The drought tolerant plants for Florida are native to desert environments and have learned to adapt to a low water situation over the centuries of growing in the wild. They can also have special physical features like the ability of the leaves and stems to store water for times of low rainfall. The plants come in all types, sizes and colors and there are specific plants for every part of Florida.
Orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) is an annual plant that grows from one to seven feet tall and produces yellow or orange bowl-shaped flowers that grow to two to three inches in diameter. It is a native of the deserts in Mexico and drought resistant, but in times of drought the growth will be stunted. The plant needs full sun and likes sandy soils, but can take other types as well. Orange cosmos is hardy in all of the zones in Florida and is a favorite of butterflies.
Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) is also known as purple queen. It is an evergreen ground cover that is a native of Mexico. The plant produces leaves that grow from three to five inches long and one inch wide, that are purple on top and violet on the bottom and pale orchid--pink flowers that measure less than an inch. The flowers will bloom as long as the weather is warm, but they will only be open in the morning. The stems hold water, helping the plant live through a drought, although it prefers consistent moisture.
Purple heart prefers sandy soil, but can take rocky soils as well and does its best in full sun, but can take a small amount of shade. It can be used under palm trees, in rock garden to give a tropical effect. The plant is hardy in all the zones in Florida.
Coral plant (Jatropha multifida) is also known as the physic nut and Guatemala rhubarb. It is a shrub or small tree that grows from six to 20 feet tall. The plant produces leaves that are dark green on top and white below and grow up to 12 inches wide and coral colored flowers that grow in clusters on long stalks. The coral plant blooms all year long and the more heat, the more it will bloom. It is a native of Mexico, Central America and Brazil, likes full sun to partial shade and a sandy well-drained soil. The plant is resistant to drought once it is established and can only be grown in zone 10 in Florida.