7 Drought-Tolerant Trees for USDA Zone 10 Landscapes

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 10 » 7 Drought-Tolerant Trees for USDA Zone 10 Landscapes

While living in a USDA hardiness zone as warm as zone 10 can have its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. One of the major issues for some of these regions is their propensity for drought.

A hot, dry, and arid climate can mean that many zone 10 gardeners have to navigate minimal rainfall and seasonal water restrictions. If you’re trying to establish a garden or just individual trees, you need to be aware of the watering requirements

Fortunately, there is a decent range of trees that can grow well with minimal watering once established, and some can even survive extended periods of severe drought.

Keep reading for our selection of the best drought-tolerant trees for zone 10.

7 Drought-Tolerant Trees That Grow in Zone 10

1. Holm Oak (Quercus ilex)

While most oak trees thrive in milder climates, the Holm Oak is an exception, growing as high as zone 10.

Native to southern Europe and Northwest Africa, It is a large umbrella-shaped tree with a rounded canopy and evergreen leaves that look similar to spiny holly leaves when young but become smoother as they age. In the fall it produces small acorns that are excellent sustenance for local wildlife.

Once fully established the Holm Oak is highly tolerant to salt, drought, strong winds, and pollution, so it is an excellent choice for gardens in coastal and urban areas. Use it in the landscape as a shade tree, street tree, hedge, or windbreak.

If you are planting the Holm Oak on your property, choose a location with full sun to partial shade in rich, moist, well-draining soil. It is easy to grow and typically disease-free, but can be affected by aphids and leaf-mining moths.

Other Common Names: Evergreen Oak, Holly-Leaved Oak, Holly Oak

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

2. Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) Flowers and Seed Pods
Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

A tropical beauty with a flowering display guaranteed to light up the landscape, the Jacaranda is a native of South America that now grows around the world in consistently warm to hot climates.

This stunning tree has a wide umbrella-shaped canopy and produces blueish-violet flowers that contrast beautifully with its delicate, feathery bright green foliage. In zone 10 these flowers are likely to appear in late spring and early summer, but in zone 11 they may appear more sporadically at any time of the year.

The Jacaranda can be used as a specimen plant and a lawn, shade, or street tree. Once established it is drought-tolerant and will only need to be watered during extended drought periods. It experiences few serious pest or disease issues but can be affected by aphids and oleander leaf scorch.

Jacaranda trees will grow well in full sun and sandy, fertile, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Blue Jacaranda, Sharp-Lead Jacaranda, Black Poui

Growing Zones: 10-11

Average Size at Maturity: 25-50 feet tall, with a 15-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Bull Bay Magnolia, Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) Tree, Flower and Bud
Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

One of the very best large ornamental trees for hot US climates is also a good option for drought-stricken areas! When planted in the right conditions the famous Southern Magnolia can withstand moderate levels of drought throughout its life. Just be aware that it may not survive the most extreme, extended periods of drought.

This gorgeous evergreen is one of the very best of the Magnolia family, with its rounded crown, waxy leaves, and large creamy-white blossoms that can grow up to 10 inches in diameter and give off a lovely fragrance in spring and summer. This flowering tree is gorgeous in every season.

Use the Southern Magnolia as a specimen, or plant in rows as a privacy screen or property line. This tree is unlikely to suffer serious pest or disease issues. It is a low-maintenance species when planted in the right conditions – provide it with full sun to part shade, and rich, moist soil with a neutral to acidic pH.

Other Common Names: Bull Bay, Large Tree Magnolia

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, with a 35-40 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Weeping Bottlebrush (Melaleuca viminalis)

Weeping Bottle Brush (Callistemon viminalis) tree and flowers
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

A heat-loving native of Australia, the Weeping Bottlebrush will add a striking element to your property in spring and summer with its vivid red bottlebrush-shaped blooms.

In its native habitat, it is found growing along creeks and rivers, and though it prefers moist soil and regular watering it will still perform well in drought conditions.

This eucalyptus variety can be grown as a large shrub or small tree, and along with its flowers, it is known for its narrow evergreen leaves and weeping, cascading branching habit that adds a graceful touch to your property. Use the Weeping Bottlebrush as a street tree, screen, hedge, or foundation plant.

This drought-resistant tree is very hardy and experiences few issues in landscape gardening. However, it can be attacked by mites and other insects that cause stress and produce witches’ broom.

Plant the Weeping Bottlebrush in a somewhat sheltered area with full sun or light shade and moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH.

Other Common Names: Red Bottlebrush, Drooping Bottlebrush, Red Cascade

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

5. Umbrella Pine (Pinus pinea)

Umbrella Pine trees
Image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenobe via Flickr

With the Umbrella Pine, it’s all in the name: this coniferous evergreen is a native of the Mediterranean and best known for its dense canopy that has been compared to an umbrella and a mushroom. In the US they are most commonly seen growing in coastal regions in California.

Its deeply fissured reddish-brown bark and clusters of tight green needles supply year-round visual interest. The Umbrella Pine is highly tolerant of both drought and salt, making it a good choice for coastal gardens. It is most often grown as a specimen or screen.

Despite its slow growth rate, the Umbrella Pine can eventually reach up to 60 feet or even taller, so it is better suited to large spaces. Plant it in slightly moist, well-draining soil. It can grow in most pH levels but prefers slight acidity.

Other Common Names: Stone Pine, Stone Umbrella Pine, Italian Stone Pine, Parasol Pine, Roman Pine

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 feet tall, with a 40-60 foot spread

6. Chilean Myrtle (Luma apiculata)

Chilean Myrtle
Image by Wendy Cutler via Flickr

Native to Chile and Argentina, the Chilean Myrtle is a wonderful shrub or small tree with enormous ornamental potential.

Most striking is its flaky cinnamon bark which contrasts beautifully with the creamy orange inner bark beneath, and its branches which grow in a twisting, contorting pattern.

It also has dark glossy evergreen leaves and produces clusters of delicate white blossoms in spring and purple edible fruits in summer and fall.

This species makes a wonderful specimen, accent tree, hedge, and screen. It is also an excellent choice for coastal and Mediterranean gardens. Outside of landscaping its fruits can be used in sauces, jams, and preserves, and its flowers attract pollinators which can produce a delicious honey product.

Once established the Chilean Myrtle is exceptionally drought tolerant. It does not experience any serious pest or disease issues. Plant it in full or part shade with moist, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Temu, Palo Colorado, Soap-Bark Tree, Orange-Bark Myrtle

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 6-50 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Summer

7. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Bay Laurel
Image by Thibault Lefort via Flickr

If you’ve ever used bay leaves for cooking, you might wonder which tree it came from. That would be the Bay Laurel, an evergreen shrub hailing from the Mediterranean.

It can grow as a dense multi-trunk shrub or single-trunk tree and has either a pyramidal or oval growth habit. Its long dark-green leaves are attractive and aromatic and contrast nicely with its pale yellow spring flowers.

While the Bay Laurel has a more notable history as a Mediterranean culinary ingredient or to make ornamental wreaths, it is also a highly appealing landscaping tree. It can be used as a screen or hedge, grows well in a container, and naturally is an excellent addition to Mediterranean gardens and herb gardens.

The Bay Laurel is extremely drought tolerant, salt tolerant, and low maintenance. It is also fairly robust but may fall victim to some pest and disease issues.

Other Common Names: Bay Tree, Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel, True Laurel

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-12 feet tall, with an 8-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Help Your Garden Thrive in The Hottest Time of The Year

Dealing with drought-stricken land can be stressful, but your property and gardens don’t have to suffer. As long as you choose species carefully you can ensure that your trees will survive through every dry season.

Extra steps, such as mulching to retain moisture in the soil, can also be done to mitigate the worst effects of drought periods and extend your tree’s tolerance.

For more useful landscaping trees, check out our favorite fast-growing trees and shade trees for zone 10.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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