15 Drought Tolerant Annual Flowers For Dry Climate Gardens

Do you live in a dry climate and can't seem to keep flowers alive? Perhaps you are planting the wrong flowers in your garden! There are plenty of flowers on an annual life cycle that can grow well in climates with less access to water. In this article, we look at our favorite annual flowers that thrive in dry climates with minimal moisture!

Drought Tolerant Annual Zinnia Flower


Perennials tend to be favorites in the world of gardening because of their ability to regrow and bloom season after season. However, there are plenty of reasons to consider planting annual flowers in your garden, especially if you live in a dry climate. Arid conditions can lead to many species of flowers having much shorter lifespans.

Annual flowers are temporary, making them ideal for beginners who aren’t sure what they want their landscaping to look like quite yet. These types of flowers also tend to be more affordable than perennial flowers, so they can fit tighter budgets. Since there’s a higher likelihood of flowers dying in more arid climates without access to water, annuals are often easier to replace.

Plus, by planting annuals, you get some flexibility. If you’re someone who enjoys switching up your style frequently, annuals might be the best choice for you. You can look forward to planting something new every spring.

If you live in a dry climate, never fear! We’ve put together a list of our favorite drought tolerant annual flowers that you can add to your garden this season. Let’s jump in!

African Daisy

Osteospermum spp
African Daisy must be watered moderately, fed in a timely manner during flowering, and also cut off the inflorescences that have begun to fade in time.
Scientific Name: Osteospermum spp.
  • Plant Type: Annual Flower
  • Geographic Location: South Africa
  • Plant Size: 1 to 3 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10 to 11

Known also as the Cape marigold and sunscape daisy, the African daisy signifies purity, loyalty, and innocence in the African culture from which it comes.

This hardy purple flowered annual generally has white petals with dark blue or purple centers, though other variants of the plant bloom in several different colors. The colors can be so vibrant that you might not think they’re real.

African daisies do well in dry climates with well-draining soil. Though considered annuals in most zones, these beautiful little blooms are very reliable perennials in zones 10 and 11.

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica
California Poppy loves the sun, in the shade, it develops poorly and may die.
Scientific Name: Eschscholzia californica
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: North/Central America
  • Plant Size: 6 to 12 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

The claim to fame of the California poppy is that it is the state flower of California. The stunning orange, cup-shaped flowers make an eye-catching addition to any dry-climate garden bed.

California poppies will give you beautiful colors from spring to late summer. They’re known to attract butterflies and bees. This annual is a North American native wildflower, making it a great option for gardeners that prefer to only plant native species.

As its bright color might suggest, the California poppy loves getting tons of sunlight. In fact, the flower will close up when the sun goes down as well as during cloudy, rainy days. Not only is this plant drought-tolerant, but it’s also deer resistant.

Common Lantana

Lantana camara
Common Lantana develops well in constantly moist soil, which should not dry out.
Scientific Name: Lantana camara
  • Plant Type: Annual/Perennial
  • Geographic Location: South Africa
  • Plant Size: 3 to 4 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 1 to 11

Common lantana is a versatile plant that can be treated either as an annual or a perennial based on where you live. In southern regions, you can grow this plant as an evergreen shrub, and it will bloom year round in the right locations.

In the north, common lantana is a perennial simply grown for its stunning flowers.

The clusters of flowers on this plant boast a rainbow of captivating colors. They bloom in shades of orange, pink, white, yellow, red, purple, and more, and they often bloom with multiple colors in a cluster.

If you’re looking to add fun pops of color to your yard for a season, choose common lantana.


Cosmos bipinnatus
Cosmos is an amazing plant, it can grow in drought, has good cold resistance, and can tolerate even light frosts.
Scientific Name: Cosmos bipinnatus
  • Plant Type: Annual Flower
  • Geographic Location: South/Central America, Southern N. America
  • Plant Size: 18 to 60 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

Delicate, colorful, and fun, cosmos flowers are excellent annuals that bloom dainty flowers similar to daisies. Their silky petals bloom in several colors, including red, pink, orange, and white, and they can grow as tall as 6 feet.

Cosmos are low-maintenance annuals that do well in any kind of soil, as long as it’s well-draining. They are very tolerant of dry, warm weather and can withstand seasons of drought.

Not only do these flowers provide you with fun colors, but they also attract butterflies and birds. You can create quite the natural oasis with these drought tolerant annuals.

French Marigold

Tagetes patula
French Marigold is a drought-resistant plant, but in the first half of summer requires watering.
Scientific Name: Tagetes patula
  • Plant Type: Annual Flower
  • Geographic Location: Mexico
  • Plant Size: 6 to 12 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

French marigolds are easy-to-grow annuals that produce tons of beautiful orange blooms in one season, which makes them well worth the purchase. These low-maintenance flowers do best in full sun and well-draining soil, where they can avoid fungal diseases.

When given plenty of sunlight and planted in a warm climate, marigolds will reward you with fluffy blooms in shades of red, orange, and yellow. Though there are different varieties, most showcase the iconic poof of several rows of petals.

Globe Amaranth

Gomphrena globosa
Globe Amaranth is an annual plant native to the dry regions of Central and South America.
Scientific Name: Gomphrena globosa
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Annual
  • Geographic Location: Central America
  • Plant Size: 12 to 24 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: All

No matter where you live, you can count on the globe amaranth to provide you with some cute and quirky style in this year’s garden. This true annual fits in well anywhere. It’s super easy to grow and matures quickly, allowing you to enjoy its cherry-like blooms.

Globe amaranth will bloom all summer, but what you see isn’t actually a flower. The technical term for it is a bract, which is a group of leaves surrounding a flower. While you can’t see the minute yellow flower inside, the typically red leaves surrounding it are just as pretty.

Licorice Plant

Helichrysum petiolare
Licorice Plant needs regular watering and fertilizing with nitrogen-containing fertilizers.
Scientific Name: Helichrysum petiolare
  • Plant Type: Tropical Perennial/Annual
  • Geographic Location: South Africa
  • Plant Size: 12 to 18 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9 to 11

Although the flowers on a licorice plant are not large or showy, the plant itself is a favorite among plant lovers. The plant gets its name from its licorice-like smell – though it is not edible, nor is it where we get licorice from.

The flowers on this plant are very small. They often go unnoticed, and many plants don’t bloom at all. However, when they do, they make the perfect subtle accent to the plant’s frosted, felt-like foliage.

In hotter areas, the licorice plant can be perennial – and invasive, for that matter. But in other zones, the plant serves as a lovely annual that grows quickly and adds a unique texture to landscaping.


For abundant flowering and the formation of lush foliage, the Melampodium must be fed with complex mineral fertilizers with low nitrogen content.
Scientific Name: Melampodium
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: Mexico, Brazil
  • Plant Size: 6 to 12 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9 to 11

Also known as the butter daisy or black foot, the Melampodium flower is a charming little plant that constantly greets you with several little yellow flowers.

Many people also refer to this plant as the mini sunflower, given how similar the blooms look on a smaller scale. Though most bloom yellow, other varieties can be orange or white.

Melampodium flowers are very easy to grow. They thrive in the ground as well as in pots, and they tolerate drought very well.

Moss Rose

Portulaca grandiflora
Moss Rose does not need frequent watering, however, plants in containers will need consistent moisture.
Scientific Name: Portulaca grandiflora
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: South America
  • Plant Size: 3 to 9 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

Moss rose is an attractive drought tolerant groundcover plant that thrives in well-draining soil and high heat. Though this plant is annual, it does seed and spread itself well. It’s a nice choice for someone on the fence about planting annuals or perennials.

Moss rose is also a stunning plant that blooms bright-colored flowers. These classic flowers have standard structures and grow in shades of red, yellow, pink, orange, lavender, and more.

They also attract butterflies for an added touch of charm.


Petunia spp
Petunia prefers light, well-drained soil, full sun, and plenty of water.
Scientific Name: Petunia spp.
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: South America
  • Plant Size: 6 to 18 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10 to 11

While they can be considered perennials in warm and moist climates, most gardeners treat petunias as annuals. Petunias are springtime favorites, often bought to fill in spaces or serve as border flowers.

The plants are known for their ruffled, colorful flowers that often bloom in bright pink, white, and purple. Their star-shaped flowers add beautiful color and texture to any flower bed or pot.

To make the most of your petunias, be sure to plant them in full sun. They prefer well-draining soil and warm temperatures.


Salvia is undemanding to soil fertility – it is more important that the soil is not too heavy.
Scientific Name: Salvia
  • Plant Type: Perennial/Annual
  • Geographic Location: Varies
  • Plant Size: 12 to 30 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full to Partial Sun
  • Plant Zone: Varies

If you’re a fan of lavender plants, you’ll love salvia. Also known as sages, salvias are drought tolerant shade perennials. They are often grown annually in certain locations, and thrive in hot, dry climates. They grow in patches that can spread as wide as five or six feet and boast tall stems with colorful stacks of flowers.

There are several different species of salvia, so it’s possible to find them in a wide range of colors such as deep purple, bold red, orange, white, pink, and more. These spikes can grow as tall as 30 inches.

If you want an annual species, aim for scarlet sage, mealycup sage, Texas sage, or Mexican sage.

Spider Flower

Spider Flower is a heat-loving plant, that loves light, and tolerates partial shade, but the decorative effect may decrease. Not afraid of drought, does not like waterlogging.
Scientific Name: Cleome
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: South America
  • Plant Size: 1.5 to 5 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full to Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10 to 11

Spider flowers, also known as Rocky Mountain bee plants and stinking clovers, are not a favorite of many people simply because they tend to resemble weeds. However, once they mature and bloom, they can be quite decadent.

Spider flowers bloom in colors like purple, white, pink, and lavender. They attract fun creatures like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, making them ideal for anyone who enjoys wildlife visitors.

The tiny clusters of flowers come with long, deep purple spines that stick out a few inches. They truly are unique and can add great depth to your garden.


Helianthus annuus
Sunflower produces large, brightly colored flowers and leaves only in well-lit areas.
Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Geographic Location: North America
  • Plant Size: 3 to 10 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

We all know a sunflower when we see one. Sunflowers can grow as tall as ten feet with massive yellow flowers that are 6 inches or more across.

But despite how large these summer flowers are, they grow very quickly. Because they are annuals, sunflowers mature at impressive speeds. You should see large blooms in as little as 80 days.

Sunflowers need plenty of sunlight, as their name suggests. They grow well when planted in groups, as they support each other in heavy winds. They grow with tons of seeds that will drop and prepare for the next season.


Catharanthus roseus
For intensive growth and flowering, the Vinca requires a large amount of sunlight
Scientific Name: Catharanthus roseus
  • Plant Type: Tropical Perennial/Annual
  • Geographic Location: Madagascar
  • Plant Size: 6 to 18 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun/Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 1 to 11

It’s easy to assume that a plant is either perennial or annual, but some can be both. In fact, many on our list are both. The vinca is also one of these plants.

In tropical zones 9 to 11, the vinca is a perennial. But everywhere else, the plant is treated as an annual. They are well known for being able to grow in some of the worst soil conditions.

Also known as the rosy periwinkle, the vinca plant is very similar to impatiens. It loves the sun and responds with five-petal, overlapping blooms in shades of purple and pink. Its dark-green, shiny leaves make the perfect complement to the colorful flowers.


Zinnia elegans
Zinnia requires full sun for at least 6 hours a day in well-draining soil.
Scientific Name: Zinnia elegans
  • Plant Type: Annual Shrub
  • Geographic Location: S. America, Mexico
  • Plant Size: 1 to 4 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

Zinnias are small, round, fluffy flowers that boast several rows of petals for a full, impressive appearance. They are annuals that bloom in a wide range of colors, including pink, yellow, orange, white, red, and purple.

These beautiful little poofs of color enjoy well-draining soil, love hot climates, and can grow up to four feet tall. Zinnias grow among tall stalks with large, long leaves in the form of shrubs.

While there are not many true drought tolerant annuals in the world, zinnia is one of them. Typically, zinnias remain annual no matter where you plant them.

Final Thoughts

From sunflower-like minis to colorful petunias, there are plenty of drought tolerant annuals available for you to try. Each of these species can grow quite well in dry, moisture lacking climates. Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned pro, any gardener can make use of these stunning annual flowers in their garden this season.

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