Drought Resistant Trees

Our Treecologists selected a few of their favorite hardy trees.

According to a recent report published in March 2018 in the Journal of Applied Ecology, lack of water inhibits growth in urban trees and makes them more susceptible to diseases and pests.

We have already covered how to properly water, but if you are in the market to plant new trees, consider these drought-resistant options (North Carolina, zone 7-8):

Nyssa sylvatica

Black Gum

Also known as black tupelo, these slow-growing trees are prized for their production of tupelo honey. Their long taproots make them difficult to transplant, so be sure to give them space in which to grow.

Ginkgo biloba


These trees typically grow to be about 40-70 ft tall and are resilient to a number of threatening factors including drought, heat and air pollution.

Prunus serrulata

Japanese Cherry

These trees are known for their pastel pink blooms in the Spring, but they also have marvelous mahogany bark. These small trees are also deer resistant which makes them an ideal ornamental for any yard or garden.

Tilia americana

American Linden

The broad, lily pad shaped leaves of the American Linden are havens for all types of wildlife including butterflies, bees, and squirrels. Their fragrant flowers can be used to make tea, and the sap can be used to make syrup. Lindens thrive in clay-rich soil and are drought resistant once established.

Magnolia grandiflora

Southern Magnolia

Magnolias waxy, dark green leaves and fragrant blooms are showstoppers. These magnificent trees are tolerant to drought once established but prefer the shade. Their low growing branches make them great climbing trees.

Liriodendron tulipifera

Tulip tree or Yellow Poplar

These large, fast-growing trees have unique leaves and distinct orange-banded flowers. They typically grow from 60’-90’ feet tall so need a significant amount of space.

Cercis canadensis


One of the first trees to bloom in the spring, Redbuds tend to be smaller, ornamental trees. This tree is part of the pea family which means the flowers are edible and taste like peas.

Amelanchier arborea


These small, hardy trees are not only drought resistant, but also produce white flowers in early spring and edible fruit. They also attract butterflies.

Cotinus coggygria


This medium-sized tree has billowy blooms in June (hence the name) and stunning fall color. Smoketrees also do well in clay-rich soils and are drought resistant.

Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula'

Weeping blue atlas cedar

These striking evergreens have drooping branches that fall naturally or can be trained to grow along a wall or trellis. Once established, they are low maintenance trees but be sure to not over water them.

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