Drought-tolerant shrubs are low-maintenance plants that can live through extended dry periods and are used in xeriscaping. People who don't have a sprinkler or the time to water, or those who live in areas difficult to irrigate, often choose these types of plants for their garden. They require little, if any, watering once they've become established. Drought-tolerant evergreens will keep a touch of color in your garden even during the winter.
Compact Coral Barberry
Growing 6 to 12 inches tall and wide, the thorny compact coral barberry bush has small leaves and produces bright yellow-orange flowers in spring and summer. These flowers give way to blue-black berries in the fall. Compact coral barberry grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9 and tolerates most soil types.
"Athens Blue Spires" Rosemary
"Athens Blue Spires" rosemary is an evergreen perennial herb with very fragrant grey-green, needle-like leaves used in cooking. Tiny blue flowers form in late winter through early spring. This rosemary variety grows 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. Best suited for USDA zones 7 through 10, the "Athens Blue Spires" rosemary prefers soil with a neutral to alkaline pH.
The leatherleaf mahonia (also called Beale's Barberry), a thick, stiff shrub with green-blue leaves, produces clusters of small golden yellow flowers in spring and blue berries in the fall. It grows 3 to 10 feet high and wide in USDA zones 6 through 9. Plant this mahonia in neutral to mildly acidic soil.
Carissa Holly's glossy, pointy, dark-green leaves form a dense, rounded mound up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. When properly spaced among other plants, the cold hardy Carissa holly never needs pruning. Growing best in USDA zones 6 through 9, this shrub thrives in slightly acidic soil.
This compact shrub contains dark, glossy green leaves and grows up to 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide. Its purple flowers bloom in summer and last a long time. Wall germander flourishes in USDA zones 5 through 9 and prefers a sheltered site. It may suffer dieback during harsh winters. Plant it in soil a with neutral to alkaline pH.
Small flowers grow on Foster's holly in spring and produce plentiful, bright-red ornamental berries in fall and winter. Dark, olive-green leaves complete the look of the foster holly, which is best suited for USDA zones 6 through 9. It grows up to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Foster's holly needs consistently moist and acidic soil. It can also come in the form of a small tree.
Soapweed is a yucca type plant with spiky, sharp-edged leaves surrounding a 3- to 4-foot tall flower stalk. Pale green, fragrant flowers bloom in the summer. Soapweed grows 1 to 3 feet tall and wide in neutral or alkaline sandy soil. The leaves are used in basket-making, while the roots can be used for making soap. Soapweed will grow in USDA zones 4 through 10.
Grey Owl Juniper
This low-lying, spreading shrub produces blue-gray and feathery foliage and horizontal branches that droop at the end. Planted in neutral or slightly acidic sandy soil, Grey Owl juniper grows 2 to 3 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Grey Owl juniper thrives in full sun, but needs partial shade in desert areas. Grey Owl juniper grows in USDA zones 2 through 9.
Loropetalum "Plum Delight"
The "Plum Delight" variety of loropetalum has long, twiggy branches that resemble witch hazel in spring and fall (and sporadically during the summer) and striking plum-purple leaves. This shrub, which grows in USDA zones 7 through 9, grows 5 to 6 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide. It requires moist, sandy, acidic loam with some clay.
Variegated privet produces white fragrant flowers in spring surrounded by light yellow and green foliage. This fast-growing shrub shoots up to 10 feet high and wide in USDA zones 6 through 9. It needs slightly acidic, well-drained soil, and it should be watered every week.