5 Flowering Drought-Tolerant Ground Cover Plants

Replace your thirsty ground covers with these flowering, drought-tolerant plants that are sure to add beauty to your garden while using less water.

With many areas in the United States experiencing drought conditions, replacing thirsty plants with those that need less water is not only becoming more popular—in many cases, it is a necessity with many city governments instituting water restrictions.

If the idea of drought tolerant plants bring to mind a garden filled with boring plants or prickly cacti, then you are in for a pleasant surprise.  Drought tolerant plants can be beautiful! Today, I’ll show you some lovely, flowering ground covers that you’ll be rushing out to add to your garden.

Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata)
Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Moss Phlox

For a carpet of beautiful flowers, moss phlox is hard to beat. Small needly-shaped leaves are covered in masses of flowers ranging from white, pink and purple throughout the spring. This flowering beauty isn’t fussy and can grow in acidic to alkaline soil and thrives in sandy, loam and clay soils. Moss phlox has one important requirement which is a spot in the garden that receives full sun.

Ground covers can be quite versatile in the garden and moss phlox is no exception. It can grow in planting zones 2 to 9 and is often used in containers, rock gardens or allowed to spill over a raised bed. Did I mention that the flowers are fragrant too? Check out the top 10 colorful ground cover plants.

Angelita Daisy/Perky Sue (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hyemonxys acaulis)
Angelita Daisy/Perky Sue (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hyemonxys acaulis)

Angelita Daisy

Adding yellow flowering plants is a great way to add a spot of sunshine to the garden, even on a cloudy day. The flowers of angelita daisy look like miniature suns with their yellow centers and rays. This clumping ground cover has dark green leaves that resemble grass. The flowers bloom from spring into early fall in zones 5 through 7 gardens. If you live in zone 8 or higher, this drought tolerant ground cover blooms all year long, with the heaviest blooms occurring in spring.

Angelita daisy isn’t fussy and can grow in nutrient poor soils, but does appreciate well-drained soil. Plant in groups of 3 to 5 for greatest effect in full sun or light shade along pathways, around the base of your mailbox or in containers. Check out 5 attractive drought-tolerant shrubs for your garden.

Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Snow in Summer

The silvery gray foliage of snow in summer provides great color contrast when used near plants with darker green leaves. White flowers appear in late spring on into early summer. This drought tolerant perennial is a favorite in gardeners who live in the cooler zones of 3 to 7. This attractive ground cover does best in full sun, but can handle some light shade.

Snow in summer can be used in a rain garden, rock garden or even planted on slopes. Even when not in flower, the silvery foliage will continue to add beauty to your garden. This ground cover will spread rapidly, so be sure to plant at least 2 feet apart to allow them room to grow. Did you know you can use strawberries as a ground cover?

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita

The arrival of spring transforms the dark green, needlelike foliage of damiantia into golden yellow. Flowering occurs sporadically throughout the summer and into fall. Like many drought tolerant ground covers, damianita is not fussy and grows in poor soils without the need for supplemental fertilizer.

Plant along driveways, next to boulders, on slopes or nearby swimming pools where its sunny color can be enjoyed. This Southwestern native does need well-drained soil and full sun to grow in zone 7 to 10 gardens.

Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Trailing Lantana

Attractive green foliage covered in pretty flowers from spring through fall make trailing lantana a must have for many gardens. Although this ground cover can only be grown outdoors year round in zone 9 gardens and above, it is a very popular plant in cooler climates as well where it is treated as an annual.  Adapted to acidic to alkaline soils, trailing lantana does best in well-drained soil in full sun to light shade.

In frost free climates, the flowers appear all year long. In colder climates, it will begin flowering in spring until the first frost. Suitable for containers, hanging baskets, rock gardens or as a bedding plant—butterflies will be sure to seek out the flowers of trailing lantana. Unlike other forms of lantana, trailing lantana does not self seed and therefore is not invasive in tropical climates. It’s important to note that all parts of lantana are poisonous.

As you can see, drought tolerant plants aren’t fussy and can add beauty to your landscape while helping you save water by using them to replace thirsty plants. Need more choices for drought tolerant plants for your garden? Check out our list of 40 drought resistant flowers and plants.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.