desert vegetable garden

Best Drought Tolerant Vegetables

If you live in a dry climate and are looking for the best vegetables to grow in areas prone to drought, you will find all the best options here!

Growing a lush and wonderful vegetable garden can be done when you select vegetables hardy enough to handle low moisture climates.

In this article you will learn what you need to look when starting a low water garden.

Whether you want to grow in a dessert environment or for a low rain season, the following vegetables are suited to thrive in such conditions.

Selecting Vegetables for Dry Soil

vegetable garden ready for harvest

When looking to grow vegetables in dry climates, it is important that we consider where a particular vegetable originated.

Vegetables grown in parts of the world that offer a similar moisture condition to your area is the best place to start when selecting what to grow in your garden.

That means you will want to select vegetables that traditionally are grown in moderately arid and extremely arid regions.

Extremely arid regions have produced vegetables that have been selected for their ability to grow and thrive under persistent drought conditions.

These vegetables have been grown (sometimes for centuries) under the harshest water conditions.

Regions around the world where you will find these types of vegetables include Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Cyprus, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

In the US, these conditions are found in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Utah as well as California.

On the other hand, moderately arid areas experience more rain during the winter months than extremely arid regions. But it is not uncommon for these regions to go six months or more without rain.

Therefore, vegetables from these regions are also suitable for drought prone gardeners.

Drought Hardy Vegetables

cabbage plant in garden

It is possible to grow a thriving vegetable garden even under drought and low water conditions.

If you select the vegetable varieties below you will be able to create a bountiful harvest from your garden.


tomatoes growing on vine

Not all varieties of tomato are suitable for the harsh conditions of drought prone regions. Luckily there are a number of options you can grow if you are looking for drought resistant tomatoes.

Any of the following types of tomato will grow in dry soil conditions. These varieties are well suited for dessert climates.

  • Turkish Striped Monastery
  • Rosso Sicilian
  • Tatar of Mongolistan
  • Native Sun
  • Homestead 24
  • Costulo Genovese
  • Tropic
  • Porter Improved
  • Moneymaker
  • Nineveh
  • Punta Banda
  • Thessaloniki
  • Solar Flare
  • Omar’s Lebanese
  • Ciudad Victoria
  • Basrawya

The following types of tomatoes are ideal for dry, mountain regions.

Due to the short growing season of mountain regions in the US, be certain to opt for one of these varieties when growing tomatoes.

  • Prescott Heirloom
  • Fizz (Cherry)
  • Nova (Roma)
  • Siletz
  • Beaverlodge
  • Legend
  • Northern Delight
  • Glacier
  • Stupice
  • Punta Banda
  • Gill’s All-Purpose
  • Oregon Spring
  • Super Tasty
  • San Francisco Fog
  • Viva Italia
  • Eva Purple
  • Arkansas Traveler
  • Ozark Pink
  • Purple Ball
  • Marvel Striped
  • Brandywine
  • Purple Calabash

Bell Peppers and Sweet Peppers

sweet pepper plant

No vegetable garden would be complete without peppers. Luckily there are a number of tasty varieties you can grow in dry soil.

You will find both bell and sweet peppers you can grow no matter how dry your region or short your growing season is.

The following peppers are suitable for growing in high and low dessert conditions.

  • Jupiter Red Bell
  • Corno di Toro Giallo
  • Jimmy Nardello Italian
  • Ordono
  • Syrian Three Sided Pepper
  • Criolla de Cocina
  • Doux D’ Espagne or Spanish Mammoth
  • Del Arbol de Baja California Sur Chile
  • Arroz con Pollo

If you live in dry mountain region with a short growing season, the following peppers are for you.

  • Bulgarian Ratund
  • Chimayo Chile
  • Sheepnose Pimento
  • King of the North
  • Isleta Chile
  • Nambe Supreme Chile
  • New Ace
  • Yellow Wax
  • Anaheim
  • Yolo Wonder
  • California Wonder
  • Marconi
  • Big Bertha
  • Sweet Banana


eggplant plants in vegetable garden

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. They provide color and are a great ingredient to have in the kitchen.

The following varieties are ideal for desert conditions so if you grow a garden in extremely dry soil choose one of these types of eggplant.

  • Edirne Purple Striped
  • Gbogname Collared
  • Turkish Orange
  • Syrian Stuffing
  • Auburgine Burkina
  • Florida High Bush
  • Rosita
  • Aswad
  • Kazakhstan

And if you grow your garden in the mountains, these eggplant varieties are perfect for your short (and dry) growing season.

  • Ichiban
  • Dusky
  • Black Beauty
  • Rosa Bianco
  • Thai Green
  • Listada de Gandia
  • Ping Tung Long


zucchini in garden

There are many types of squash you can grow in dry soil. They come in many shapes and colors and selecting one of the following varieties will ensure you have an excellent squash harvest.

The following types of squash are ideal for dessert regions.

  • Lebanese White Bush Marrow
  • Sunburst Patty Pan
  • Tatume Zucchini
  • Iran Squash
  • Dixie Crookneck
  • Costata Romanesco Zucchini

If you grow your vegetables in the mountains, grow one of the following types of squash.

  • BC-2 Hybrid Zucchini
  • White Bush Scallop Patty Pan
  • Early Prolific Straightneck
  • Table King Acorn
  • Striata D’Italia
  • Lemon Golden
  • Cocozelle Zucchini
  • Dark Star Zucchini
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Green Stripes Cuchaw


cucumber plant closeup

I’ve been growing cucumber since I was a kid helping in my family garden. And (in my opinion) no vegetable garden is complete without them. And thankfully there are a decent selection of types of cucumber that thrive in dry soil.

These types of cucumber are ideal for desert climates.

  • Beit Alpha
  • Lemon Cucumber
  • Armenian Cucumber
  • General Lee
  • Poona Kheera
  • Summer Dance

And if you are growing cucumber in a mountain region, select one of the following varieties.

  • Maketeer
  • Morden Early #382
  • Marketmore 76
  • Salad Bush
  • Liberty Hybrid
  • Straight Eight
  • County Fair 83
  • General Lee
  • Suyo Long
  • Edmonson

Beans and Peas

snap pea plant with pea pods

Perfect for casseroles, side dishes, and salads, beans and peas are a must in any vegetable garden.

Select from the following list of peas and beans if you grow in a desert climate.

  • Rattlesnake Green Bean
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II
  • Yard Long Bean
  • Chinese Green Noodle Bean
  • Royalty Purple Pod
  • Blue Speckled Tepary Bean
  • Venture Bean
  • Asparagus Pea
  • Blue Coco Bean
  • Gita Yard Long Bean

And the following list of peas and beans are ideal if you live in a mountain area with a short growing season.

  • Renegade Bush Bean
  • Provider Snap Bean
  • Alaska Pea
  • Jade Bean Bush
  • Contender Snap Bean
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea
  • Cherokee Wax Bean
  • Super Sugar Snaps Pea
  • Butter Crisp Bush Bean
  • Tendergreen Bush Bean
  • Snowbird Pea
  • Wando Pea
  • Ideal Market Bean
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean
  • Golden Sweet Snow Pea
  • Landreth Stringless Bean

Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage

kale plants in vegetable garden

These are probably my favorite edible garden plants to grow. They provide the base for my family’s vegetables for the entire year, and there are numerous varieties to choose from for the dry soil gardener.

Select from the following varieties when growing in the desert.

  • Lacinato Kale
  • Purple of Sicily Cauliflower

If you live in a mountain area with a short and dry growing season, select from there types.

  • Solstice Broccoli
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Earliana
  • Bacalan De Rennes Cabbage
  • Nero Di Toscana Green Goliath Broccoli

Root Vegetables

beet plants in dry soil

While there are not many types of root vegetables suitable for extremely dry climates, there are a handful of excellent options for your vegetable garden.

Select one of the following for desert regions.

  • Flat of Egypt Beet
  • Bull’s Blood Beet
  • Chioggia Beet

When growing in the mountains, select one for the following root vegetables.

  • Botardy #552
  • Early Wonder Beet


lettuce plants in vegetable garden

Another vegetable staple you can grow in dry soil are greens such as lettuce, Bak Choy, Pac Choy, spinach, and chard.

When growing greens in desert areas, select from the following varieties.

  • Asian Bak Choy
  • Asian Pac Choy
  • Jericho Romaine
  • Asian Tatsoi
  • Australian Yellowleaf Lettuce
  • Hopi Red Dye Amaranth
  • Nevada Lettuce
  • Perpetual Swiss Chard
  • Gold Rush Lettuce

If you live in a mountain region, select from the following greens.

  • Space Hybrid Spinach
  • Asian Pac Choy
  • Asian Tatsoi
  • Asian Bak Choy
  • Sierra Lettuce
  • Merveille Des Quatre Saisaons Lettuce
  • Freckles Romaine
  • Green Oakleaf Lettuce
  • Slobolt Lettuce
  • Canton Bok Asian Green
  • Perpetual Swiss Chard


corn grown near mountains

And last but certainly not least, you can grow corn in dry soil. There are a number of varieties you can select from even when growing in drought prone regions.

Select from the following types of corn if you live in a desert area.

  • Daymon Morgan’s Kentucky
  • Anasazi Sweet Corn
  • Hopi Blue Flour
  • Painted Mountain Flour
  • Country Gentleman
  • Silver Queen

When growing corn in the mountains, go with one of these types, ideal for short and dry growing seasons.

  • Yukon Chief
  • Northern Extra Sweet Corn
  • Black Aztec
  • Oaxacan Green Dent
  • Silver Queen Hybrid Sweet Corn
  • How Sweet It Is
  • Tennessee Red Cob

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are many options for growing vegetables in dry soil and drought prone climates.

The key is to select vegetables that thrive with as little water as possible. And each of the types of vegetables you see here are adapted to grow in dry soil.

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