The succulent family of plants are those plants that have good water storage for desert and drought areas. Their thick and fleshy leaves or stalks will serve as water storage to help them survive. The cactus and many sedums are typical succulents, as well as aloe and spurge.
Portulaca grandiflora, the moss rose from the purslane family, is drought-tolerant and trailing. This gets 6 inches tall and will be 12 inches wide. Stems are reddish with thick green leaves. Flowers are an inch wide and yellow, white, orange, red and pink. The blooms look like a rose. Grow a moss rose in poor soil with full sun. It does well in sandy soil or gravelly soil. Propagate via seed; it can also self-sow.
Sedum spectabile, the showy sedum from the orpine family, is a perennial succulent that attracts butterflies. This can get 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Leaves are bluish green, 3 feet long, and egg-shaped. Stems are pinkish green. Flowers are under an inch wide and star shaped in clusters. Grow a showy sedum in poor well drained soils in full sun; it is also tolerant of light shade. Propagate with leaf cuttings, root division, or by stem cuttings.
Aloe vera, the burn plant or medicinal aloe from the lily family, is a perennial evergreen that is drought tolerant. It has grayish green leaves up to 18 inches long. There are small offset rosettes, as well as yellow flowers in the winter/spring season on stalks. Grow the plant in well-drained soils--either sandy or gravelly. Light should be full sun or partial shade. Propagate via offsets.
Crown of Thorns
Euphorbia milii, called the crown of thorns--from the spurge family--is a drought tolerant shrub. It will get 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Leathery leaves are green and fleshy. Black thorns cover the plant. Grow crown of thorns in poor, well-drained soils in full sun. It can grow in partial shade as well. Propagate via spring/summer cuttings.
Hardy Prickly Pear
Opuntia humifusa, the hardy prickly pear from the cactus family, is an evergreen, drought-tolerant perennial. Pads will be flat and 2 to 6 inches. Flowers are yellow, 3 to 4 inches wide, and come in spring and summer. Fruits are edible, egg-shaped, and reddish-green. Grow hardy prickly pear in dry, sandy soil with full sun conditions. Propagate via pad rooting and by seeds.