Drought tolerant plants are defined as those that can withstand a couple of months with out rainfall and without additional watering. Those drought tolerant plants for South Carolina also will need to be able to live in USDA hardiness zones 7 or 8. South Carolina plants that are drought tolerant don't have to look like a cactus to be that hardy, and they can be flowering and ornamental in the landscape.
Butterfly weed, also known to some gardeners as the pleurisy root or butterfly milkweed, is botanically known as Asclepias tuberosa and from the milkweed family. It is easy to grow, perennial, drought tolerant and a butterfly attractor. It will get 2 feet tall with red and orange flowers in clusters with green pods. Grow this plant in full sun in any soil. It will tolerate partial shade. Propagate via tuber division or by seed planting and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 4 to 10.
Blanket Flower, also known to some gardeners as the firewheel or Indian blanket, is botanically known as Gaillardia pulchella and from the aster/daisy family. It is an easy-to-grow, short-lived perennial that is drought tolerant and a butterfly attractor. It will grow to 1 foot wide and 2 feet tall in mound form and has summer flowers 2 to 3 inches wide in yellow, orange, red or coppery scarlet colors. Grow this plant in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Propagate via cuttings of root, division and seed. It is for USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 10.
Sweetshrub, also known to some gardeners as the strawberry shrub or Carolina allspice, is botanically known as Calycanthus floridus and is from the calycanthus family. It is fragrant, easy to grow, deciduous and drought tolerant. It will get 8 feet tall in a mound with spring flowers 1 to 2 inches wide in red or brown colors. It's leaves are deep green on top and light green underneath, fuzzy and 4 inches long. The leaves turn golden yellow in the fall. Grow this plant in moist soil in medium shade to bright sun conditions. Propagate via division, layering or by seed and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9.
Southern bayberry, also known to some gardeners as wax myrtle or southern wax myrtle, is botanically known as Myrica cerifera and from the wax myrtle family. It is evergreen, fast growing, drought tolerant and attractive to songbirds. It will get to a maximum of 25 feet tall with grayish-green or yellow-green leaves that are 1 to 5 inches long and winter flowers that are up to 1 inch long. Grow this plant in full sun to partial shade in any soil. Propagate via cuttings or transplants and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 7 to 10.