choosing drought tolerant plants

As our climate changes, it’s more important than ever to think about ways that we can create a thriving and colourful garden without having to water regularly.

Xeriscaping is the term given to designing a garden that works in dry conditions, and does not require any additional watering than nature provides itself. This eco-friendly method of gardening is great for reducing your water usage, and uses water retentive plants to bring colour and life to your patch.

Tips for Water Saving

Firstly, take sensible steps to ensure that the ground is sufficiently water retentive – dig in some good mulch to help the soil absorb and retain as much H2O as it can. Also, keeping on top of your weeds will stop valuable water being soaked up by the competition.

Invest in a water butt if you don’t already have one. And make sure to purchase a few watering cans, so that you can fill them up regularly. Do fill them up and leave them out to warm up in the sun – this removes the harmful chlorine from the water.

If you’re very concerned about your plants drying out, or you want to continue growing flowers that are not drought tolerant, then recycle your bath water on to your plants. This is simple to do, and a piece of time-honored wisdom that has been passed down the generations.

Choosing Drought Tolerant Plants

Perennial flowers like Dianthus, Gaura, Thyme, Lavender and Veronica all do well without much water – look to Southern Europe for ideas on beauties to plant out.

Cabbages, leeks, carrots and parsnips are all good in a drought – they do not require a great deal of attention or watering, and will produce well with very little.

Most plants don’t need nearly as much water as we have the habit of giving them in the UK. Herbs and vegetables might benefit from a good soak when you plant them, but their flavour is enhanced when you reduce the amount of water you give them.

Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Berkheya purpurea
  • Wild Marjoram
  • Greater Knapweed
  • Agapanthus
  • Euphorbia
  • Viper’s Bugloss
  • Gazania 'Christopher Lloyd'
  • Plectranthus argentatus ‘Silver Shields’

There are so many other possible front runners – Rosa x odorata 'Mutabilis’, Rosa moyesii 'Geranium’ (flowers followed by decorative hips), the exceptionally long-flowering annuals such as Cosmos 'Dazzler’ and Cosmos 'Antiquity’, Helianthus 'Vanilla Ice’, as well as cleomes and verbenas such as Verbena bonariensis, Verbena rigida and 'Aztec Violet’. Dahlias also thrive in the heat and come in a wonderful array of shapes, sizes and colours.

Of course, fortunately a number of these plants are also brilliant plants to attract bees – so not only will you save the water supply, but you’ll also be helping your local pollinators.