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Drought Tolerant Xeriscape Plants For Colorado

For dry areas of the country, xeriscaping is the best option for gardening. When planning your new xeriscaping project, consider what plants you can use to improve your overall garden space. Discover below what they are and some plants you can use for a xeric garden.

Plant Cost
Apache Plume $15.00
Panchito Manzanita $25.50
Lavender $8.75
Hyssop $9.20
Blue Spruce $30.00
Pork and Beans $12.40
Dwarf Lilyturf $6.90
Lace Aloe $11.25
Santa Barbara Daisy $7.80
Myrtle Spurge $14.60
Purple Poppy-Mallow $10.10
Sonoma Sage $16.50
Japanese Sacred Lily $22.00
Narrow Leaved Sundrops $8.95
Spanish Dagger $19.75
California Tree Poppy $13.25
Large Coneflower $9.50

Why Do People Choose Drought Tolerant Plants

There are tons of benefits to choosing drought tolerant plants in your xeriscaping efforts in Colorado:

– Less water is needed to sustain their growth, cutting down on consumption.
– Since less water is needed to sustain plant life, less money is spent on irrigation.
– Plants used in xeriscaping designs that are drought tolerant are better able to withstand the effects of heat waves and other forms of extreme weather.
– The time and effort needed to care for these plants is reduced because they need less water. The deep root systems of many drought-tolerant xeriscape plants aerate and increase the soil’s capacity to hold moisture, two factors that contribute to the plants’ overall health.
– Xeriscaping, which emphasizes the use of native plants, has been shown to boost biodiversity and sustain ecosystems.
– The gorgeous flowers and foliage of many drought-resistant xeriscape plants make them a desirable addition to any garden.

Paver walkway with draught-tolerant plants made by one of the best xeriscaping companies in Denver, CO

17 Best Drought Tolerant Plants For Colorado

If you’re convinced to choose drought tolerant plants in xeriscaping, here are the 17 of the best options that can thrive in almost any climate (exceptions included).

“Apache Plume” - Fallugia Paradoxa

Because of its remarkable resistance to drought, Apache Plume is an excellent choice for xeriscaping projects. Its natural habitats are the arid parts of the southwestern United States, and it has a high tolerance for high temperatures and arid conditions.

“Panchito Manzanita” - Arctostaphylos Coloradoensis

The Panchito Manzanita tree is extremely tolerant of drought and may flourish even in extremely hot and dry conditions. It is indigenous to the state of California as well as other locations with Mediterranean climates, where it has developed to be able to survive dry spells. It is a shrub that develops slowly and does not require regular attention in the form of watering, trimming, or fertilizing.

“Lavender” - Lavandula

The drought resistance of lavender is exceptional, and it can thrive with very little to no additional irrigation at all. Its natural habitat is in the Mediterranean region, where the summers are typically hot and dry and the winters are typically moderate and wet.

There are many different xeriscape designs that can make use of lavender, ranging from more formal garden beds to more naturalistic wildflower meadows. It is also a well-liked option for gardening in containers and can be combined with other species that are able to thrive in dry conditions when utilized in mixed plantings.

large bushes with purple flowers on lawn

“Hyssop” - Hyssopus Officinalis

The hyssop’s natural habitat is the Mediterranean region, which has summers that are hot and dry and winters that are moderate and rainy. Hyssop is characterized by its distinctive and appealing physical appearance, which consists of thin, erect stems and clusters of small, fragrant blooms that range in color from blue to pink to white.

“Blue Spruce” - Picea Pungens

After it has become established, blue spruce takes very little care and attention. It does not need to be pruned or fertilized, and it is resistant to a good deal of disease and insect infestation. The needles of a blue spruce tree are a stunning silvery-blue color and are arranged in a conical pattern, giving the tree a remarkable appearance.

“Pork and Beans” - Sebum Rubrotinctum

The succulent sedum rubrotinctum typically grows to a height of less than a foot. Because of the shape of its leaves, this plant is commonly called “pork and beans”. The leaves grow at the ends of very sturdy stems. The yellow star-shaped flowers bloom in the spring.

“Dwarf Lilyturf” - Ophiopogon Japonicus

One of the tiniest plants is the dwarf lilyturf, sometimes known as the fountain plant. This little grass grows to a height of approximately 4 inches, making it ideal for use as a ground cover. The soil should be moist when first planted, but it can handle a little less moisture once established.

“Lace Aloe” - Aloe Aristata

This plant, sometimes referred to by the name Aristaloe aristata, is not an actual aloe. Similar species are more distantly related to it. However, the 6 to 8-inch diameter circles of sawtoothed spikes pack a stunningly spherical punch. It’s a sight when planted in a garden, especially when its orange blossoms open.

“Santa Barbara Daisy” - Erigeron Karvinskianus

If you love daisy like flowers and want to find a drought tolerant version, there is an actual daisy that can withstand little watering. The Santa Barbara daisy is easily recognizable by its trailing foliage and everlasting blossoms. Extreme dryness doesn’t bother this native of Mexico. Just a few drops of water will cause a surge of new growth.

“Myrtle Spurge” - Euphorbia Myrsinites

It’s worth looking into this perennial with evergreen foliage. Its thick, woody stems bear succulent-like leaves arranged in a compact rosette 4 to 8 inches above the ground. Myrtle spurge has blue green foliage and bright yellow bracts that appear in the spring.

“Purple Poppy-Mallow” - Callirhoe Involucrata

The purple poppy mallow is native to the flatlands and plains of Missouri. This herbaceous perennial grows between 6 and 12 inches tall and has cup-shaped magenta flowers. It can withstand extended periods of drought thanks to its strong roots.
A Poppy Plant In Colorado

“Sonoma Sage” - Salvia Sonomensis

Among the many options available for xeriscape gardening, Sonoma sage is a favorite of many, especially when it’s blooming with its purple-blue flower spikes. When exposed to direct sunlight, the 12 to 14-inch stems and silvery green leaves emit a subtle fragrance. It thrives in soil amendments with perlite.

“Japanese Sacred Lily” - Rohdea Japonica

The fibrous roots of the Japanese sacred lily make it an unusually hardy plant. The long, emerald-green leaves act as rain deflectors, bringing water to the cluster’s heart. Spikes of flowers open to reveal a cluster of yellow flowers, which ripen into inedible red berries. The typical height of this plant is 18 inches.

“Narrow-Leaved Sundrops” - Oenothera Fruticosa

Herbaceous perennials, or “annuals,” sundrops are indigenous to eastern North America. Bunches of yellow flowers with four petals appear in late spring. They great in both natural and cottage gardens.

“Spanish Dagger” - Yucca Aloifolia

The Spanish dagger is a tall plant, reaching heights of 12 to 15 feet. Sharply serrated dark green leaf spikes climb the tree’s trunk, each measuring two feet long. It produces clusters of flowers up to 2 feet in length, and those blooms are said to be edible. The fruit that develops after the flowers have died can attract birds.

“California Tree Poppy” - Romneya Coulteri

The tree poppy originated in the Golden State. It can reach heights of nearly eight feet and spread rapidly via underground rhizomes. Word on the street has it that they’ll burrow under your home and emerge on the other side. The huge, white flowers these plants bear are airy and open. The trees shed their leaves over the summer and fall months, only to refoliate the following year.

“Large Coneflower” - Rudbeckia Maxima

The large coneflower has a flower stalk that can grow seven feet tall and paddle-shaped leaves that can grow 24 inches long. A dark brown cone centers the massive yellow flowers of the giant coneflower. It can serve as the showpiece of your xeriscape landscape.

You might also want to read about The Best Trees to Plant in Colorado for Optimal Growth

What Are the Seven Principles of Xeriscaping In Colorado?

The principles of landscape design include the elements of unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis, and sequence as they apply to line, form, texture, and color. These elements are interconnected.

Low-Water Using Plants

They can be chosen and located to provide shade to your home in the summer months and allow the winter sun in. Use groundcovers and wildflowers to add color and texture in your landscape, and use shrubs for accent or as a screen for privacy. Take the time to look at good xeriscape examples in your area.
small plant being watered

Limit Grass Areas

Grass uses more water than anything else in the garden and requires more maintenance, so use it only where it provides functional benefits. If you want the grass to look at, perhaps a good ground cover could better provide you with that mat of green.

Use grass in high-use areas, but not on slopes or hard-to-irrigate and maintain areas. A good alternative for low-use areas is seeded wildflowers or native grasses, or other drought-tolerant ground covers.

Landscaper Installing Lawn Birds Eye View Photo

Water Harvesting Techniques

Incorporate water-harvesting techniques into your landscape design. This means channeling rain runoff to planted areas or a container for later use. A few simple methods that direct runoff to where it is needed include sloping sidewalks and terraces, collecting roof water, contouring lawns or other sloped areas, and using rock “river” channels.

Constructing earth mounds or berms at the edge of your property can also hold water on your site. Locate plants where they can take advantage of this extra water.

Appropriate Use of Turf

The concept of appropriate turf is the most controversial and misunderstood of the xeriscape principles. Turfgrasses have a place in the landscape, even the xeriscape. Turf provides a play surface for children and pets and is important in cooling the environment, reducing erosion, and preventing glare from the sun.

Efficient Irrigation System and Design

Match your irrigation method to the type of plant being irrigated – drip irrigation for individual plants and spray irrigation for grass. Drip is the most efficient way to irrigate because it puts water where it is needed and reduces evaporation.

Use a timer or controller to schedule irrigation and change schedules often – whenever the weather changes, especially when it rains. Put plants with similar water needs and similar rooting depths on separate valves.

sprinkler wattering lawn

Low-Water Use Plants

Plants that require less water are readily available in most nurseries. While you may use many of your old favorites in the oasis zone, there is a wide variety of colorful, fragrant, and beautiful plants for the less irrigated part of the landscape.

Many have long blooming seasons and attractive leaves. Some provide fall interest with multi-hued foliage and fruit, while others offer an attractive winter appearance.


Another critical principle and top benefit of xeriscape gardens is that these gardens require very little maintenance. However, maintaining your landscape is still highly important if you want to keep the garden and the plants in good condition. While keeping weeds at bay will be necessary for these gardens, placing a thicker layer of mulch over the soil should reduce the number of growing weeds.

The Bottom Line

Companies that specialize in xeriscaping have experts who can choose drought-resistant plants, plant them, and take care of them. At Land Designs by Colton, we can guide you in the selection of plants that are suitable for the climate and topography of your area, as well as guarantee that the plants are installed and cared for appropriately.