The difference between drought tolerant and drought resistant plants?

Define drought tolerant.  What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).

A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant.  Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.

cactus plants use little water are heat tolerant
Drought tolerant Saguaro Cactus and Prickly Pear Cactus

Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.

drought resistant landscape yard
flowering, hairy cactus with drought tolerant agave plants

Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss.  Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.

drought resistant tolerant bushes in yard design
xeriscape yard with XEROMORPHIC plants like cactus, yucca, ocotillo

Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.

xerophyte plants best drought resistant
A drought tolerant Joshua Tree and Yucca Cactus in this photo

In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.

what is drought tolerant and resistant plants
Saguaro cactus and Palo Verde Tree are well – adapted drought tolerant plants.

CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.

Blue agave cactus plant with spike leaves in desert
Lovely Agave titanota BLUE variety

High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.

ocotillo tall cactus for drought tolerant yard arizona
Ocotillo Cactus plant in the desert

Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.

Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.

color ideas for your desert low water, garden
colors of flowering lantana drought resistant plants next to oleander bushes

Lantana

drought tolerant and heat resistant flowering plants of the desert
The New Gold Lantana along with Trailing Purple Lantana plants
drought tolerant flowering lantana plants
White, Red (Texas) and Gold Lantana drought resistant desert plants

Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.

drought tolerant and heat resistant purple lavender plant
lavender shrub is drought resistant

Lavender

top best drought tolerant flowering plants
young lavender drought resistant plant

This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet).  Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow, yellow flowering drought resistant plants

Yarrow

Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower.  Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) drought resistant plants

There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.

Flowering Lantana Mound – Drought tolerant – Texas New Gold, Trailing Purple, Radiation, Yellow, Orange, Camara, Lantana Pictures

Lantana is the best drought resistant, heat resistant, desert flowering perennial.  Lets just say Lantana is perfect. With a genus of 150 species and numerous colors,  this perennial flowering plant in the verbena family, Verbenaceae, will certainly help create a perfect Arizona, Texas, Georgia, California garden that will attract butterflies!  Lantanta is one of the best choices for xeriscape yards.

New Gold and Texas Flame Lantana

This desert flowering perennial is native to tropical regions of Africa and here in the Americas. It comes in plants and shrubs commonly called Lantana and shrub verbenas. Some types of Lantana are considered invasive, the trailing plant spreads easily because the leaves are somewhat poisonous to most animals and critters leave Lantana alone.

Trailing Purple Lantana, Texas New Gold, Radiation, Yellow Verbenas

This is precisely why Lantana is a large part of my Sonoran desert garden. Not only is Lantana resistant to the extreme hot temperatures in Phoenix, Tucson, and Southern Arizona, but also drought tolerant and the small animals leave this verbena shrub alone!  Our dogs are not interested in the Lantana Plant, flowers or the Lantana poisonous leaves.

Lantana field where I shop

This photo above is a flowering Lantana ocean!  Periodically I shop in this strip mall only to find an enormous Lantana,  field of Red, Yellow, White, Trailing Purple, Texas New Gold, Confetti, Camara, Texas New Flame and more.  Honestly I drive out of my way so I can enjoy this colorful display.  This Lantana mound is truly a butterfly magnet.

Lantana Camara, in the verbena family, has sometimes been called red, yellow, or wild sage, even though it is in a completely different family than sage.  Camara colonizes new areas when its seeds are transported by birds. Once it reaches an area, L. camara spreads quickly. Camara grows so well, that efforts to eradicate it have completely failed. Lantana Camara is fire resistant, and quickly grows in burnt areas.

Trailing Purple, Trailing White and Texas New Gold Lantana Mound

Camara has become naturalized in tropical and warm regions worldwide.  Livestock foraging on the plant has led to widespread losses in the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia.

Lantana Camara In a container or pot

In the photo above is my lantana camara that I’ve grown in a large pot – container.  The planter is a ceramic type which I do not recommend as it gets very hot in 100 – 110 degree weather. Most of my lantanas are growing in pots or containers.

Yellow, Texas New Gold Lantana in a Container

The bright yellow Lantana pictured above is the Texas New Gold I have growing in a pot.  The Lantana container sits nicely on the side of the pond and at night the solar lights give an amazing atmosphere!  A separate article is coming with my personal verbena plants, shrubs.

Orange and Yellow Lantana is called Radiation

TIDBITS:  Lantana plants are a perennial flowering plant with hollow stems.  Pruning tip for Lantana – careful NOT to over prune your Lantana because water can drip down into the hollow stems and rot the crown.