Drought-Tolerant Gardening

As we approach summer, we are reminded of the incredibly warm, dry weather of summer 2022. And, as our summers stay drier and water becomes a more precious resource than ever before, drought-tolerant gardening is becoming increasingly important to many gardeners.

Luckily, some plants grow naturally in dry environments, and many are not only beautiful but easy to grow, too.

Cistus x Pulverulentus ‘Sunset’

‘Sunset’ is a low spreading rose with wavy, grey-green leaves and clusters of yellow-centred pink flowers. It grows well in poor soils, including chalk, sand and clay, and loves to be in the full sun. It’s also an evergreen, and easy to find in most nurseries and garden centres!

drought tolerant gardening

Yucca Filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

This yucca plant forms a stemless, evergreen rosette and features slender foliage with a broad yellow central stripe running the length of each leaf. The result is dramatic, and enhanced by large white bell-shaped flowers in July and August.

It grows well in any well-drained soil and loves the full sun.

drought tolerant gardening

Fremontodendron ‘California Glory’

‘California Glory’ is a large, vigorous evergreen shrub that grows up to six metres high, with rounded, three-lobed dark green leaves and bright yellow flowers from late Spring to early Autumn.

Derived from a cross between a Californian and Mexican species, it is the classic evergreen for a sunny south-facing wall and known for its ability to cope with dry soil and drought.

drought tolerant gardening

x Halimiocistus Sahucii

This plant is a hybrid between two drought restistant Mediterranean shrubs, Cistus and Halimium. It was discovered growing wild in France a century ago, resulting in a low, unexpectedly hardy, narrow-leaved, spreading evergreen with a long succession of golden-centred, pure white flowers from May to September.

drought tolerant gardening

Helichrysum Petiolare ‘Limelight’

Mostly used in containers, this plant’s spreading habit and soft chartreuse foliage makes it very appealing to gardeners. It needs dry conditions to get through the winter, so under an overhanging south-facing bay window is ideal.

It has long stems bearing broad, ovate to rounded, lime green, woolly leaves and lax sprays of cream flower-heads. It is often used in hanging baskets as it trails beautifully, and grows well in full sun.

drought tolerant gardening

Lupinus Arboreus

Originally from the Californian sand dunes, this plant can cope with dry soil. Its broad, mound-forming evergreen stems feature neatly lobed leaves and tall spikes of fragrant, two-tone yellow flowers. It usually self-sows, especially in gravel.

It grows well in well-drained, sandy soil, and looks its best in the full sun, but can be grown in partial shade. It is ideal for coastal gardens or mild climates, but will need shelter in prolonged frost.

Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’

‘Blue Spire’ has upright stems lined with prettily divided silver foliage. Its numerous plumes of violet-blue flowers open from August onwards, and it can grow in a range of dry soils.

It is ideal for city and courtyard gardens, flower borders and beds, and grows well in gravel.

Spartium Junceum

Spanish broom bears many fragrant bright yellow flowers from August into autumn. Though deciduous, its bright green stems give it a colourful look even throughout winter. It thrives in poor conditions, and the best-looking specimens are usually in dry, exposed locations.

It grows well in sand and clay, but can struggle through frost and British winters.

Lavendula Angustifolia ‘Miss Muffet’

This is a reliable, neat and compact plant with narrow greyish-green leaves. Its impressively prolific spikes of violet-blue flowers sit low over the foliage in the summer. English lavender makes fine low edging that has a powerful aroma.

It prefers a well-drained neutral to alkaline soil, but can tolerate acidic conditions. In heavy soil, improve drainage as lavender does not tolerate waterlogging – making it a perfect drought-hardy plant!

Ulex Europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’

This gorse flowers in almost every month of the year, with its main display of rich yellow flowers appearing in the spring. It grows well in acidic soil with all-day sunshine.

It is a compact, almost leafless, bushy shrub with very spiny green stems and plentiful clusters of fragrant flowers, looking great in cottage gardens and flower borders.

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