delights.

Maypop

Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) is a drought tolerant perennial vine ground cover that produces showy and fragrant purple flowers in summer or fall.

Maypop
Maypop is a drought tolerant perennial vining ground cover with showy and fragrant purple and white flowers.

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

Maypop prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It prefers acidic to neutral soil (pH of 5.5 to 7.0).

Maypop can tolerate some cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 5b (as cold as -15 degrees Fahrenheit or –26 degrees Celsius).

This plant grows to a height of 6 to 20 feet, with a width of 3 to 6 feet.

You can propagate Maypop by layering, stem cuttings, or seeds.

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

You can find Maypop from Direct Gardening.

Periwinkle

Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb that produces showy tiny (less than 1 inch) white, blue, or lavender flowers in spring, summer, or fall.

Periwinkle
Periwinkle is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb with tiny white, blue, or lavender flowers.

Periwinkle needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  Too much water will cause root rot and damage the plant.

Periwinkle can tolerate partial or full shade, although it can survive in full sun as well.  It prefers acidic to slightly alkaline soil (pH of 5.0 to 8.0).

Periwinkle can tolerate severe 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 6 to 12 inches, with a width of 15 to 18 inches.

You can propagate Periwinkle by layering, division or seeds.

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

You can find Periwinkle from Direct Gardening.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) is a drought tolerant ground cover herb that produces tiny (less than 1 inch) purple or pink flowers year round.

Purple Heart flower
Purple Heart is a drought tolerant ground cover herb with tiny purple or pink flowers.
Image courtesy of user:
SKsiddhartthan via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Purple_heart_flower.jpg

The leaves (up to 7 inches long) are evergreen, with a purple color to match the flowers.  The plant itself grows 12 to 18 inches tall, with a width of 18 inches.

Purple Heart prefers moderate moisture levels.  Too much water will cause root rot and eventually kill the plant.

Purple Heart tolerates humidity and drought, and likes full sun, but it can survive in partial shade.  The plant requires excellent drainage when kept in pots as a houseplant.

It can also be kept as a hanging plant.  You can propagate Purple Heart by stem cuttings, tip cuttings, layering, or seed pods.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, Purple Heart is hardy in Zones 7 to 10, but should be kept as a houseplant in colder climates.

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

Yarrow

Yarrow (Achilliea millefolium) is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb that produces fragrant white or pink flowers in spring or summer.

Yarrow
Yarrow is a drought tolerant perennial ground cover herb with fragrant white or pink flowers.

Yarrow needs moderate to dry moisture levels.  Too much water will cause root rot and damage the plant.

Yarrow prefers full sun, but can survive in partial shade.  It can tolerate a range of acidic or alkaline soil (pH of 4.0 to 8.0).

Yarrow can tolerate extreme cold.  As an outdoor plant, it is hardy to Zone 3 (as cold as -35 degrees Fahrenheit or -37 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 24 to 36 inches and a width of 24 to 36 inches.

You can propagate Yarrow by division, offsets, or stolons and runners.

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

You can find Yarrow from Wilson Bros Gardens.

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 ground cover with showy flowers of various colors.

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 ground cover plants and how to take care of them.  They might also provide inspiration to help you to fill in the landscape for shady parts of your yard.

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

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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