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.

BNP drought tolerant plants available in 2016:

striking dark purple spidery flower with yellow stamens

silky phacelia

alberta penstemon (Penstemon albertinus)
big sage (Artemisia tridentata v. tridentata)
bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)
blue flax (Linum lewisii)
blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)
bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)
clarkia (Clarkia pulchella)
common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
curl-cup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius)
cushion buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium)
cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus)
dotted blazing star (Liatris punctata)
dusty maiden (Chaenactis douglasii)


silver-grey stems with numerous narrow silvery leaves

silver sage

fern bush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium)
field chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum)
fragile prickly pear (Opuntia fragilis)
fringed sage (Artemisia frigida)
fuzzy-tongue penstemon (Penstemon eriantherus)
hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa)
Hood’s phlox (Phlox hoodii)
common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
Lyall’s Penstemon (Penstemon lyallii)
mountain big sage (Artemisia tridentata v. vaseyana)


numerous stalk with 1-2" tall, fingerlike columnar flower heads with yellow rays drooping from base of column

yellow prairie coneflower

mountain sandwort (Arenaria capillaris)

Munro’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)
plains prickly pear (Opuntia polyacantha)
ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)
purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea)
rough fescue (Festuca campestris)
round-leaf alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica)
rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
shaggy fleabane (Erigeron pumilus)
showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus)
shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa)
silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus)


several stems of grey-blue foliage with orange saucer-like flowers with yellow centers

Munro’s globemallow

silky phacelia (Phacelia sericea)
silver sage (Artemisia cana)
silver-leaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata)
silvery groundsel (Senecio canus)
silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus)
sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)
white evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
white prairie aster (Aster falcatus)
narrow-leaf stonecrop (Sedum stenopetalum)
yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)

yucca (Yucca glauca)