It is becoming more important to grow drought resistant plants in a UK garden because the UK experiences periods of dry weather and drought as a result of climate change. Drought resistant plants are able to survive and thrive in dry conditions, which means they require less water and maintenance compared to other plants.
This can help conserve water, reduce water bills, and create a more sustainable garden – especially if this year brings another hose pipe ban. Additionally, drought resistant plants tend to have deep roots, which can help improve soil quality and prevent erosion. By growing drought resistant plants in your garden, you can create a beautiful and low-maintenance landscape that is better adapted to the UK's changing climate.
However, it is not recommended to instantly convert your garden to a dry landscape full of plants that thrive without much water – this is the UK after all and before you know it there will be a very wet spell which will result in your plants rotting and dying. A good mix is the best idea to create interest in your garden whatever the season and weather.
Some of the best drought-resistant plants to grow in UK gardens include:
1. Lavender - this fragrant plant is known for its drought-tolerant properties and can thrive in hot, dry conditions – and bees love it too!
2. Sedum - a succulent plant that can store water in its leaves and requires little watering. Sedums enjoy full sun but will tolerate some shade. It is best to plant in full sun to improve overwintering capability. Sedums grow well in poor or sandy soil, but it's important to have well-drained soil to avoid fungal diseases.
3. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - this hardy plant is drought tolerant and can survive in poor soil conditions. You can grow yarrow in flower beds or an herb garden, and it is hugely popular with pollinators. Yarrow care is so easy that the plant is virtually care-free 4. Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus) – is a fragrant herb that is drought resistant and can thrive in hot, dry conditions. A shrub with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. Rosemary leaves are used as a flavouring in foods, such as stuffing and roast lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey.
5. Sage - a hardy herb that is drought tolerant and can survive in poor soil conditions. An easy-to-grow shrubby plant with aromatic, evergreen leaves that are often soft and downy. It also produces pretty flowers in mid- to late summer.
6. Echinacea (coneflower) - a hardy perennial plant that is drought resistant and can thrive in hot, dry conditions. It is easy to grow, these bold, tough perennials are increasingly popular in gardens. It flowers in late summer and combines well with other late perennials and grasses. The flowers are loved by bees and butterflies.
7. Agapanthus (also known as Lily of the Nile, or African lily in the UK ) - a beautiful flowering plant that is drought tolerant and can survive in poor soil conditions – bought as a bulb.
8. Geranium – not the summer bedding plant version but the Winter hardy plant that is drought resistant and can thrive in hot, dry conditions.
9. Daylilies (Hemerocallis) - a beautiful flowering plant that is drought resistant and can thrive in hot, dry conditions.
10. Calendula. If you are looking for a bright colour that draws the eye in a dry garden this is ideal. It is incredibly tolerant of lower temperatures and drought and is self-seeding to create a wonderful design of yellow to orange blooms.
Grasses are also a good addition to a drought prone sunny garden – providing movement and height to a border.
Practical things to do before planting.
Plant any silver leaved, less hardy, sun loving varieties in April to give them the opportunity establish their roots well before winter.
Add organic matter to the soil before planting a this will improve both water availability and drainage, but do not add fertiliser, as this can encourage too much lush growth which may flop in summer, require extra watering, and be affected by frost in the winter.
Use mulches to retain moisture in the soil.
If you have had any great successes with drought resistant and tolerant planting do please let us know so we can share with other Guildford in Bloom followers.
Of course, another eco-friendly thing to do in your garden is have a water butt to save water during rainy days to water those plants that need it – even if there is a hosepipe ban.