For residents who want to swap out their thirstier plants during drought conditions, there are lots of options beyond cacti. Here are some options for dry landscapes.
Salvia greggii is one of the most reliable and easy-to-grow drought-tolerant perennials. There are many varieties of the species available and bloom colors range from pure white to pink, to coral, to deep red. As plants become semi-woody, they are often used as small shrubs in warm climates. Plants can grow approximately 3 feet tall and spread to 5 feet wide. Autumn sage begins blooming in early spring and continues until a hard frost. There are also many S. greggii hybrids with S. microphylla and other species, which are referred to as “Salvia greggii types.” Plant in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Hardiness zone varies by varieties and typically ranges from Zone 5-10.
As a group, Sedums can be relied upon to be sturdy performers in hot and dry landscapes. These hardy succulents are available in assorted sizes, shapes and foliage colors. ‘Blue Spruce’ is a variety particularly good for use as a low-maintenance groundcover along sidewalks, driveways, retaining walls and containers. This variety offers up a unique silvery-blue foliage color. Plants require a full sun location with well-draining soil. Once established, plants require little supplemental water and are highly tolerant of reflected heat. There are sedum varieties available for just about every hardiness zone.
Mexican Feather Grass
Nassella tenuissima, commonly referred to as Mexican feather grass, is a species of grass native in the U.S. only to West Texas and New Mexico. Unlike many other ornamental grasses, this species is compact in size, growing to only 30 inches tall in bloom, in clumps 1 to 2 feet wide. Foliage is threadlike and adds a soft texture to the landscape. The spring and summer inflorescence have a feathery appearance. Plants require a sunny location and well-draining soil, and do not tolerate any excess soil moisture. They are also excellent in containers and cold hardy to USDA Zone 6.