Ten Plants to Use in a Native Drought-Tolerant Pollinator Garden

Growing a beautiful lawn and flower garden can be difficult, especially if you live in a hot and arid part of the country. One way to help your garden to look lush and colorful, while also helping wildlife, is by creating a native pollinator garden. Whether you are seeking to add a pollinator garden as an accessory to your lawn or as the main attraction, using native, drought-tolerant, and heat-resistant plants can help to set you up for success.

In addition to choosing the best native plants, you will also need to prepare your garden properly and maintain it regularly in order to have a thriving, long-lasting garden. Flower gardens need regular maintenance such as deadheading flowers, dividing plants, and occasional watering. They will also need to be weeded to keep down competition from other plants, as well as fed with a fertilizer appropriate for their soil needs. The Golf Course Lawn Store is a good place to find your lawn and garden supplies. Finally, make sure that your flower garden is mulched to avoid bare dirt. Common mulches for arid areas include bark, straw, and gravel. Light-colored mulch, such as white rock, is a good option to help keep the soil cool and moist.

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

This flower is a drought-tolerant perennial with bright yellow flowers which can help to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. As a member of the aster family, desert marigold flowers are daisy-like and they are supported above a mound of gray-green foliage about 1-1.5 feet tall. The desert marigold, as its name implies, thrives in hot and dry conditions and is native to the Southwestern United States. 

Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea spp.)

The globe mallow is known for its vibrant, showy flowers in shades of orange, pink, and red. This flower brightens roadsides and fields around the arid West, attracting hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. The plants can grow from 1-4 feet tall depending on species and the flowers are usually clustered along tall flower stalks. The foliage, like that of many desert plants, is a gray-green color and the leaves are fuzzy. 

Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora)

The desert four o’clock has fragrant flowers that open in the late afternoon, as its name implies. The flowers are bright magenta and showy on low shrubs that grow around 1-2 feet tall. This plant is a good choice for attracting hummingbirds, moths, and bees and as a native of scrub forests in Utah, California, and Nevada, it flourishes in arid and desert environments.

Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata)

Milkweed is known as an attractive plant to monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed plants as a place to lay their eggs and as a food source for caterpillars. Decreasing supply of milkweed plants has contributed to the decline of butterflies in many places. Desert milkweed is a perennial milkweed species with unique, upright stems and lovely flowers. 

Penstemon (Penstemon spp.)

Penstemon, also known as beardtongue, are beautiful flowers of the western mountains and deserts that are known for their tall branches of showy blue, purple, or pink flowers. One of the loveliest of the mountain wildflowers, penstemons also adapt well to being grown in flower beds and are a good food source for wildlife. These flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies and make a lovely border or addition to a flowerbed. They are readily available at many nurseries and adapt well to arid and sandy soils.

Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)

Apache plume is a shrub with graceful, white flowers and feathery pinkish seedheads. It can grow to be about 4 feet around and is one of the largest plants on this list. It is a beautiful addition to a pollinator garden as an accent or background plant that attracts bees, butterflies, and birds. Apache plume thrives in dry, rocky, and sandy soils.

Salvia (Salvia spp.)

Salvia is a popular shrub grown in flowerbeds, landscaping, and flowerpots across the western US. The plant forms tall, rounded mounds of foliage with purple spikes of flowers throughout the summer. Salvia is an excellent pollinator plant that is very attractive to bees and butterflies. 

Agastache (Agastache spp.)

The Agastache, a kind of hyssop, has lovely fragrant flowers in shades of purple, pink, and orange which may attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your garden. The tall, showy flowers last until frost and can grow tall, adding an eye-catching spot of color to your yard. These plants prefer a dry climate and are well-suited for arid and xeric conditions. However, they are less hardy than some plants and may not survive the winter in many areas.

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)

Echinacea, or coneflower, is a perennial that is hardy throughout most of the US. This drought-tolerant plant is native to the prairie and while it might not be suitable for the driest desert, it is a great pollinator plant. Even though echinacea isn’t as drought-tolerant as some of the flowers on this list, it can survive in many dry areas and features tall, beautiful daisy-like flowers during the summer. As a bonus, it is also an excellent herbal supplement that many people take to use to help boost their immune system.

Indian Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella)

Indian blankets are beautiful, brightly-colored daisy-like flowers that grow in dry areas of the Western United States, often along roadways or ditches. These flowers, along with other members of the Gaillardia family, are interesting, with petals that have variegated colors from dark red to orange to bright yellow. Indian blanket plants are excellent additions to arid, drought-tolerant gardens and are generally low-growing flowers that make good border plants. 


These plants have adapted to thrive in arid environments and should help to attract a variety of pollinators to your garden while also adding beauty to the landscape. Remember, these plants will require appropriate care and maintenance based on the specific needs of each variety to ensure they will grow and thrive. Over time, a drought-tolerant pollinator garden will prove to be less needy and require less maintenance and water compared with a more conventional garden.