Perennial Drought-Tolerant Ground Covers

7 Options for Dry Soil

Candytuft flowers
Chris Waits / Flickr / CC By 2.0

Why is it important to know about perennial drought-tolerant ground covers? Well, often your turfgrass of choice will not grow very well in dry soil. Wouldn't it be nice if the same could be said of most types of weeds? Regrettably, such is not the case.

Yes, we are all too well aware that weeds will quickly invade a bare patch and take it over. So if you have ruled out turfgrass as an option or simply wish to grow perennials in that location because they are more attractive or more interesting than grass, you may get an idea for a drought-tolerant ground cover that fits the bill by reading the information below. Be sure to follow the links provided to learn more about how to grow the particular perennials suggested.

  • 01 of 07

    Angelina Sedum

    A drought-resistant ground cover, Angelina sedum has chartreuse-colored needle-like leaves.
    Angelina sedum is a short plant grown for its foliage color. David Beaulieu

    Angelina sedum or "stonecrop" is a flowering ground cover. In this case, however, the blossoms take a backseat to the foliage. Gardeners value Angelina as a low-growing plant with chartreuse foliage. As a bonus, this perennial drought-tolerant ground cover spreads quickly, effectively filling in your problem area, with a little help from you (in the form of laying down mulch, etc.). Like many succulents, it will root where its leaves come into contact with the soil, permitting it to multiply.

    As for all of the entries on this list, to access further information about growing Angelina sedum, just click the link to the right of the photo.

  • 02 of 07

    Yellow Alyssum

    Yellow alyssum ground cover growing with phlox.
    Yellow alyssum is a favorite ground cover of spring, with its bright, golden blossoms. David Beaulieu

    You are probably familiar with sweet alyssum, which is treated as an annual plant in the North. It is very popular in the U.S. as the white element in July 4th plantings, where a red-white-and-blue color scheme is called for. But in this entry, we are talking about a different kind of alyssum.

    Yellow alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis) is a hardy perennial. Like Angelina sedum, it sports attractive leaves -- in this case, leaves of a blue-gray or gray-green color. But unlike Angelina, Aurinia saxatilis is grown more for the display created by its flowers. It looks especially nice tumbling over stone walls.​

  • 03 of 07

    Ice Plant

    Ice plant in bloom, with purple flowers and succulent leaves.
    Ice plant is a flowering ground cover, with beautiful purple blooms. David Beaulieu

    Pictured here is purple ice plant (Delosperma cooperi). Like Angelina sedum (see above), this plant has succulent leaves and is suitable for xeriscaping.

    Not only is this a drought-tolerant ground cover, but it positively does not like for its roots to be sitting in moisture. For that reason, ice plant can be challenging for someone experimenting with it for the first time. So unlike the other plants listed here, one would not classify this plant as easy to grow.

    Still, its flowers are gorgeous, so why not give it a try? Its unusual foliage (the look of which gives it its common plant name) is moderately attractive, as well.

  • 04 of 07

    Candytuft

    Candytuft flower
    Muecke / Pixabay / CC By 0

    Candytuft may be the favorite perennial, hands down, among those who love intensely white flowers. Unlike the other plants featured here, though, it does not bear attractive leaves. No, it is all about the flowers with candytuft. But oh, what flowers! Not only are they breathtaking when massed together, but each individual bloom will merit close study if you enjoy intricate patterns.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Vinca Minor

    Vinca Manor
    Hans / Pixabay / CC By 0

    With Vinca minor, we come to a plant that is somewhat problematic. That is because this viny plant, which features glossy leaves and blue flowers, and which is often grown in shade-covered areas, has made many a list of invasive plants for North America.

    The fact that some drought-tolerant ground covers (more of which follow below) are at least mildly invasive should not surprise us very much. After all, plants such as Vinca minor and Japanese pachysandra need to be tough to survive in dry soils. And they do not turn that toughness on and off to please us. A tough plant will, in many cases, out-compete its competition for available resources, including water. Another example that is tempting to plant but definitely invasive is lily-of-the-valley, famous for its great-smelling blooms that resemble little bells.

    You will have to make up your own mind as to whether you wish to grow plants such as Vinca minor. This article is neither endorsing nor condemning the plant; rather, it is simply giving you information you need to know to make an informed decision.

  • 06 of 07

    Ajuga or "Bugleweed"

    Ajuga ground cover shown with its blue flowers and dark foliage.
    Ajuga is a ground cover that presents good color -- and a big problem. David Beaulieu

    Bugleweed (Ajuga) is another invasive plant. It is more difficult to control than Vinca minor, so this article is certainly not urging you to grow it. You likely will grow tired of pulling it out of places where it does not belong in your landscaping, frankly.

    Nonetheless, some folks might consider growing this drought-tolerant ground cover under certain conditions. Its proponents point to its spiky flowers and (in the case of some cultivars) attractive leaves as selling points, although anyone who has had to battle this aggressive plant for years would be unlikely to be among those "sold" on bugleweed.

  • 07 of 07

    Chinese Lantern Plants

    Chinese lantern plants bear a pod (image) that's a striking orange.
    Chinese lantern plants bear a namesake pod that is quite striking. David Beaulieu

    Chinese lantern is another invasive. But it is included here because so many folks are interested in this novelty. As with other aggressive plants, if you feel you truly must grow it, there are ways to contain it. Among other matters, ways of containing Chinese lanterns are discussed in this article.

    Return to Drought-Resistant Plants index.