Floral & Hardy’s Top Ten Drought-Tolerant Plants
Following yesterday’s article, and to help your garden cope with the hosepipe ban and our seemingly changing climate, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite drought-tolerant plants:
1. Abelia grandiflora
– a large, easy-to-look-after, semi-evergreen shrub – properly tended it can reach heights of 1.8 metres and will bear glossy, deep green leaves and masses of fragrant, pale pink-flushed white bell flowers all summer long.
2. Acacia dealbata
– ‘Mimosa’ – a small, evergreen tree with scented, fluffy, ball-shaped yellow flowers, providing a cheerful splash of colour in the garden from January to April when there is not much else in flower. It also has pretty, glaucous, feathery foliage and will reach an eventual height of about 15 metres.
3. Cordyline australis
– ‘Cabbage Palm’ – a branched, evergreen tree with bold, sword-shaped leaves of green, purple or variegated with yellow and, in summer, dramatic, scented white flowers, lending an exotic feel to the garden. It can grow to about 10 metres tall eventually.
4. Cortaderia selloana
– ‘Pampas Grass’ – forms a large clump of narrow, white-edged leaves from which stunning, silvery plumes up to 2 metres tall appear in summer. Just be careful when tidying up the plant as the leaves can be quite sharp.
5. Eccremocarpus scaber
– it’s not called ‘Chilean Glory Vine’ for nothing, as it bears masses of clusters of yellow, orange or red, tubular flowers from late spring to early autumn. It will scramble over fences, walls and other plants too, to provide vibrant colour throughout the summer. It used to be considered an annual, but in sheltered gardens it will survive the winter and self-seed freely.
– otherwise known as ‘Globe Thistle’, due to its spherical purple-blue flower heads and thistle-like foliage, this perennial is a species native to Africa’s tropical regions and parts of central Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent, and has therefore had the time and experience to negotiate extreme weather conditions such as drought.
– a striking perennial species with a shrubby form, evergreen glaucous foliage and conspicuous sulphur yellow bracts in spring. Special care should be taken though when working around the plant to avoid their poisonous and caustic sap.
8. Fatsia japonica
– keeps appearing in our articles, and not only because of its aesthetic, structural appeal – it is also one of the most durable evergreen species you can cultivate here in England. It has eight-lobed leaf formations, large, creamy-white, candlebra-like blooms between autumn and winter, followed by deep plum-coloured berries in late winter and can get up to 2.5 metres tall.
– a range of versatile, evergreen shrubs of varying sizes and degrees of hardiness with white, pink, lilac or purple flowers in summer. There’s one to suit most situations and they are all pretty drought tolerant and easy to look after.
10. Common Lavender
– actually flourishes in dry environments and so is ideally suited to this short list. With its scented purple, pink or white flowers and evergreen foliage, it’s an essential in any cottage garden scheme. Definitely avoid the use of this in humid environments, as this species is prone to root rot in the damp, most fertilisers should also be avoided. In fact the only maintenance really required is good air circulation, a sand based soil and a light trim over after flowering to keep its shape.
If you can’t find anything you like amongst the above, there are things you can look for to gauge how drought-tolerant a plant might be:
• Silver or grey leaves reflect sunlight and heat away from the plant
• Some plants have furry leaves or leaves with fine hairs which can trap moisture and keep it close to the plant
• Succulent leaves store water to cope with periods of drought
• The size of leaf is an indicator too as smaller, narrow leaves lose less water to evaporation
Most drought-tolerant plants will appreciate a sheltered, sunny position in the garden. Do remember though, that no plant can survive with no water, especially straight after planting, so make sure you water well until it is established.
By Josh Ellison