16 Australian Drought Tolerant Plants For Your Garden

Are you tired of struggling to keep your garden alive during dry conditions? Fortunately, there are plenty of Australian native plants that are perfect for drought-resistant gardening.

When it comes to choosing the right plants for your garden, not all plants are created equal. Some require specific care and attention, while others can survive in even the most challenging conditions.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular Australian native plants that thrive in areas that are prone to drought.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum)

Eucalyptus camaldulensis | Plant varieties
Eucalyptus camaldulensis

The River Red Gum is a majestic Australian native that can grow up to 45 meters tall.

Its smooth bark is a striking feature, ranging from white to grey, and peeling off in long strips to reveal a vibrant red layer underneath. Its leaves are long and narrow, with a glossy green appearance that shimmers in the sunlight.

This tree is a common sight along riverbanks and floodplains, where it provides vital habitat for a range of native wildlife.

The river red gum is also highly valued for its timber, which is used in construction, furniture-making, and even as firewood. With its impressive size and stunning appearance, this eucalyptus tree is a true icon of the Australian landscape.

Brunonia australis (Blue Pincushion)

Blue Pincushion brunonia australis | Plant varieties
Brunonia australis / Photo by jeans_Photos / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Blue Pincushion is a small, evergreen native groundcover that can thrive in full sun or partial shade and a range of soil types.

Blue Pincushion will grow up to 0.3 metres high and wide. The flowers are bright blue balls that bloom from spring through summer.

The plant requires minimal watering and will tolerate drought conditions as well as moderate frosts. It’s a great choice for people who want an easy care perennial groundcover.

Acacia longifolia (Sydney Golden Wattle)

Acacia longifolia | Plant varieties
Acacia longifolia / Photo by Donald Hobern / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

You’ll be absolutely stunned by the mass of bright yellow flower spikes that appear on the Sydney Golden Wattle in late winter and early spring. This beautiful wattle can reach a height of around 7 metres.

If you’re looking for an effective screening plant, then this wattle may suit your needs as it can spread to a width of 4 metres.

It’s also both frost and drought-tolerant. It prefers to grow in full sun and well-drained soil.

Brachychiton populneus (Kurrajong)

Kurrajong Tree Brachychiton populneus 2 | Plant varieties
Brachychiton populneus / Photo by John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kurrajong tree has a dense canopy with glossy green leaves and produces cream flowers that have purple or pink throats from spring right through until autumn.

Apart from being an attractive shade tree, many parts of the Kurrajong tree have been used for food by Indigenous Australians.

Once established, the tree is very drought-tolerant but will drop its leaves during extended periods of dry weather. However, the leaves will grow back once the tree receives water.

Brachyscome multifida (Cut-leaf Daisy)

Brachyscome multifida white | Plant varieties
Brachyscome multifida / Photo by Melburnian / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0

Cut-leaf Daisy is a hardy perennial ground cover native to Australia. Its white, pink, or mauve flowers will add a pop of colour to your garden.

This easy-to-grow native Australian flower likes full sun and well-drained soil. It can tolerate drought conditions and doesn’t need much water once established.

You can use Australian Native Daisies in your garden as either ground covers or border plants; they look great with other Australian native grasses and perennial flowers.

Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass)

Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass 1 | Plant varieties
Themeda triandra / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This is a lovely decorative native grass species that changes colour with the changing seasons, going from green to maroon. It’s also a tufted grass species but it can be mown twice a year as it will reach a height of up to 90 cm.

Like most native grasses, Themeda triandra is also drought tolerant, however, it doesn’t like frost.

Cordyline stricta (Slender Palm Lily)

Cordyline stricta Narrow leaved palm lily | Plant varieties
Cordyline stricta / Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cordyline stricta, also known as the Slender Palm Lily, is an Australian native evergreen shrub that can grow up to 5 metres tall. It is commonly found in rainforests.

It has narrow, strappy leaves and small black berries. It can tolerate a range of light conditions, from full sun to shade. This cordyline prefers moist conditions but is also drought tolerant.

Brachychiton rupestris (Desert Kurrajong, Queensland Bottle Tree)

Brachychiton rupestris | Plant varieties
Brachychiton rupestris / Photo by John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Brachychiton rupestris is known for its unique appearance, with a thick trunk and branches that spread out in all directions. The leaves are a bright green colour and are shaped like a hand with five fingers.

In the spring, the tree produces clusters of beautiful, bell-shaped flowers that range in colour from pale pink to deep red. These flowers are a favourite of bees and other pollinators, making Brachychiton rupestris an important part of the ecosystem.

This tree is also incredibly hardy and can withstand drought and extreme temperatures, making it a great choice for gardens in hot, dry climates.

Hakea francisiana (Bottlebrush Hakea)

Hakea francisiana | Plant varieties
Hakea francisiana / Photo by Geoff Derrin / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

With its unique and intricate flowers, the Bottlebrush Hakea is a true beauty. The bottlebrush flowers are a vibrant shade of pink while the leaves are also quite striking, with a deep green colour and a sharp, pointed shape.

This native plant is easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of conditions, including those prone to drought.

Hibbertia scandens (Climbing Guinea Flower)

Hibbertia scandens flower | Plant varieties
Hibbertia scandens / Photo by Casliber / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 2.5

The Climbing Guinea Flower is a hardy native Australian ground cover. It’s ideal for erosion control but can also be used as a feature plant with its beautiful large flowers.

It is a vigorous flowering climber that can reach 1-2 metres in height and 4-5 metres in width. The flowers are large star shaped and yellow in colour, blooming in spring and summer.

This native prefers full sun to part shade and is drought tolerant once established. It tolerates light frost as well as soil salinity.

Cymbopogon ambiguus (Scent Grass)

Cymbopogon ambiguus 1 | Plant varieties
Cymbopogon ambiguus / Photo by Mark Marathon / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cymbopogon ambiguus is a perennial grass that grows up to 1 metre tall and has long, slender green leaves.

It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soil types and climatic conditions. It is commonly found in the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia, where it is an important source of food and shelter for native wildlife.

One of the most interesting features of Cymbopogon ambiguus is its lemony fragrance, which is released when the leaves are crushed or rubbed. Also referred to as Native Lemongrass, it is used in the production of essential oils, which are used in a range of products, including perfumes, soaps, and candles.

Lechenaultia biloba (Blue leschenaultia)

Blue leschenaultia lechenaultia biloba | Plant varieties
Lechenaultia biloba / Photo by Gnangarra / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0 AU

Blue leschenaultia is a beautiful flowering native that grows up to 1m tall and wide.

This low, spreading plant grows best in full sun. The open-petalled blue flowers bloom in spring or winter.

It is endemic to Western Australia, and it can grow in drought and light frost conditions.

Atriplex vesicaria (Bladder Saltbush)

Atriplex vesicaria | Plant varieties
Atriplex vesicaria / Photo by Melburnian / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0

This hardy Australian native features distinctive, silvery-green leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers.

It has the ability to survive drought conditions thanks to its ability to store water in its leaves. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who live in dry, hot climates, or who simply want a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require a lot of watering.

Another great thing about this plant is its versatility. It can be grown as a ground cover, a border plant, or even in containers. And because it’s a native plant, it’s well-suited to the Australian climate and requires very little maintenance.

Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paw)

Anigozanthos Kangaroo Paw | Plant varieties
Anigozanthos / Photo by Peripitus / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Kangaroo paws love living in a sunny position in your garden as long as they’re planted in well-drained soil. There is a range of varieties with varying flower colours.

Their lovely green foliage adds a little height and cover to bare areas and their delightful flowers will brighten up your garden during spring and summer.

Kangaroo paws are drought-resistant and require very little maintenance.

Eremophila Polyclada (Flowering Lignum)

Eremophila bignoniiflora x polyclada | Plant varieties
Eremophila bignoniiflora x polyclada / Photo by 阿橋 HQ / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

With its unique and intricate foliage, this plant will add some intrigue to any garden or landscape.

Also known as twiggy emu-bush, it produces small, delicate flowers that are a lovely shade of pink or purple. These flowers are a favourite of bees and other pollinators, making this plant a great choice for anyone looking to attract wildlife to their garden.

This plant is also incredibly hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions.

Acacia implexa (Hickory Wattle)

Acacia implexa Hickory Wattle | Plant varieties
Acacia implexa / Photo by Donald Hobern / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Hickory wattle will grow almost anywhere around the country, even in the outback as long as it receives some supplementary water in summer.

It has stunning dark green foliage and pretty cream, pom-pom flowers in summer.

This wattle is also drought and frost-tolerant once it becomes established. It’s a good idea to mulch around the base of the tree to protect the roots as suckering is common if the roots become damaged.

This native tree will reach a height of 8 to 10 metres.

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.


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