12 drought-tolerant plants that can take the heat.
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. This cultivar of the more common green-leafed species has dark reddish-purple leaves that sometimes look black. It grows up to 6 feet tall and wide and is easy to propagate from cuttings.
Agave guiengola. Not easy to find, but it’s worth seeking out. Its beautiful wide, blue-gray leaves form a rosette to about 3 feet across.
Agave parryi var. huachucensis. This small agave forms clusters of 1-foot rosettes that look like large blue artichokes. It’s a spectacular plant, despite the vicious spines on the leaves.
Aloe arborescens (Candelabra aloe). This South African plant quickly forms a 12-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide, shrubby mound with each branch sending up tall scarlet spikes of cylindrical 11/2-inch flowers in late spring. Some books present this aloe as a houseplant, however its excellent salt tolerance makes it perfect for dry outdoor coastal gardens.
Aloe brevifolia. A fairly small-scale aloe, this plant forms tight clumps of many 3- to 7-inch grayish green rosettes. It grows less than a foot tall and can be divided and replanted to form an attractive ground cover. In some areas of the country, it’s a fall bloomer, but Anderson says his blooms in the summer.
Aloe marlothii. This aloe has extremely large, thorny leaves to 3 feet long. When it blooms each summer, its candelabra of yellow or orange flowers is spectacular. This tree slowly grows up to 5 feet across and 12 feet high.
Aloe striata (Coral aloe). This aloe is very showy, fairly easy to find, and easy to grow. Its stemless rosettes of spineless gray-green leaves produce pendulous coral-red flowers on multi-branched spikes. It blooms in summer for more than a month.
Crassula perfoliata var minor (Propeller plant). Pale gray-green leaves are shaped like curved propeller blades standing on edge. Its brilliant red, fragrant flowers resemble small broccoli heads and appear in summer. Growing 3 feet tall, this plant is also great in pots.
Echinocactus grusonii (Golden barrel cactus). This slow-growing cylindrical cactus, also called mother-in-law’s cushion, eventually reaches 3 feet in diameter. Its distinctive golden spines almost glow when they’re backlit by the sun.
Euphorbia milii (Crown of thorns). This slow-growing shrubby euphorbia with ferocious-looking thorns amid bright green leaves comes from Madagascar. Very showy bracts that look like flowers appear year-round in red, pink, yellow, or white. It’s an excellent pot specimen.
Euphorbia rigida (Gopher plant). This plant has showy clusters of chartreuse bracts in late winter and early spring, so it makes an excellent companion to aloes with their bright orange and red blooms. Growing up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet across, it reseeds freely but is also easy to weed out.
Hunnemannia fumariifolia (Mexican tulip poppy). This 3-foot plant boasts brilliant, golden yellow flowers over finely divided blue-green leaves. It’s a short-lived perennial that reseeds freely when growing well.