11 Drought Tolerant Plants In Utah For Water Wise Landscapes

Water-wise plants are favorable for those who live in dry regions since the water source is limited. It also applies in Utah, where the summer months can be scorching. Drought also often occurs in the area during the season. Hence, only drought tolerant plants in Utah may survive, mainly the native plants. Furthermore, people in Utah generally make a rock garden to landscape their outdoor space because tropical ones are nearly impossible.

They decorate it with drought-tolerant plants, including ornamental grasses, some perennials, evergreens, and trees in Utah. Therefore, to give you more options, we created a list of drought tolerant plants in Utah that you can grow in your Utah garden. These resistant plants do not need a lot of water, so they are effortless to care for. Without any further ado, let’s check out the list!

1. Banana Yucca

Let’s start with New Mexico’s flower state, Banana Yucca or Yucca baccata. It obtains the name ‘Banana’ because of the tasty and sweet fruits whose shapes resemble bananas. They were favorites of Native America and became one of the vital food sources for them. The people usually remove the seeds, roast them, and pound the fruits before late drying them to make a sweet snack.

drought tolerant plants utah
Banana Yucca

Moreover, the desert succulents thrive in the area with extensive sunlight yet withstand partial shade. Considering their natural habitat, they favor poor, dry, sandy soil and tolerate drought conditions. They also will cope with well-drained soil conditions but won’t grow on soggy ground.

2. Blue Sage

Who would’ve thought these stunning purple flowers would be included in the Utah drought tolerant plants list? Salvia pachphylla, more popular in its common names, Purple Sage and Blue Sage, belongs to the evergreen shrubs in Utah. You can easily spot them in the landscape as they grow 3 feet tall at 5,000-10,000 feet above sea level. They bloom for about 10-14 weeks, from late June to September.

drought tolerant plants utah
Blue Sage

As for the maintenance, they are drought-resistant plants that can grow in hot Utah summers. Amazingly, they have excellent drought tolerance and cope well with the cold. Furthermore, Blue Sage prefers to grow under the full sun in stony, sandy, well-drained, and dry soil conditions. You must not introduce the plant to waterlogged soil unless you want to ruin it.

3. Broom Snakeweed

Belonging to the drought-resistant flowering shrubs in Utah, Broom Snakeweed or Gutierrezia sarothrae will adorn the landscape design with its vibrant tiny yellow flowers. They commonly grow in rock gardens because of their low-growing habit that effortlessly adds cheerful shade among the bare surroundings. You can enjoy their beauty from August to November when the bloom covers nearly all the thread-like leaves.

drought tolerant plants utah
Broom Snakeweed

Like other drought-tolerant Utah plants, Broom Snakeweed loves the sun but prefers partial shade. This perennial shrub also favors dry soil conditions, with caliche-type, loamy, sandy, limestone-based soil types. Additionally, it makes a tremendous water-wise landscape because no frequent watering is necessary.

4. Desert Globemallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua, popular as Apricot Mallow or Desert Globemallow, is a drought-tolerant native plant to Utah that grows best in the dry desert climate. It bears striking orange flowers that attract pollinators, like bees and butterflies, as they provide nectars for them to feed.

drought tolerant plants utah
Desert Globemallow

Furthermore, the plant is very adaptable and versatile. It copes well with the heat and cold. In addition, Desert Globemallow thrives in full sun, and well-drained soil with proper drainage because it does not tolerate wet soil. Also, it is self-propagated with seeds; thus, it will occur naturally in your garden. To rejuvenate the plant, cut it off after flowering terms.

5. Desert Zinnia

Another yellow flower plant that will provide a long-season interest to the Utah landscapes. Zinnia grandiflora or Desert Zinnia is a drought tolerant perennial that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The yellowish color of the flowers plus the dense foliage makes Desert Zinnia a favorite groundcover for rock gardens.

Desert Zinnia
Source: Pinterest (@plantselect.org)

As its name suggests, this flowering plant grows abundantly in dry areas such as deserts with sandy, limestone-based, gravel, or sandy-loam soil types. Due to these habitat conditions, the plant has a high tolerance for extreme heat, strong winds, and cold air. However, it prefers partial shade in terms of light intensity.

6. Goldmoss Stonecrop

Its golden yellow color makes Sedum acre better known as Goldmoss Stonecrop. It is an evergreen, low-growing, succulent perennial that often grows around rocks. They also form a beautiful carpet or mat to decorate the landscape during the summer. Therefore, people often include this drought-tolerant plant in their rock gardens.

drought tolerant plants utah
Goldmoss Stonecrop

Besides being beautiful, Goldmoss Stonecrop is also easy to maintain. This hardy succulent tolerates drought, cold, and even high salt content. However, do not expose them to wet winter as it does not take wet soil. Moreover, they also like areas with full sun, dry to medium, and poor to moderately fertile soils. Even more remarkable, it is generally pests and diseases free that forgives neglect, in case you leave them for vacay for quite some time.

7. Pink Ice Plant

At first glance, the flowers of Delosperma Kelaidis look like ice crystals that are clustered in pink. Perhaps, their shape is what makes it called the Pink Ice Plant. Even though they look similar to daisies, they are succulent, whose flowers lushly wrap the green foliage. Thanks to their beauty, you can effortlessly make them water-wise landscapes.

drought tolerant plants utah
Pink Ice Plant

Similar to other mat-forming plants, Pink Ice Plant has a low-growing habit, only about 3-6 inches tall and 12-14 inches wide. They survive heat and drought yet cannot tolerate wet soils. Additionally, this sun-loving perennial prefers dry, sandy, well-drained soil, making it perfect for the Utah garden if you want to try to grow the plant, water it only in its growing stage.

8. Indian Ricegrass

It is one of the drought-tolerant Utah native plants that spread in almost all states of the United States, the Indian Ricegrass or Acnatherum hymenoides. Just like its name, the ivory seed heads are similar to rice grains. And as it turns out, they are edible! Indigenous Americans often use the seeds to make bread or porridge.

drought tolerant plants utah
Indian Ricegrass

At the same time, the birds happily feast on them when they fall to the ground. Although not commonly grown as ornamental plants, Indian ricegrass is an essential crop in land reclamation. It is very tolerant of drought and high temperatures and likes to soak up under the full sun.

9. Lydia Broom

Despite being native plants to Europe, Lydia Broom or Genista lydia is one of the drought tolerant plants in Utah you can easily grow in your garden. The ornamental feature of this dwarf shrub is its bright yellow flowers which grow compactly and densely to cover the leaves. You can even plant it in a container if you don’t have a large area.

Lydia Broom
Lydia Broom

In addition to its enchanting appeal, Lydia Broom is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant that grows well in Utah. It performs in poor, infertile, well-drained soil under total sun exposure. In addition, you don’t need to water them daily as it tolerates dry conditions. Furthermore, you can make a flower bed, ground cover, cottage, and coastal gardens with these brilliant flowers.

10. Rose of Sharon

The exotic beauty of Sharon’s Rose (Hibiscus syriacus) exhibits its stunning purple-pink blooms with emerging protruding tubes of yellow stamens. So beautiful, the flowers are like imitation flowers that decorate the green bush during the long blooming period. The flowers are heaven for pollinators, including birds and butterflies.

Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon

Even though it tolerates part shade, the flowers grow optimally in full sun. It is also adaptable to drought conditions and heat, making it ideal for growing in Utah dry gardens. As for maintenance, you can just let it grow naturally to form a vase-shaped shrub or lightly prune it as desired.

11. Silver Lupine

Though having the name ‘Silver,’ this native plant does not even have a single shade of silver flower color. Instead, Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons) bears graceful-looking small purple flowers that grow in long clusters. It is a fast-growing shrub commonly found all over Utah, from the coasts to the mountains.

Silver Lupine
Silver Lupine

Since it can form a grove which may be disturbing, you need to prune it to have long-lasting blooms. Besides that, keeping good drainage and low moisture under full sun helps the native plant’s growth. Under proper growing conditions, your Silver Lupine may have a long, happy life.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the most drought-resistant plant in Utah?

If you are looking for the most drought-resistant plants in Utah, go no further than succulent, cactus, and sage. Utah has several succulents that will adorn your garden effortlessly, such as Banana Yucca, Goldmoss Stonecrop, and Delosperma Kelaidis. As for the cacti, Prickly Pear Cactus is everyone’s favorite. In addition, Russian sage and Blue sage would be your ideal pick in case you love flowering plants.

What plants grow well in northern Utah?

Northern Utah’s climate is typically desert-like, with dry and hot temperatures. In fact, it is one of the driest states in the U.S., with the lowest humidity, around 35%. Luckily, some plants grow well in Northern Utah, including Black-Eyed Susan, Yellow Tickseed Coreopsis, Cliff Rose, Juniper, Boxwood, and Red Elderberry. You may also grow other plants, but make sure they can thrive in the U.S. hardiness zone 4 to 6.

What is the most drought-tolerant ground cover in the Utah garden?

Considering the harsh climate, choosing a drought-tolerant ground cover for the Utah garden can be tricky. However, Lydia Broom, Desert Zinnia, and Periwinkle would make the best ground cover for your landscape. If you favor vibrant yellow flowers, then Lydia Broom and Desert Zinnia are your perfect deals. Meanwhile, Periwinkle will mesmerize you with its stunning purple blooms in spring. 

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