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.


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Listen to Sarah and Arthur's top tips for growing a drought tolerant garden


drought tolerant varieties

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:

There are so many other possible front runners – 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.


Tips for Water Saving

  • Water first thing in the morning before the heat of the sun has taken hold or in the evening after sunset
  • To avoid wasting water and time fill a wheelbarrow or large container with some water and place your pots inside for a few hours whilst the temperature is cool
  • Keeping on top of your weeds will stop valuable water being soaked up by the competition
  • Avoid using a hosepipe and sprinkler (especially in the case of a hosepipe ban!), you should be able to keep your gardens hydrated without. It also isn't necessary to water your lawn, they are incredibly resilient, so will grow back after some decent rainfall
  • Train your pots to drink less or plant in larger pots that will retain moisture better
  • 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
  • The most important thing is to plan ahead and 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