Our climate is now more prone to periods of drought during both early spring and summer. This can mean that dry areas of the garden are becoming drier, or that some areas need constant watering which is not sustainable in the long term. Some gardens in the south and east of the country may need plants which are more adapted to drought and which will survive with no or minimal watering.
The plants and shrubs listed here are more drought tolerant varieties which will thrive in dry soils. Watering cannot be eliminated completely, but many will survive weeks of dry weather before becoming fatigued.
When should you water?
Watering can become essential if the plant shows signs of stress, which are withering leaves, wilting, leaf drop, browning the the leaves which become dull and the plants look tired. When this happens, water to the roots and if the hot sunny weather is continuing, watering in the morning or evening when it is cooler reduces water evaporation. Early in the season, lay a mulch over the border to help retain moisture.
Drought-resistant plants and shrubs are amongst some of the most colourful and attractive garden plants, and there are lots to choose from. There are so many lovely plants illustrated below, having a dry border is definitely an asset to any garden. It is also a benefit to bees, as many of the plants below are visited by bees and pollinators.
Tips on Gardening for Drought conditions
In 2022, during our severe drought, the RHS did a survey to find out which plants suffered the most in the heatwave.
Find out what not to plant in dry areas.