Skip to Content

Part Of The High Country Gardens Waterwise Plants Learning Center


With waterwise plants, also called drought tolerant or xeric plants, your garden can do more than just survive dry conditions - it can thrive. Read on for expert tips on choosing the best plants for sustainable gardening in your own yard.

Follow Along With More Guides
How To Plant Waterwise Perennials  |  6 Waterwise Yard Ideas

Plants With A Purpose: Why Waterwise Plants?

Sustainability Begins In Your Backyard

Our founder, David Salman, knew that plants play a vital role in the interconnected ecosystem that connects all life on Earth. He believed that “our gardens must be more than just beautiful.” He understood that to co-exist with the land and wildlife, we need to adapt our gardening practices, and to see plants for not only their beauty, but also their ability to preserve the environment. 

Conserving water in our own backyards with is one of the most important ways we can contribute to a healthy ecosystem. As drought conditions and water restrictions increase across the country, choosing low-water and xeric plants helps to protect and conserve our precious water sources.

High Country Gardens was founded to provide gardeners with a diverse and ever-expanding palette of waterwise plants that are well-suited plants to the unique challenges of Western gardens – and for people across the country who believe that their garden can be more than just beautiful.

Types Of Waterwise Plant Offerings

A Beautiful Palette Of Waterwise Plants

From the beginning, High Country Gardens has focused our plant selection on cold hardy, xeric perennials to help conserve Western water resources. We offer over 400 premium perennial varieties. Many of our popular waterwise plants are also available to purchase in bulk for greater savings.

Waterwise Pre-Planned Gardens

Our Pre-Planned Gardens are designed to make waterwise garden design easy for anyone. Each Pre-Planned Garden includes reliable, garden-tested waterwise plants, as well as a garden layout map that makes planting simple. You can bring home a professional landscape design by horticultural heroes including our founder David Salman and Colorado garden designer Lauren Springer. Our Pre-Planned Gardens have been bestsellers ever since they were first introduced by David Salman over ten years ago. Pre-Planned Gardens are exclusive to High Country Gardens.

Waterwise Perennial Collections

Similarly to our Pre-Planned Gardens, High Country Gardens waterwise perennial collections are curated to make waterwise garden design easy. Perennial collections are designed to solve common challenges for Western gardeners, such as high elevations, heavy wind, clay soil, deer & rabbits, shade, or intense heat. Our collections also showcase bestselling waterwise perennials, such as Lavender, Agastache, Salvia, and more. Perennial collections do not include garden layout maps, and are meant to help start or enhance your garden.

Plants For Your Precipitation

Use the map below to find your average annual precipitation (rainfall and snowfall). Then, use the key to find which group of plants is best for your yard. Below you'll also find tips for choosing plants that need less water or more water than your climate offers.

The map shows average rainfall over the course of a year, a helpful measurement for understanding relatively how much water you’ll receive in your area. However, every yard may include wetter or drier conditions, depending on your geography. Average rainfall also doesn’t take into account weather patterns - for example, your area may experience long periods of drought between rainfall, or receive steady rainfall. Climate change is making precipitation patterns even more irregular.

With that in mind, rest assured that the charts below will provide a useful benchmark to help you choose the best plants for your yard. While the weather may be unpredictable, know that High Country Gardens plants are resilient and will thrive in rugged conditions. 


Shop Very Waterwise Plants | Mature xeric plants tolerate dry, arid, desert-like climates with fewer than 10 inches of annual precipitation. 

Shop Waterwise Plants  | Mature waterwise plants tolerate dry climates and require just 10-25 inches of annual precipitation. 

Shop Average Moisture Plants | These plants thrive in more temperate climates with annual precipitation between 25-40 inches.

Shop High Moisture Plants | Plants with high moisture requirements thrive in humid, rainy climates that receive more than 40 inches of annual precipitation. 

Tips for choosing plants that need less water or more water than your climate offers:

  • Plants that need more water than your average can be grown in wetter areas of your yard, or grown in garden beds or containers where you can give them supplemental irrigation.
  • Plants that need less water than your average can be grown in dryer areas of your yard, grown in containers, or in garden beds where you can provide extra soil drainage.

Use our Plant Finder to easily shop plants grouped by their moisture preference. When shopping at High Country Gardens, use our Soil Moisture shopping filters to find plants that will thrive in your yard.

The Best Waterwise Plants For Your Growing Conditions 

Evaluate the growing conditions of your space to find the right waterwise perennials. 

sun icon


For those hot, dry planting areas, you need plants that can thrive in long hours of unrelenting Western sun. These sun-loving waterwise plants will have no problem holding their colorful blooms and textural foliage to soak up the sun. 

shade icon


Just about every yard has shade somewhere, whether it’s beneath trees and shrubs, or along the side of a home or fence. Plants for dry shade offer a great solution for these challenging areas.

earth icon

Climate Zone & Region

At High Country Gardens, we’ve curated our top recommendations for plants that are best suited for specific regions of the United States, including the West, Southwest, Southeast, Texas, Colorado, and Desert Landscapes. 

Waterwise Plants By Advantage

When shopping for plants at High Country Gardens, filtering for Plant Advantages will help you find plants suited to your gardening goals.

Waterwise Native Plants

Native plants are essential for healthy ecosystems and a healthy web of life. Growing plants that are native to your region can help to create a sense of place in your yard. Plus they’re highly adaptable and resilient to the challenges of your climate.

Popular waterwise native plants include Agastache, Salvia, Penstemon, Ornamental Grasses, and many unique species as well. Our native plant selection includes native species and native hybrids - many of which were introduced to the horticultural trade by David Salman and High Country Gardens. 

Waterwise Pollinator Plants

High Country Gardens Plants With A Purpose include plants with Natural Nectar to attract and nourish pollinators in your yard. Pollinators are the pulse of the planet, and observing pollinators such as native bees, bumblebees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds in our yards is one of the most rewarding experiences of gardening. Fill your yard with the natural nectar that they need, and help restore pollinator populations.

Waterwise Habitat Plants

High Country Gardens Plants With A Purpose include plants that Create Habitat. Plants play a vital role in healthy ecosystems. Birds and insects rely on native plants for food and refuge, but their habitats have been lost due to development across the country. 

Don’t let your yard be a biological wasteland - plant habitat for a yard that’s filled with life! Include as many native species as possible. These resilient plants have established relationships with pollinators and wildlife to help support a healthy ecosystem.

Waterwise Lawn Replacement

Did you know that waterwise plants can use up to 70% less water than Kentucky Bluegrass? Gardeners in the West – and across the country – are learning that you don’t need a lawn to have a beautiful yard. Replacing thirsty turfgrass with waterwise plants will improve curb appeal and help support pollinators and birds, while significantly saving water.  

In particular, groundcover perennials are an increasingly popular lawn alternative. These low-growing plants give you the same neat and tidy low-growing appearance of a lawn, without the need to mow.

Waterwise Deer Resistant Plants

While it’s enjoyable to see wildlife in your yard, nothing is more disappointing than finding that your garden has become a snack. An essential deterrent is choosing deer resistant waterwise plants. These plants have natural defenses against hungry deer, such as resinous, spiky, or fuzzy foliage, aromatic essential oils, or bitter sap, which makes them unpalatable.

Waterwise Container Plants

Waterwise plants are the ideal solution for containers. Whether you’re growing a container garden on your porch, patio, or balcony, plants in containers are often exposed to harsh elements like heat, sun, and extremely fast-draining soil. 

Container plants also must have root systems that are suited to the confined space of the plant pot. 

Waterwise Rock Garden Plants

Gardeners from hilly and mountainous regions may find this garden style familiar! Rock gardening was David Salman’s favorite style of gardening, and the front yard of his Santa Fe home is planted as an expansive rock garden with a wide variety of xeric plants, large and small. Discover our unique palette of compact perennials, cold hardy succulents, and cacti for your rock garden.

Noteworthy Waterwise Plants

High Country Gardens Introductions

High Country Gardens is renowned for our unique plant introductions from our founder, David Salman. He was dedicated to increasing the accessibility of plants that can thrive in Western gardens. He sought out both Western native plant species, as well as “Old World” species from regions that also have cold arid climates and poor soils. He carefully selected plants for their beauty and improved garden performance, with features such as unique flower color, improved disease resistance, or exceptional value to pollinators. As we carry on the legacy of David Salman, we continue to develop an innovative palate of waterwise plants for sustainable gardeners in the West and across the country.

High Country Gardens Exclusive Plants

Our Exclusives include plants that you won’t find anywhere else! Exclusive items include perennials grown in limited quantities only at the High Country Gardens greenhouses, as well as Pre-Planned Gardens and collections that are curated by our amazing team of horticulturists.

Plant Select® Perennials

Add these plants to your must-have list for waterwise gardening in the West. Plant Select® plants are waterwise and garden-tested plants proven to thrive in the challenging conditions of the High Plains and Intermountain regions of the West. Plant Select® is a collaboration that brings together some of the greatest minds in sustainable gardening, including Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, and many of the region's best horticulturists, plant breeders, landscapers, and commercial plant growers. 

Award-Winning Plants

These tried and true selections have been honored by national horticultural associations, including The Perennial Plant Association, the Green Thumb Award, The Royal Horticultural Society, and others. These plants have exceptional merit and have received awards for their outstanding characteristics. 

waterwise garden

Explore Our Palette Of Waterwise Perennials

Now that you know how to choose the right plants for your yard, shop our outstanding selection of hundreds of waterwise plants, Pre-Planned Gardens, and collections.

More Helpful Resources

sustainability badge graphic