Top 10 Drought Tolerant Plants

If you'd rather be prepared for the hot temperatures and would like a garden that not only looks good in the heat, it will have fragrance, be useful to wildlife and will also be very low maintenance, then we've put together a top ten list of plants we recommend as being perfect for a drought stricken garden.!

Top 10 Drought Tolerant Plants

If you'd rather be prepared for the hot temperatures and would like a garden that not only looks good in the heat, it will have fragrance, be useful to wildlife and will also be very low maintenance, then we've put together a top ten list of plants we recommend as being perfect for a drought stricken garden.

Top 10 Drought Tolerant Plants

There's no denying that we have an extremely unpredictable weather system here in the UK. Not so many years ago, British summertime was laughingly typified with an umbrella and wellington boots, in recent years however, this has certainly taken a dramatic turn towards hot weather!

Having recently experienced the longest and hottest dry spell for the past 42 years, our poor gardens have been struggling to stay looking healthy. Lawns have turned from lush green to the colour of ripe wheat and without copious watering, many well loved plants would cease to be!

There are, however, a group of plants that not only tolerate these hot, dry spells, they actually thrive in them. Some may have their origins in arid parts of the world, whilst others have evolved to store liquid in their fleshy leaves to use when times are hard.

If you'd rather be prepared for the hot temperatures and would like a garden that not only looks good in the heat, it will have fragrance, be useful to wildlife and will also be very low maintenance, then we've put together a top ten list of plants we recommend as being perfect for a drought stricken garden..


1. Lavender

Probably the most well known and best loved drought tolerant plant that has everything going for it! Lavenders are literally the ultimate drought tolerant plant. With silver/green foliage that grows readily in almost any soil type, this hardy shrub can withstand high temperatures with no ill effects and will still produce thin stems with the beautiful and heavily scented flowers at the tip. Lavenders such as 'Hidcote' and 'Munstead' are extremely popular and are even used for low hedging as they are so easy to grow and keep. Don't forget that these super drought tolerant plants are also a absolute favourite of or butterflies and bees too!


2. Eryngium planum 'Blue Hobbit'

Eryngium, or Sea Holly is a very useful perennial for its ability to cope with hot, dry conditions and coastal locations. Eryngium 'Blue Hobbit' produces dramatic cones of tiny blue flowers that are surrounded by a spiky, electric-blue collar. The flower stems bring fabulous texture to sunny borders, and are prized by flower arrangers for adding to summer bouquets, either fresh or as a dried flower. Loved by pollinating insects, Eryngium makes a useful addition to a wildlife garden, or for filling gaps in cottage garden borders. Being of a shorter stature too, 'Blue Hobbit' is a perfect contender for planting in patio containers where they will soak up the heat ad produce magnificent sprays of up to 100 flowers! Sedum is a magnet for butterflies in the garden; and is reliable, hardy and always colourful! Sedums tend to form a clump, with drought tolerant, fleshy foliage, and pink autumn blooms.


3. Cistus x pulverulentus 'Sunset'

From June to August the bright pink, tissue-paper blooms of this stunning cistus are borne in abundance, each lasting just a day, before a new bloom opens to take its place. The grey-green wavy edged foliage is evergreen, provides good year round interest and the perfect backdrop for the flowers. Commonly known as the Rock Rose or Sun Rose, this low growing shrub is a 'must-have' for hot, sunny borders and gravel gardens. Cistus x pulverulentus 'Sunset' enjoys poor, dry soils where many plants would struggle, and copes well in coastal positions, making it an easy choice for some brighter colours in the garden.


4. Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop'

Like its parents, Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop' boasts the same tight clusters of floating purple flowers, but has short, compact stems that reach only half the height. The thin leaves and strong, almost wiry stalks mean that it's a great plant for dry and sunny borders as it will lose little moisture through them. Well shaped, uniform plants with an open airy habit attract butterflies to their glowing lavender blooms from June to September. This fabulous hardy dwarf verbena is perfectly proportioned for patio pots and the front of borders where it creates a wonderful delicate airy effect.


5. Pennisetum alopecuroides

.Fountain Grass is a highly decorative ornamental grass and is a plant which gives almost all year round interest in the garden. It is a low-maintenance plant, which quickly forms a clump, so is ideal for filling gaps in perennial and shrub borders. The grassy foliage is neat, but stays quite inconspicuous until the flower heads appear during late summer. But, once they appear, they really dazzle, with spikelet's looking much like a fluffy squirrel's tail! Leave the decorative seedheads on your Fountain Grass plants into the autumn for extended interest.


6. Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'

Russian Sage is another scented, drought tolerant perennial that is very low maintenance, establishing itself in the garden quickly and is ideal for a beginner gardener too. The foliage of Perovskia is silvery and aromatic, and plants will look fantastic when planted en masse. The blue flowers combine well, and are useful for colour later in the summer. Plants of Russian Sage are loved by bees and butterflies, and 'Blue Spire' also holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit. It's smaller cousin Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire' has all the same characteristics but is a scaled down version - only going to half the height (approx 2 feet), making it the ideal variety to grow in a container!


7. Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge'

Grown for its majestic foliage and showy summer flowers, this hardy, evergreen provides colour and structure in the garden. Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge' is aptly named for its upright, sword-shaped, dark green leaves, each edged with a bright gold margin. From July to August, statuesque panicles of large, bell-shaped flowers rise above the foliage creating an imposing display. This cultivar makes a handsome, clump-forming shrub for sunny borders, with good drought resistance once established. Equally useful as an evergreen container plant creating a year-round focal point in the garden. .


8. Osteospermum

Versatile and resilient, hardy Osteospermums will thrive in hot, dry, neglected conditions, yet remain some of longest-flowering plants in the garden! Expect long lasting, vibrant summer colour and weed suppressing ground cover from these easy to grow, sun loving African Daisies. A real stalwart of summer gardens, extremely low maintenance and yet the stunning displays are truly amazing


9. Sedum 'Sunsparkler'

Recently introduced from American breeding, the 'Sunsparkler' series is already making a name for itself. These showy little Stonecrops have been selected for their fabulous leaf colour, neat growth habit and large, showy flower heads. The low, spreading stems of these colourful succulents form dense cushions of foliage that make perfect groundcover in alpine gardens and rockeries, or for softening the edges of paths. Try planting them in troughs and containers - they make a colourful centrepiece for the patio table. These almost indestructible plants will virtually grow anywhere and sedums have even been used on rooftops to provide a living "green" roof covering.


10. Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold'

Finally a splash of sunshine colour to add to the list, One of the very best herbaceous perennials for a mixed border, Achillea is easy to grow and a low maintenance plant. 'Coronation Gold' is a popular variety, which has flat heads of golden-yellow flowers over a long summer period. Achillea loves a hot, sunny border and will add colour to your summer garden for a minimum of effort. The flower heads are incredibly eye-catching and plants are quick to establish, filling a gap in the border.


Graham Ward

Written by: Graham Ward

I've been gardening for as long as I can remember, my earliest memory being planting seeds in my Grandfather's prestige flower bed and having a prize lettuce growing there, which he proudly left to show everyone. Since then, gaining knowledge and experience from both my Grandfather and my Father, I've continued to garden, both as a hobby and later on as a professional gardener and landscaper for 12 years. I love all aspects of it, from the design and build, to the planting out of summer borders with plants you've either grown from seed or raised from plugs. Unusual varieties always catch my eye and I'm keen to try growing them, even if sometimes it means learning from my mistakes.

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