Climate change has resulted in the U.K. experiencing extremes of weather patterns. One of these is extreme drought which makes it difficult for many plants to thrive. Therefore, if you live somewhere that doesn’t get much rain, or you’re growing plants in containers and unable to water them regularly, it’s ideal to look for those that have adapted to need less water in order to thrive. Here is a selection of drought tolerant plants for different situations in the garden:

Generally, silver leaved plants cope well by reflecting the sun, as do plants with hairy leaves as that enables the leaf to trap moisture.

Choose plants in smaller containers as they will have the opportunity to slowly adapt to their dry surroundings as they grow.

To help the plants establish, water them well when planted and then add a mulch around the base as this will help retain moisture.

Acacia dealbata (mimosa tree)

First up is an evergreen large shrub/small tree with feathery finely divided silver grey leaves. It also has beautiful yellow scented flowers in late winter and early spring. As it grows it naturally leans forward which adds to its overall charm.

  • Flowers in late winter and early spring
  • Half hardy – needs protection in winter
  • Grows to 15m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered

Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan palm)

If you want to create a tropical look in your garden this evergreen hardy palm will cope well with most temperatures, although it dislikes hard frosts. Its dark green leaves are fan-shaped and grow up to 1m wide. The fibre covered trunk makes it an easy tree to recognise. Especially during the summer months, because established trees produce sprays of light yellow, small flowers.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 12m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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Santolina chamaecyparissus (cotton lavender)

Next is an evergreen shrub that has a wonderful, architectural, loosely mounded shape with finely dissected grey-white leaves. The foliage gives off a refreshing aromatic aroma when crushed. During the summer months they produce small, button shape, bright yellow flowers. This plant looks fantastic growing in a gravel garden or cascading over a low wall.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Well drained or moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) ‘Fire Power’

These elegant evergreen shrubs bring a touch of the exotic to the flower border with their bamboo like leaves. What’s more, the leaves develop a purplish tinge when young and on the older leaves during the winter months. During summer, they produce sprays of dainty white flowers and older shrubs develop bright red berries during the winter months. Overall it’s a great hardy shrub for year round interest.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy but may need winter protection
  • Grows to 60cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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Jasminum officinale (jasmine)

This is another great plant for a sheltered garden where the scent from the small but highly scented white flowers can be really appreciated. It grows well when planted against a warm, south-facing wall. Pruning it hard in autumn will stop it becoming rampant, but this will reduce its flowering the following year. So, if you’re happy to have it growing in abundance, leave it unpruned.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy but may need winter protection
  • Grows to 8m tall
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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Heuchera (coral bells) ‘Obsidian’

There are many different coloured leaved varieties of these tough, mainly evergreen plants. ‘Obsidian’ delights with its lustrous maroon-black leaves, whose colour becomes even more intense as the year progresses. It produces delightful sprays of creamy white flowers during high summer and also makes great ground cover plants for front of border.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 2m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed
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Echinacea (coneflower) ‘Tomato Soup’

Like heuchera there are many varieties available to choose from. This relatively newly introduced cultivar has bright orange flowers that change to bright red as they age. It flowers for a long-time starting midsummer, especially if the spent flowers are removed as they start to fade.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 1m
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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Nepeta (catnip) ‘Walkers Low’

Last is another drought tolerant plant with silver grey aromatic leaves that grows well in a sunny border. Long flowering with attractive lilac-blue flowers, cutting the plant back after first flush of flowers will produce a new set which will flower well into the autumn before dying down for the winter. Fantastic planted as path edging, this variety is shorter than the well-known ‘Six Hills Giant’, making it useful for the smaller garden.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed
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If you’re opting for a low maintenance garden or just want to incorporate drought tolerant plants in your garden, these top ten plants are a great place to start. In no time, you’ll have a garden bursting with flowers and foliage that won’t demand gallons of water to thrive.

Find out more about adding texture to your garden:

Adding texture

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Pinterest