Drought tolerant plants

Whether it be climate change, local conditions or just an unusually dry year drought tolerant plants are an important consideration when planing any new garden. These plants that resist the urge to give up during dry conditions save water and can often be low maintenance as well.

Some plants genuinely use less water, others have ways of storing water, both types have their uses in the UK garden. The concept that drought tolerant plants have grey foliage is a little dated, some do but this is really a coincidence.

When looking for plants that cope well in dry conditions it is a matter of looking at the natural habitat, plants that cope with drought are usually from dry areas. If we look at plants from South Africa and Australia we can find a range of plants that suit the needs for dry gardens, however the USA and Middle East also provide some excellent specimens as does China.

The other aspect of this is that many garden plants that we use as a matter of course cope well with dry conditions. Clivia, epimediums, conifers, salvias and succulents such as sedums, aloes and agaves all do well in dry conditions.

Drought tolerant plant varieties

For trees and shrubs it is difficult to go past the Eucalypts, Callistomens and Banksias, Waratahs are another. But what about Arbutus, the so called 'Irish Strawberry' this is actually from the mediteranean and does well in dry conditions. Talking about the mediteranian plants, rosemary, thyme, sage all do well in dry conditions, and roses are a lot tougher than what we think as well.

The perennials including salvias, agastache, Achillea, Androsace, Armeria, Geranium, Helianthum, Phlox, Sedum and Sempervivum and all do well

When it comes to bulbs, so many of the South African bulbs do well in dry conditions, as we mentioned, clivias, but what about haemanthus, neurones and some of the more unusual types such as Boophone. Tulips and daffodils are also pretty good in a dry summer, they are dormant and do not need water in summer.

So what requirements to these drought tolerant plants have ?
Usually very good drainage for a start, some require a little more warmth than we can provide in the UK winter, but others do well especially with some protection from frosts.

John Allman 

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