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10 Drought Tolerant Plants That Don’t Need Much Water To Grow

Updated: May 12, 2022

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, British gardens, especially those in the Southern counties, will be more and more seriously affected by climate change in the future. Gardeners are being encouraged to make changes now to turn their beloved plots into a landscape that is better able to withstand higher temperatures and periods of drought.

Drought Tolerant Gardening

Actions such as switching grass for gravel, adding organic matter to the soil and removing weeds regularly to stop them from depriving other plants of water can all help. As can keep your hosepipe in good working order by adding hosepipe attachments to stop kinks and keep the water flowing through it correctly.

However, a key way to ensure that your garden looks lovely even when the rain seems reluctant to fall is to switch to drought-tolerant plants. Always follow care instructions carefully for this type of plant, as too much water or too frequent watering can harm them, rather than help them to thrive.

Here are 10 top drought tolerant performers for every section of your garden:

  • Allium: This tough and versatile plant is well-known for being drought tolerant. It flowers profusely in the summer months. Balls of purple flowers add lovely Mediterranean interest to any border or herb garden. Alliums like being out in the full sun, making them ideal for a garden being adapted for climate change.

  • Buddleia: this fragrant, stunning shrub not only attracts bees, butterflies and other insects to your garden, but it can also withstand drought conditions and poor growing conditions. A firm favourite, this plant will add colour and interest to any garden.

  • Eucalyptus: This Australian tree was born to drought tolerant conditions. It sheds mature leaves and twigs it no longer needs to help preserve water supplies and get them to where they are needed most. Exceptionally durable, eucalyptus trees have been known to survive fires and extreme weather conditions.

  • Evening Primrose: As the name suggests, this drought-tolerant plant opens its petals at dusk, when temperatures tend to be much cooler. They close again when the sun reappears. It grows in almost any type of soil, except where there is poor drainage. Evening primrose can be planted in sunny or shady spots for maximum versatility.

  • Lavender: This beloved herb has a distinctive fragrance and tall, attractive stems covered in violet flowers that stand out on any border. Lavender returns year after year to provide low edging and stunning filler foliage that does not need frequent watering or even very close attention.

  • Lupin: Lupins hail originally from the sand dunes of California America, so dry soil is in their ‘blood’. They are quite short-lived, but self-sow easily enough, meaning that their beauty can be appreciated for longer, even at the height of a rain-free summer. They thrive well in gravel too.

  • Rock Rose: Many gardeners are put off growing roses due to the higher levels of watering that some varieties require. However, all is not lost for fans of the quintessentially British floral beauty. Rock roses are incredibly drought tolerant plants and can grow rapidly in all sorts of less-than-ideal conditions. They spread out too, resulting in a pretty, pink carpet of rose petals.

  • Poppy: forever linked in people’s minds with wartime sacrifice, the humble poppy is a real trooper in a garden setting with less available water. Some varieties such as the California poppy and tree poppy thrive under drought conditions, while others preserve water and energy by dying back over the summer months, ready to remerge when the autumn and winter rain returns.

  • Rosemary: not only does rosemary survive in dry soil, it actively requires it, as prolonged wetter conditions can lead to root rot. Rosemary is commonly used in cooking and smells amazing when cut or left to grow. Water once a week in summer only (every fortnight in spring and autumn and never in winter) and allow the pot to drain and the soil to dry completely between each time.

  • Spanish Broom: this cheerful, deciduous plant displays bright yellow blooms against rich, dark green stalks to add interest later in the season. Not only does it cope with being planted in poor soil, it positively thrives in dry, exposed locations.

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