Drought Tolerant Plants in Florida

Florida is a very hot tropical environment to try to maintain a garden, hitting between 8 and 11 on the USDA hardiness zone map. Many plants will not be able to take the humidity or harshness of the heat of the Florida summer. Getting plants that are drought tolerant will help in the periods of time when rain is fleeting and there is a chance of the soil drying out.

Purple Heart

Purple heart is also known as purple queen or purple-heart tradescantia, and known botanically as Tradescantia pallida. It is an easy-to-grow, drought-tolerant perennial. Leaves are 3 to 5 inches long with pale pink flowers that are under an inch wide. Grow this one in rich sandy soil in full sun or it will tolerate partial shade as well. Propagate via cuttings and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 11.

Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palm is also known as nolina or bottle palm and known botanically as Beaucarnea recurvata. It is an evergreen that is drought tolerant. Leaves are strap-like and 6 feet long. The entire plant can get 30 feet tall. Flowers are white and not easily seen. Grow this one in full sun allowing soil to dry between the watering. Propagate via suckers and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 12.

Mountain Marigold

Mountain marigold is also known as the Copper Canyon daisy and known botanically as Tagetes lemmonii. It is a fragrant perennial that is drought tolerant and attractive to butterflies. Leaves are 2 to 6 inches long and lacy with flowers 2 inches wide and yellow. The entire plant is fragrant and gets 4 feet tall. Grow this in full sun but tolerates light shade. Propagate via clump division, seed, or cuttings and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 11.


Scaevola is also known as fairy fanflower and known botanically as Scaevola aemula. It is an evergreen drought tolerant perennial that is fast growing. Leaves are oblong and 2 inches long with 1-inch-wide flowers in blue, white, or lilac. Flowers bloom in the spring and the summer seasons. The plant will get 20 inches high and 3 feet wide. Grow in full sun or light shade. Propagate via tip cuttings or seeds and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.

Magagascar Periwinkle

Madagascar periwinkle is also known as rose periwinkle and is botanically known as Catharanthus roseus. It is a fast-growing perennial that is drought tolerant. It gets 2 to 3 feet high and the same in width. Leaves are glossy and 2 to 3 inches long with tubular flowers in colors pink, red, purple and white. Grow this one in poor well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Propagate via seed or cuttings and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.

Keywords: Florida, drought tolerant, drought tolerant plants in Florida

About this Author

Tina Samuels has been a full-time freelance writer for more than 10 years, concentrating on health and gardening topics, and a writer for 20 years. She has written for "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living," and "Mature Years," as well as online content. She has one book, “A Georgia Native Plant Guide,” offered through Mercer University; others are in development.