Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

May 12, 2023, 2:16 PM | Updated: 3:13 pm

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Landscape supply of Utah logo

This article about drought-tolerant plants for Utah is sponsored by the Landscape Supply of Utah.

One of the most common questions we get asked as nursery professionals is what are the best drought-tolerant plants for Utah.  Due to our climate and elevation, plants need to be able to handle our cold, snowy winters and intense dry summers.

The following perennials are just a few of the many drought tolerant plants we have available at Landscape Supply.  These are all full sun plants that can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water. 

Ice Plant

ice plant close up with purple and orange blooms

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Delosperma spp.

This low growing succulent-like plant works great as a ground cover, but it can also be used in rock gardens or as a filler plant in boulder retaining walls.  It produces vibrant daisy-like blooms in a variety of neon colors throughout the summer and grows only 3” tall and 12-18” wide.

Blue Oat Grass

shot of blue oat grass in pots from above looking down

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Helictotrichon sempervirens

This grass has stunning blue foliage that provides interesting color and contrast to any garden.  This grass is very similar in size and color to the Blue Fescue Grasses, however the Blue Oat Grass tends to be more drought tolerant while also maintaining its blue colored foliage in the summer heat

Grows 12-36” tall and 18” wide.

Autumn Charm Stonecrop

close up of autumn charm stonecrop in pots

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Sedum telephium ‘Lajos’

Sedum (known by the common name ‘Stonecrop’) is a vast genus of succulent-like plants that come in a variety of sizes and colors.  There are many different Sedum groundcovers, but there are also several upright varieties such as the Autumn Charm Stonecrop.  The plant has beautiful variegated green and white foliage and grows to be 12-16” tall and 10-14” wide.  It also produces large light pink blooms during late summer through early fall when most other plants have finished blooming. 

Rose Marvel Salvia

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Salvia nemorosa ‘Rose Marvel’

Sage often refers to plants in the Salvia genus, which encompasses numerous different species and cultivars including the well known and used May Night Meadow Sage with purple blossoms.  The Rose Marvel Salvia has rose pink blooms instead of purple and is a more compact variety growing only 10-12” tall and wide.  Like other Salvias, it continuously reblooms from spring until fall. 

Furman’s Red Sage

close up of furman's red sage about to bloom

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’

Another type of Sage in the Salvia genus is The Furman’s Red Sage.  This plant has tubular red blossoms that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators and blooms from late spring through summer.  It also has a more natural look and is great for mixed plantings with other drought tolerant perennials. Grows 12-18” tall and 18-24” wide.

Colorado Gold Treasure Flower

close up of Colorado Gold Treasure Flower with a hand holding it up

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Gazania linearis

The Colorado Gold Treasure Flower is an extremely hardy and tough Gazania that can handle our cold winters and sweltering summers.  It produces showy daisy-like yellow blooms from late spring through summer.  Growing only 3-6” tall and 12” wide, this a great drought-tolerant option for rock walls or for use as a border plant in small spaces.

Penstemons (Beardtongue)

close up of Penstemons with soil and blue oat grass behind it

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Penstemon spp.

Utah is considered the Penstemon capital of the world due to having the highest concentration of Penstemon species. Some species are only found in Utah and nowhere else!

There are several Penstemon species that grow as wildflowers in our mountains and deserts.  They typically bloom mid to late summer in alpine environments. 

There are many different varieties with different colored blooms available in nurseries.  Some popular varieties are the Rocky Mountain Penstemon and Wasatch Penstemon with blue blooms and the Red Rocks Penstemon with red blooms. 

Pictured above is the Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii).  This Utah native plant has tubular scarlet flowers and grows 1.5-3’ tall and wide. 

Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink Butterfly Bush

Close up of Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink Butterfly Bush

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Buddleia x ‘Podaras13’

Many people love butterfly bushes but don’t have the space to plant them.  The Flutterby Petite Butterfly Bush is a new dwarf variety growing only 24-30” tall and wide making it perfect for small spaces.  This variety is prized for its long blooming season and continuously produces showy purple blooms from spring until fall.  It is also one of the best plants for attracting pollinators. 

Sombrero Salsa Red Coneflower

Close up of Sombrero Salsa Red Coneflower at a plant nursery

Photo: Landscape Supply of Utah

Echinacea x ‘Balsomsed’

Purple Coneflower, known botanically as Echinacea, is one of the more well known and widely used perennials in Utah – and for good reason!  It is drought tolerant, low maintenance, and has showy blooms from mid-summer until fall that attract pollinators.  However, many people are unaware that there are numerous different Echinacea varieties that come in many different colors.  The Sombrero Salsa Coneflower has brilliant red blooms that add striking pops of color to any garden.  It grows only 24-26” tall and 16-22” wide and has a more compact form which gives it a neater appearance. This variety is also one of the most drought tolerant and cold hardy varieties available making it perfect for Utah’s climate.

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Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah