Low-maintenance plants: 10 plants that hardly ever need watering


I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real country kid. At home, I love tending my small vegetable garden and spending time out in nature. When not outdoors, I love to write. Beyond gardening and writing, however, I am particularly passionate about wildlife.

Favourite fruit: currants and raspberries
Favourite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes

No more watering cans and garden hoses. Here are ten drought-resistant and low-maintenance plants that rarely need to be watered.

Top view of succulent royal agave
Some plants lose none of their splendour even during a drought [Photo: AdrianC/ Shutterstock.com]

If you would rather relax than work in your garden during the summer, you may face a dilemma. Many plants require frequent watering, some even daily throughout the warmer months. But what if you didn’t have to choose between heavy watering cans and brown, withered plants? In fact, there are quite a few plants that do well in dry conditions and still maintain their splendour. Here, we will show you how to recognise drought-resistant plants and give you ideas of some low-maintenance plants to add to your own garden.

Characteristics of drought-resistant plants

It can sometimes be hard to tell whether a plant is drought-resistant or whether it needs regular watering. Fortunately, there are a few characteristics that are quite typical of low-maintenance plants that cope well with drought. Take a look at the leaves: if they are fleshy and thick like succulents, grey-green or covered with leaf hairs, the plants are likely to cope well in dry periods.

Lamb’s ear leaves with white hairs
Hairy, fleshy and grey-green leaves are characteristics of drought-resistant plants [Photo: ahmydaria/ Shutterstock.com]

Plants with taproots (long roots that reach deep into the soil) also have good drought tolerance because they continue to supply the plant with water even when the upper layers of soil have long since dried out. With drought-resistant plants, however, there is one thing to bear in mind: although the plants cope well in drought conditions, they do not react well to waterlogging. So, for the plants to thrive in autumn or winter, it is especially important that they are in well-draining soil.

The 10 best plants that need very little water

Don’t want to spend your whole summer lugging around the garden hose or watering can? Then these ten drought resistant, low-maintenance plants are just what you need.

1. Calliopsis

Calliopsis (Coreopsis), also known as tickseed, promises brilliant blooms even in the height of the summer heat. The colourful flowers that cover the perennial plant from June to October are part of the plant’s stunning trademark beauty. Aside from the classic yellow flowering coreopsis, there are now new hybrid varieties that come in lots of other colours which create a lovely picture in the garden. What’s more, the calliopsis is also robust and copes well with drought − the perfect plant for a colourful summer garden.

A yellow coreopsis flower
Despite hot summer days, colourful blossoms are promised by the calliopsis [Photo: RukiMedia/ Shutterstock.com]

2. Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is such an integral part of Mediterranean cuisine. No wonder, seeing as the plant originally comes from this region. In line with its origins, rosemary prefers a warm, low-humidity climate, which is why it hardly ever needs watering. Also, just as this low-maintenance, evergreen shrub is a joy to cook with, it brings a wonderful aroma to the garden. The rosemary shrub is at its most beautiful in early spring, when it displays its small purple flowers and attracts a wide variety of insects.

Flowering rosemary bushes
Rosemary is particularly beautiful when in flower [Photo: Maren Winter/ Shutterstock.com]

Tip: As a Mediterranean plant, rosemary needs very little fertiliser. That said, an annual fertilisation isn’t a bad idea. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food has an organic long-lasting effect that is ideal for this.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder
star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

3. Mullein

With a height of 1.5 to 2m, mullein (Verbascum) really makes an impression. Only the purple mullein (Verbascum phoeniceum), with a maximum height of 70cm, is considerably smaller and therefore suitable, in turn, for smaller gardens. Mullein produces beautiful flower shoots covered densely with buds that open one after the other from the bottom to the top. The delicate flowers are usually bright yellow, but there are also hybrids with alternative colours. As the mullein is native to rocky prairies and dry mountain slopes, dry summers are no problem. In other words, it usually does not need additional water. 

A close-up on yellow mullein flower stems
The flower of the mullein is beautifully delicate [Photo: Victoria Tucholka/ Shutterstock.com]

4. Sage

One variety of sage in particular, Salvia officinalis, has lots of culinary and medicinal uses, but salvias are also a real gem for any ornamental garden. Their purple, pink or white flowers make sage plants a thing of beauty. Depending on the species, sage flower spikes bloom from May to September. But it is not only its healing powers and appearance that make sage so popular − the diversity of sage varieties and their hardiness also add to its charm. There are lots of varieties to choose from − from the classic medicinal plant, common sage (Salvia officinalis), to purely ornamental plants like the annual clary sage (Salvia viridis). But they all have one thing in common: dry conditions do not tend to harm sage.

Purple salvia bushes flowering
Sage is beautiful, healthy and hardy [Photo: Nurlan Kalchinov/ Shutterstock.com]

5. Poppy

It used to be in every field, but today it is a rarity. Today, poppies (Papaver) can only be found scattered occasionally along pathways and roadsides. So, it is all the more worthwhile to be able to offer the plant a spot in your garden. And the poppy certainly deserves this spot: with its deep red flowers, it is simple, breathtakingly beautiful and a real focal point in any garden. And to top it off, poppies are very robust and can survive even long periods of drought without any help. However, the plant does tend to develop fungal diseases in overly humid conditions. Also, bear in mind there are some rules when growing certain opium varieties: you do not need to worry about cultivating common poppy (Papaver rhoeas) or oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) in your own garden, whereas, when it comes to growing opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) in the UK, it is illegal to harvest and process the flowers.

A field of common red poppies at sunset
Poppies are rarely seen in fields today [Photo: Yuriy Kulik/ Shutterstock.com]

6. Russian sage

Russian sage (Perovskia abrotanoides), also known as blue spire, is a prairie plant that is well adapted to summers with low rainfall. The silver-grey coloured shoots are not only beautiful to look at, but also protect the plant from overheating by reflecting the sunlight. This helps the plant retain water − though, a little watering is recommended during prolonged dry spells. Aside from its unusual leaf colour, between July and October Russian sage delights gardeners with an abundance of blue-violet flowers, on flower stems that can reach a height of up to 50cm.

Russian sage blooming in purple-blue
Between July and October, Russian sage delights its gardener with lots of blue-violet flowers [Photo: Nikilev/ Shutterstock.com]

7. Alyssum

Low, compact, robust − Alyssum is a beautiful and undemanding flowering plant that is perfect for low-maintenance gardens. Even squeezed into cracks in dry stone walls, the Alyssum can thrive with very little care. Its small, hairy leaves allow the Alyssum to retain water and endure periods of drought: it only needs to be watered in exceptional cases. Its flowers make it particularly eye-catching. The bright yellow flower clusters appear from the beginning of April, creating a sea of flowers, which make an amazing ground cover.

Yellow flowering alyssum growing on a rock face
Even in joints or cracks in dry stone walls, Alyssum thrives without any problems [Photo: Jaromir Klein/ Shutterstock.com]

8. Houseleeks

Droughts are no problem for the houseleek (Sempervivum) − it can grow in tough conditions where other plants would perish. This is likely the reason for its botanical name, which loosely translates to “ever-living”. In fact, the houseleek can withstand not only extreme drought and heat but also sub-zero temperatures. This makes it popular for both ground cover and green roofs. On top of its extraordinary robustness, this plant is diverse and beautiful: there are over 5000 varieties, with all sorts of rosette shapes, sizes, and colours.

Green houseleeks with red tips in a rock garden
Houseleek grows even where other plants don’t stand a chance [Photo: Supachita Krerkkaiwan/ Shutterstock.com]

9. Lamb’s ear

A furry plant? How does that protect the plant against drought? Although it may sound strange at first, the hairy leaves of lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) are its drought defence. The function of the little hairs is to ensure that as little water as possible evaporates from the leaves. This enables the plant to survive without watering even in dry periods. Aside from protecting the plant, the unique appearance of lamb’s ear leaves also make them popular in gardens.

Lamb’s ear leaves covered in white hairs
The hairs on the leaves ensure that as little water as possible is lost though evaporation [Photo: ahmydaria/ Shutterstock.com]

10. Stonecrop

Stonecrop (Sedum) is an exceptionally drought resistant plant. Its fleshy, round leaves not only look decorative, but they are also a reservoir that supplies the plant with water during dry periods. So, it’s no wonder that stonecrop can survive long dry periods without wilting. Low-growing stonecrops are ideal as ground cover, while taller-growing species, such as orpine (Sedum telephium), can be wonderfully integrated into perennial garden beds. The stonecrop succulent forms countless little flowers that are a beautiful addition to any garden. Even though the plant is low-maintenance, it is best to work some fertiliser − like our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food − into the soil when planting. This will encourage healthy root systems and abundant growth.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder
star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

A red admiral butterfly on pink stonecrop flower
Larger sedum species are real butterfly magnets [Photo: Pefkos/ Shutterstock.com]
Subscribe to the Plantura newsletter