We’ve complied a list of our top drought resistant annuals as well as some best practice tips and trips to help your annuals survive and thrive in the heat and drought that comes most summers.

Best Practices for Growing in Dry Conditions

  • The best remedy for poor water availability is a strong root system, unfortunately here in Southwestern Ontario many of our plants freeze off each year and are not able to build up a strong root zone in the short growing season.
  • Cover the soil to prevent water evaporation. Applying several inches of mulch can help create a barrier to keep the root zone protected and moist as well as reduce weed pressure.
  • Choose plants that require less water or can survive in drier conditions.
  • If planting containers choose a high quality soil-less mix (not a top soil or garden soil) like ProMix and add water retaining granular pellets like SoilMoist. This will help create a mix that is easy to grow in that will also hold moisture longer.
  • If your garden beds are sandy, consider adding a 3-in-1 soil (compost, black earth, peat moss) or black earth. This will add organic material to your soil and increase its moisture holding capacity.
  • You should water your plants well for at least four weeks after planting to establish a strong root zone that will help your plant thrive in the drier summer months.

Why Grow Drought Tolerant Plants

  • Growing plants that require less water can help save money.
  • Drought tolerant plants can survive on less water, help reduce your environmental footprint and is more sustainable.

Best Annuals for Dry Locations

  • Gazania – One of the best garden annuals for a dry location. The unreal, vividly coloured flowers of this South African plant bring a touch of the exotic to the garden. Excellent for sun-baked, hot garden sites with dry soil, very low maintenance.
  • Portulaca – If you have a hot and dry location, this is a plant that could add colour to a barren location. Comes in large stunning pink or white blossoms. Succulent-like leaves help hold moisture and make this plant very drought resistant.
  • Cosmos – One of the fastest growing annuals, with lacy leaves and bright pink, white or red daisy-like flowers. Grows best in full sun but can handle partial shade.
  • Zinnia – This is one plant that can stand up to the sun. These zinnias thrive in full sun. One of our most drought resistant plants. Available in a range of colours.
  • Geranium – can handle shady conditions but will bloom less
  • Petunia – One of the most popular annuals, petunias can thrive in handle hot and dry conditions. Wave petunias create a carpet of colour and help keep sun off the soil and keep existing moisture in the ground.
  • Browalia – Has a rare sapphire coloured flower, is an even rarer shade plant that can handle dry conditions. Popular with gardeners with many trees or poor sun conditions. Blooms heavily.
  • Nasturtium – A rapid growing vine with bright red, orange or yellow blooms. Also a great companion plant serving as a natural pest deterrent. Thrives in hot conditions
  • Sunflower – A natural for hot conditions. Beautiful yellow flowers are a favourite with nearly every gardener.
  • Cleome – Can handle shady conditions, prefers sun though. Growth will be delayed in shade and flower masses will be diminished.
  • Dusty Miller – Silvery leaves make it a great texture plant and great in combinations or gardens.
  • Spike – Traditional accent plant. Can handle hot or shady conditions.
  • Sanvitalia – A trailing yellow zinnia flower that can handle dry conditions.
  • Strawflower – Flowers feel dry and stiff, this plant is great for conserving moisture. Thrives in hot conditions. Great as a dried flower.
  • Statice – Thrives in hot conditions. A classic flower to drying. Cut flowers and hang to dry to enjoy for months.
  • Succulents – A waxy leaved plant made for hot and dry conditions. Similar to a cactus it stores water in its leaves and needs little water to survive