While many plants thrive in rich, loamy soil, some actually prefer something a little more barren, like hot, rocky soil. The American Southwest spans four different deserts: the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sonoran Desert, and each one is brimming with life from plants that grow well in hot and rocky soils. Deserts and hot, dry regions not just in the U.S., but worldwide, offer a range of plants that grow successfully in such soil.
Hot, rocky soil has two of the things cacti need most, good soil drainage and heat. Desert cacti grow naturally all over North American deserts and along the coast of California. Some are particularly suited to wetter environments, like the saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert, while the barrel cactus grows in higher and drier deserts, like the Mojave Desert.
Like cacti, succulents are particularly well suited to hot and rocky soil. They retain moisture in their foliage to protect themselves from drought and are naturally suited to desert climates. Yucca, agave and aloe are all succulents, and they have many different varieties that will grow well in hot and rocky soil. Aloe vera, foxtail agave and banana yucca are all lovely plants for such a garden.
If you live in an area with cold, wet winters, but have hot rocky soil, Mediterranean plants are a good bet for your garden. Since the shores around the Mediterranean Sea are dry and rocky plants from that region thrive in rocky hot soil, such as olive trees, lavender and rosemary.
Many trees grow in desert conditions and will grow well in hot and rocky soil, such as the mesquite and the date palm, both of which thrive throughout Nevada and Arizona. If you want something a little more exotic, try a truly global tree like the acacia, varieties of which grow in Australia and Israel.