Best Trees for Drought Areas (Drought Tolerant Trees by Zone)

Best Trees for Drought Areas (Drought Tolerant Trees by Zone)

Noticed higher energy or water bills this summer?

You may have if you’ve been cranking the AC or watering your garden more to combat the extreme heat. And, you’re right to take action. 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record.

Instead of reacting, though, approach the dry spells and heat proactively. Pick drought-tolerant trees–especially if your state is currently in severe drought. Remember though, wait until fall to plant new trees!

What states are currently experiencing drought?

As of early August, the U.S. Drought Monitor found more than 20 percent of each state below is experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

  1. California: 59 percent of state
  2. Georgia: 28 percent of state
  3. Massachusetts: 40 percent of state
  4. Nevada: 22 percent of state
  5. New York: 27 percent of state

What are the best drought-tolerant or drought-resistant trees for my zone?

Set yourself up for success by picking trees in your planting zone that will also tolerate drought.

Note: Trees with an asterisk are drought-tolerant only when established.

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 9 and Zone 10 (California and Las Vegas, Nevada)


Pictured: Sycamore tree

  •  California sycamore* (zone 7-10): Large, fast-growing shade tree
  •  Western sycamore (zone 7-10): Fast-growing shade tree
  •  California oak (zone 7-11): Fast-growing shade tree
  •  Holly oak* (zone 7-11): Durable shade tree that stays evergreen
  •  Southern magnolia (zone 6-10): Flowering evergreen that’s moderately drought tolerant
  •  Eldarica pine (zone 6-10): Heat-tolerant, fragrant and evergreen

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 7 and Zone 8 (Georgia, North California and Southern Nevada)

Pictured: Oak tree

  • Kentucky coffee tree (zone 3-8): Drought-resistant shade tree
  • White oak (zone 3-9): Large shade tree that can tolerate moderate drought
  • Northern red oak (zone 3-8): Fast-growing tree with fall color and some drought tolerance
  • Eastern red cedar (zone 2-9): Heat-tolerant evergreen with good drought tolerance
  • Thornless honeylocust (zone 3-9): Fast-growing shade tree with moderate drought tolerance

Drought Tolerant Trees: Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 and Zone 6 (New York, North Nevada and Massachusetts)

Pictured: Maple tree

  • Sugar maple (zone 3-8): Shade tree with fall color and moderate drought tolerance
  • Silver maple (zone 3-9): Large, fast-growing tree with moderate drought tolerance
  • Colorado blue spruce (zone 2-7): Evergreen with moderate drought tolerance
  • Bur oak (zone 3-8): Large shade tree with some drought tolerance
  • Paper birch (zone 2-7): Fast-growing tree with fall color and some drought tolerance

Learn more about caring and watering trees in drought here.


  • The Tree Doctor September 18, 2018 >Hi Carlos, Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area based on the zip code provided. I would recommend talking to your local nursery. They will be able to provide you with the proper direction. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Carlos.
  • Carlos Evaristo Cardona September 15, 2018 >Need your expertise. I need several FAST growing trees for my farm in ONIX california. contact me please. I thing is Zone 8a or 8 Zone 8b my Zip code is 94255. Sincerely yours Carlos... 323-213-1699. Thanks
  • The Tree Doctor December 21, 2017 >Hi there, Abraham. We would recommend checking the legalities of transporting trees to other countries before you proceed with this. If it is legal, aloe or cacti would be good drought resistant options. Hope this helps, Abraham.
  • Abraham Jedidiah December 19, 2017 >I want to buy some drought resistance trees and flowers to Nigeria. How do i go about it and get it to Nigeria. It's a matter of urgency, please. Thank you. +2348096287060
  • The Tree Doctor July 13, 2017 >Hi Gary! We would recommend planting a magnolia tree. However, a newly planted tree will always need watered at first. You can find more information about watering a newly planted tree here, More information on magnolia trees can be found here, Here if you have any other questions, Gary.
  • Gary Schinagel July 11, 2017 >Im looking for a fast growing sterile non invasive flowering tree that requires minimal water and minimal maintenance.
  • The Tree Doctor May 30, 2017 >Hi Darlene. This magnolia tree is hardy up to zone 10, so yes, it should grow quite well in Grass Valley, California. These trees grow 12-24" per year, which is a slow/medium growth rate. As far as leaf drop goes, these trees are evergreens. But, they do have quite a bit of leaf drop each spring as they lose their old leaves and grow new ones. Because of this leaf drop, some people veer away from this type of tree, but they are truly beautiful! Here if you have any other questions, Darlene.
  • Darlene Lockwood May 29, 2017 >Will Southern Magnolias do well in Grass Valley, Ca.? How fast growing are they? Do they have much leaf drop? Thank you.
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