Drought Tolerant Annual Plants

Annual plants grow, bloom and die within their growing season. As drought-tolerant annuals, they have the ability to survive climates and growing environments that are limited in moisture. Hardy, they flourish and thrive despite limited amounts of moisture and so make ideal plants to grow in hot, arid climates. Annual flowers are also ideal tucked into perennial gardens and containers to help add color to the garden. They are also perfect plants to change out each season for a fresh look to the garden.


Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) is an annual flower that is both drought- and deer-tolerant, creating a versatile annual variety. It reaches a maximum height of 3 feet tall and a spread of 1 to 3 feet wide. The 2-inch-wide flowers on zinnia range from semi-double to double or single and attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Zinnia grows in a wide range of colors including, pink, yellow, purple, red and orange for a bright burst of color to the landscape. They have a vigorous growth rate to have the garden in color in a short period of time. The tall, erect stems and bushy foliage make up the clumping growth habit that zinnia are known for. Zinnia grows best in full sun and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. To promote a long flowering season, deadhead the spent blooms.

Blanket Flower

Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) is a bushy summer- to fall-blooming annual that has a high drought tolerance. They grow 18 to 24 inches long and 10 to 12 inches wide and have a clumping growth habit and moderate growth rate. The daisy-like blooms are red, orange and yellow to produce a striking display that attracts butterflies to the garden. Blanket flowers make ideal fresh-cut flowers because of the straight stems and, when consistently deadheaded, keep the garden in bloom for a long period of time. They grow best in full sun and well-drained, fertile soil.


Verbena (Verbena speciosa 'Imagination') produces clusters of five-petaled, purple, rounded 3-inch-wide flowers that bloom from spring until frost. Verbena has a spreading growth habit and fast growth rate. It reaches up to 3 feet tall and has a spread of 3 to 6 feet wide, ideal to grow as a ground cover or tucked into containers to spill over the pot. The deep-green dissected foliage on verbena is oblong and grows up to 4 inches long. Verbena is both frost- and drought-tolerant, producing a hardy annual. They grow best in full sun and well-drained, fertile soil.

Keywords: drought-tolerant annuals, zinnia, blanket flower, verbena

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.