Plants That Are Good in Sunny, Dry Places

Updated June 18, 2018

Plants tolerant to sunny and dry environments are suitable in xeriscapes, low-maintenance landscapes or areas where water is minimal. Plants that tolerate warm, drought-like conditions are vast and varied. When adding any plant into the landscape, consider its potential size and growth habit before selecting a permanent location.

Palm Trees

Numerous selections of palm trees perform well in sunny locations with dry conditions. They also work well as landscape specimens. Coconut palms grow up to 80 feet tall and are sun-, salt- and drought-tolerant. Their trunks are smooth, and their 17-feet-long fronds are thorn-free and pinnately compound. In addition, all cultivars produce edible fruits, such as dates. Coconut palms prefer frost-free climates, and the Canary Island date palm grows up to 60 feet tall and is a large, stately tree suitable as a specimen. Barbed fronds grow up to 18 feet long and have an arching habit.

Other Trees

There are tree species that prefer a warm, sunny and drought-like environment and work well for shade or used as landscape specimens. The pencil tree grows up to 30 feet tall and spreads up to 10 feet. Green, pencil-like, succulent branches fill the tree, and when broken, the branches exude a white, milky sap. It prefers and grows best located in full sun where conditions are dry. The black locust is a large, deciduous tree reaching up to 80 feet tall. The bark is greyish to brown, and the foliage is oval and feather-like. White, fragrant, pealike blooms fill the tree in springtime, and wildlife eats the seeds.


Gardeners with sunny, dry landscapes can utilise shrubs in the same fashion they would in moister environments. Utilise the shrubs for privacy, borders or hedges. The century plant is a large, succulent shrub that grows up to 6 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. Thick, spiny, 6-feet leaves emerge from the plant's central rosette. Approximately 10 years after planting, a 20- to 40-foot flower stalk blooms with yellowish-green flowers. The Japanese barberry is deciduous, compact and averages 3 feet tall and wide. The branches are spiny, and the green foliage changes from red, purple and orange in fall. Clusters of red berries follow the yellow blooms. The century plant and the Japanese barberry plant both do not perform well in wet locations.

Flowering Evergreens

A variety of flowering evergreens are tolerant to growing in sunny, dry locations. With the plant's constant display of foliage and seasonal flowers, the area will never lack colour. Natal plum not only works well as a salt- and drought-tolerant shrub, it also produces edible fruits. It grows up to 20 feet tall, with green, oval foliage covering thorny branches. Fragrant flowers that are white and starlike bloom all year. The red fruits are plumlike and grow up to 2 inches in diameter. Southern magnolia works well as a shade tree, growing as tall as 90 feet. Its canopy is dense and spreading, with leathery leaves. During springtime and summer, 12-inch flowers bloom in creamy white and are fragrant.

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About the Author

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.