- Drought-Tolerant Plants for Shade
- Top 10 Drought-tolerant Plants You Should Grow
- Before you start…
- Drought Tolerant Perennials That Bloom All Summer
- 15 Best Options for Long-Blooming & Drought-Tolerant Perennials
- Is it fun in the hot sun?
- Is hot weather a good thing for plants and for people?
- What can you grow in the heat?
- Thinking outside of the box
- 10 plants that can cope with drought and dry conditions
- Lavender – it thrives in poor soil and hates its feet to be planted in a bog.
- Rosemary – a delightful herb that looks great, is loved by bees and can be used in the kitchen too.
- Thyme gives you a wonderful carpet with tiny aromatic leaves and its happy in a drought.
- Marjoram, also known as oregano. There are dozens of varieties of Origanum, including some lime green and yellow foliage plants, all with pink or whitish flowers which are loved by beneficial insects.
- Chamomile, with its pretty white flowers and self-seeding habit. If you want a non-flowering Chamomile lawn effect, go for
- Stachys byzantina, known as lambs ears. These are tactile because the foliage feels furry – and the plant just loves dry conditions.
- Achillea, otherwise known as yarrow, is a great group of perennials with attractive umbel flowers which come in a delightful range of colours from warm terracotta through to white.
- Russian sage, Perovskia Blue Spire is a great plant for dry spaces, giving a lavender-like sea of blue flowers at waist-height.
- Kniphofia, otherwise known as red hot pokers. They even look like fiery torches and thrive in dry, free-draining, sunny sites.
- Phlomis, or Jerusalem sage, has soft, hairy leaves and whorls of flowers which can give structural form all through the winter too.
Drought-Tolerant Plants for Shade
Water-wise gardening conserves water and helps protect the environment. A xeriscape is a “dry scene” that uses very little water, but a water-wise garden includes any style that is designed to conserve water.
- “Tough” plants grow well in our climate, do not require frequent care, are attractive in the home landscape, and are generally available at local nurseries.
- “Water-wise” plants — once established in adequate soil — perform well with one inch of water per month or less (perhaps more in 90-degree temperatures and when younger).
- Full sun: 6 or more hours of direct sun
- Light shade/part sun: about 4 hours of direct sun, a short-term opening to the sky or low sun early or late in the day
- Filtered light or dappled shade: in irregular shadows of thin-leafed or tall, open trees; about ½ the sky shows through the canopy
- Open shade: fully exposed to sky but with little direct sun, such as on the north side of buildings
- Deep shade: under dense-leafed trees with less than ¼ of the sky showing through the canopy
- Trees that leaf out early: aspen, birch, willow, maple
- Trees that leaf out later: oak, chestnut, sweet gum, beech, tupelo, catalpa, ash, elm
|Plant Name||Shade Type||Resist Deer?||Notes|
|Pieris japonica—lily-of-the valley shrub||light, dappled||very good|
|Euonymus japonica and E. fortunei||light, dappled||fair|
|Ilex crenata – Japanese holly||light||fair|
|Choisya ternata – Mexican orange||light, dappled||good||‘Sundance’ variety needs full sun|
|Skimmia||open, deep, dappled||very good|
|Kerria japonica –Kerria rose||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||fewer flowers with more shade|
|Myrica californica –Pacific wax myrtle||light, open, dappled, deep||very good|
|Holodiscus – ocean spray||light, dappled||very good|
|Gaultheria shallon – salal light||open, dappled, deep||very good|
|Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon grape||light, open, dappled, deep||very good|
|Mahonia x media– Japanese mahonia, ‘Charity’, ‘Arthur Menzies’, ‘Winter Sun’||light, dappled||very good|
|Mahonia eurybracteata ssp. ganpinensis ‘Soft Touch’||light, open, dappled||very good||2013 Plant of the Year at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show|
|Sarcococca – sweet box||dappled, open, deep||very good||some morning sun OK|
|Ribes: R. sanguineum – red currant||dappled, light, open||good|
|Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’– coast silk tassel||light, dappled||fair||G. fremontii—Fremont silk tassel is smaller, hardier|
|Hypericum– shrubby St. John’s wort||light, dappled||???|
|Rhamnus californica– coffeeberry||light, dappled||good||needs decent drainage|
|Daphne odora; D. × transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice’||light, open, dappled||very good||like all daphne, needs very good drainage & non-acid, porous soil (pH of 7.0 for odora); light shade only for ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice’|
|Symphoricarpos – snowberry, coralberry||light, dappled||good/fair|
|Viburnums: V. tinus ‘Spring Bouquet’, V. davidii, V. opulus, V. acerifolium||light, dappled||good||V. davidii also does well in open shade|
|Elaeagnus × ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ –variegated silverberry||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||needs decent drainage|
|Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’||light||good||needs excellent drainage, unamended soil, good air circulation|
|Calycanthus—Carolina allspice, sweetshrub||light, dappled||flowers larger on named hybrids of Chinese, floridus, others|
|Buxus sempervirens– common boxwood||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||try it unclipped for a dense but soft look|
|Osmanthus: O. delayvi, O. x burkwoodii–sweet olive; O. heterophyllus– false holly||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||varied sizes and leaf types, can be clipped, most also like full sun– sweet olive have spring bloom; false holly (heterophyllus) in fall|
|Ruscus aculeatum –butcher’s broom||light, open, dappled, deep||?? but prickly||what look like leaves are actually flattened shoots; needs decent drainage; most cultivated varieties are self-fruiting|
|Plant Name||Shade Type||Resist Deer?||Notes|
|Brunnera macrophylla – Siberian bugloss||light, dappled, open||good|
|Acanthus mollis, A. spinosus – bear’s breeches||light, dappled||very good||A. spinosus is more compact|
|Bergenia cordifolia, B. ciliata||dappled, open, deep||good|
|Heuchera – coral bells||light, dappled||fair|
|Digitalis – foxglove||light, dappled||fair|
|Dicentra formosa – native bleeding heart||light, open, dappled||good||goes dormant early without a bit of summer water|
|Smilacina racemosa–false Solomon’s seal||light, open, dappled, deep||good||red berries; drought tolerant in humus-rich soil|
|Polystichum: P. munitum— sword fern, P. setiferum— soft shield/Alaskan ferns, P. acrostichoides—Christmas fern, P. tsus-simense– Korean Rock Fern||light, open, deep, dappled||very good||evergreen; drought tolerant staples in the shade garden|
|Dryopteris filix-mas – male fern||light, open, deep, dappled||very good|
|Blechnum spicant—deer fern||light, open, deep, dappled||very good|
|Athyrium – lady fern ‘Ghost’, ‘Japanese Painted’||dappled, open, deep||very good||not all lady ferns are drought tolerant|
|Pulmonaria–lungwort||light, open, dappled||good||good monthly water in summer, cut back right after bloom to curb powdery mildew|
|Hosta—plantain lily||open, dappled, deep||no||more drought tolerant with good soil and more shade|
|Fuchsia—hardy fuchsia||light, open, dappled||fair|
|Disporopsis pernya— evergreen Solomon’s seal||light, open, deep, dappled||very good||well-behaved clumping habit|
|Hellebores: H. orientalis— Lenten rose, H. foetidus— stinking hellebore, H. argutifolius—Corsican hellebore, H. lividus— Majorcan hellebore||light, open, dappled||very good||H. niger, the Christmas rose, needs extra water. Corsican and Majorcan enjoy some sun|
|Anemone japonica— Japanese anemone, A. nemerosa—wood anemone||light, open, dappled||ate the flowers, not leaves||withhold summer water to curb Japanese anemone spread|
|Geranium macrorrhizum– big root geranium||light, dappled||may eat flowers|
|Lewisia cotyledon, L. rediviva—bitterroot||light||ate the flowers||requires excellent drainage|
|Trachystemon orientalis– Abraham, Isaac, Joseph or Oriental borage||light, open, dappled||good||self-sowing not observed, unlike common borage|
|Plant Name||Shade Type||Resist Deer?||Notes|
|Euphorbia robbiae||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||good news: spreads well under trees, makes dense groundcover bad news: rhizomes spread too well, sap is irritant|
|Cyclamen coum (winter bloom) C. hederifolium and C. mirabile (late summer)||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||plants spread as ants move the seeds about; seedlings are easy to control|
|Corydalis lutea||light, open, dappled, deep||good||plants self-sow significantly but are easy to pull; gives three-season bloom|
|Oxalis oregana—evergreen Oregon oxalis or redwood sorrel||light, open, dappled, deep||good||spreads slowly but well under trees and rhododendrons; three-season bloom; deciduous variety considered invasive|
|Vancouveria hexandra, V. chrysantha—inside-out flower||open, deep, dappled||very good||V. hexandra—white flowers, deciduous V. chrysantha—yellow flowers, evergreen Mahonia nervosa– longleaf|
|Oregon grape||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||slow-spreading|
|Liriope spicata—creeping lily turf||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||moderate spreading|
|Ophiopogon japonica— mondo grass O. planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’— black mondo grass||light, open, dappled, deep||very good||spreads better with occasional water|
|Epimedium—bishop’s hat||dappled, open||good||leaves look better with occasional water; moderate spread rate|
|Ceratostigma plumbaginoides—dwarf plumbago, deadwort||light, dappled||fair||late to leaf out, blooms better with occasional water; moderate spread rate|
|Waldsteinia ternata—barren strawberry||light, dappled||very good||a dense, evergreen weed-buster|
|Sarcococca hookerana var. humilis||open, deep, dappled||very good||
no afternoon sun; a dense, evergreen weed-buster
|Blechnum penna-marina– alpine water fern||light, open, dappled||very good||occasional water helps it spread; dense and evergreen|
|Lamium maculatum – dead nettle||open, deep, dappled||good||The unnamed L. galeobdolon variety is quite invasive; ‘Hermann’s Pride’ is the more contained variety of that type. Recommend L. maculatum, which has many calmer, named varieties with short stem length between leaves: ‘Ghost’, ‘Anne Greenway’, ‘Purple Dragon’, ‘White Nancy’, ‘Beacon Silver’, ‘Pink Chablis’|
|Cardamine trifolia—threeleaf cardamine||light, dappled||fair||well behaved, evergreen|
|Asarum caudatum –Western wild ginger||open, deep, dappled||good||requires some patience; needs a couple of years to establish before it will perform well|
You have shady areas in your lawn and garden, right? Just about every yard has some shade, but I found out that doesn’t mean that those gardens need to have bare spots. I discovered that there are many different drought-tolerant shade plants that can grow in almost any soil conditions, and many of these also display gorgeous colors, even without a lot of sunlight. There’s no reason why your whole yard can’t be overflowing with vibrant hues and beautiful textures. Fill those shadowy areas with a few of these plant varieties, and you’ll bring color and life to even the darkest garden nooks.
Photo credit: Efraimstochter /
One ideal flower for a shaded garden space is the columbine. Its beautiful blossoms have a distinctive appearance, and the flowers bloom in many different hues so you can pick the shades you like the most. Best of all, columbine is very easy to grow. It thrives in multiple soil types, and flowers even in full shade. This species is also highly drought tolerant. What columbine doesn’t like is full sunlight, so choose a garden area that receives at least partial shade before you plant it.
Columbine is a biennial, so you won’t see any blooms the first year: they’ll bloom the following year, and then every second year afterwards. These plants also grow well in containers. Plant them at least 12 inches apart, and use a little mulch around the stems to keep the soil moist in order to help them establish their root system.
Their blossoms grow with multiple petal layers, often with complementary hues. The one drawback to columbines is that they can attract bees, so it’s best to avoid planting these flowers near doorways or outdoor sitting areas. In other parts of your landscaping, however, columbines provide both color and texture in amongst low greenery. Since these flowers grow quite tall, they’re perfect for complement with ground covers. This can add multiple aesthetic levels to your shade garden.
Photo Credit: MabelAmber /
Hellebores are beautiful flowering plants and perfect for shade gardens. This species grows over 12 inches high and creates beautiful, cup-shaped flowers that look a little bit like roses. It can bloom as early as April, and in some climates it will bloom in late winter as well, making it an ideal plant to add to any garden. These plants are even considered evergreen in some growing zones, so they’re perfect for decorative winter gardens in balmier places. Hellebores thrive in shade, and they’re highly drought-tolerant once they’re well-established.
Maintain your hellebores with a light pruning in early spring, and they will continue to look beautiful all year long. This species does prefer rich soil, so be certain to fertilize it regularly so it will thrive. In late spring, this plant has a tendency to draw slugs and snails, so watch for signs of these pests if you don’t want them to decimate your plants. To fend them off, you can spread some coffee grounds around the plants’ bases, and that should help to keep the slugs and snails away. Copper is an effective repellent as well, and you can buy copper garden strips at your local gardening or home renovation center for this exact purpose.
If you do use coffee grounds, remember to reapply them after every heavy rainfall.
3. Miniature Mat Daisies
Photo credit: Pexels
What about all those little empty spaces between your plants? Consider using miniature mat daisies, or Bellium minutum, as a ground cover to fill in those gaps. This species is fairly drought-tolerant, but thrives best when it receives regular watering. It grows very well in shade, and can thrive in many different soil types, provided that the earth is well-drained. Its foliage is dense, and each plant can spread its blooms out to about 18 inches in width to give you plenty of cover. The small daisy flowers bloom from late spring all through the summer, and is a great lower-storey plant for a layered garden.
Mat daisy is a tough little plant that can withstand foot traffic well, which also makes it ideal for gardens in which children or pets like to play.
Photo credit: MichaelGaida /
Bluebells grow well beneath trees and shrubs, and these shade-loving plants will withstand drought once established. They can also grow in containers as long as they’re placed away from direct sunlight. Their flowers have a unique, bell-like appearance with leaves that curl at the ends. Bluebells actually bloom in more beautiful hues when they have plenty of shade, which makes them an excellent choice for the darker parts of your landscaping, especially beneath trees and overhangs.
Plant bluebell bulbs 3 inches deep, at least 4 inches apart. They don’t need a lot of care, so after you plant them you can pretty much leave them alone. Add a little bit of fertilizer to the soil, and make sure to water them regularly. Other than this very basic care, they basically thrive on neglect. As an added bonus, bluebells self-propagate well, so they’ll fill up thinner garden spaces quickly.
5. Spider Flowers
Photo credit: Lee_seonghak /
Spider flower (Cleome) is a highly adaptable plant that will grow pretty much anywhere, from full sunlight to shade. The purple, pink, or white flowers appear in colorful clusters, with long, spider-like stamen wisps that extend out past the blossoms. They have a very unique appearance, which makes them stand out in any garden. Use them to add beautiful pops of color to any shady spots.
One thing to note: don’t expect your spider flower plants to start blooming right away. Even though spider flower grows easily in all climats, it won’t bloom until the plant is well-established. Once they do, however, they’ll start attracting butterflies to your shade garden, which is a nice additional touch. If you’re starting it from seed, plant them about 18 inches apart. They’re self-seeding, drought tolerant, and shade resistant, so they’re a low-maintenance gardening dream.
6. Oregon Grape
Photo credit: JamesDeMers /
Oregon grape makes any shade garden a little more interesting. This beautiful plant grows rich green, spiky leaves, and bears purple-blue fruit in summertime. This species maintains its foliage all year long, and its leaves turn red during the colder months, which makes it a perfect winter garden option. Oregon grape thrives in shade, and does not do well in direct sunlight. It prefers acidic, well-drained, moist soil, whether it’s loamy, clay-rich, or sandy. It will not grow in alkaline soil.
These shrubs can grow up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, so you can get plenty of coverage from just one plant. In most climates, it will bloom in April and May, displaying bright yellow flowers. If desired, you can prune your grape plants once every spring, when suckers first form.
7. Butcher’s Broom
Photo credit: Flickr
Butcher’s broom is a tough plant that will grow even in the deepest shade, so you can place it in the darkest spots and watch it thrive. An evergreen shrub, butcher’s broom looks great year-round and grows in a spherical shape even without pruning. The flowers bloom in springtime before giving way to its signature red berries. This species grows naturally in European woodlands, and is extremely low-maintenance.
Broom grows well in a variety of soil types, including clay, chalk, sandy, and loamy. Keep the soil moist when you can, but since it’s so tough and drought-tolerant, will do well even without a lot of water. This low-maintenance plant thrives almost anywhere with little care, making it a wonderful, fuss-free garden addition.
8. Hardy Fuchsia
Photo credit: oom_endro /
Hardy fuchsia blooms all through the summer with stunning, vivid, multi-layered petals. This gorgeous, drought-tolerant plant is available in a variety of different colors, from deep reds to bright pinks and purples. There are even some marbled and two-tone hardy fuchsia flowers as well, which gives you the opportunity to add a lot of varied hues and textures to any shadowy spot. You can even grow them in containers, so if your patio is shaded most of the time, you can arrange a few different color varieties on stands or in hanging baskets around that area.
Plant hardy fuchsias 2 inches below the soil somewhere they aren’t fully exposed. They prefer well-drained, fertile, moist soils, preferably with a bit of loamy compost mixed in. Fuchsias can’t stand cold winds, so place them near trees or shrubs to provide them with a bit of much-needed shelter.
You Can Garden Anywhere and Everywhere
These stunning species prove that you don’t have to stick to the sunniest spot of your lawn to grow amazing plants. Choose your varieties wisely, and you can have flowers, shrubs, and ground covers in any (or every) part of your garden. Placing these drought-tolerant shade plants under trees and in shaded gaps allows you to bring beauty to any corner of your property, regardless of how much—or how little— sunlight it may get.
Top 10 Drought-tolerant Plants You Should Grow
If you’re on a water restriction, are trying to save water or live in a part of the country that doesn’t see much rain, then planting hardy shrubs and drought-tolerant plants could be the solution to a happier garden – and gardener! To help your outdoor space flourish we’ve selected 10 of the best low maintenance plants ideal for sowing in autumn.
Before you start…
To get the most out of your new plants it’s important to lay a foundation in your garden first. Preparing the soil, choosing the best plants for the climate where you live and remembering that, whilst these plants might need little water, they still need nurturing in the early stages when they first start to establish in your garden, will ensure a successful set up. Planting at this time of year, at the very start of autumn, will give your new plants the best chance of flourishing before summer rolls around again. Watering the plants semi-regularly in the first three months will encourage a deep root system to establish in time for the next heatwave.
This striking hardy species, also known as African lily, originates from Southern Africa and is easy to grow even in poor soil conditions. It is especially tolerant of drought thanks to its large water-storing roots. Though they need watering and feeding when first planted, once established these tough plants can withstand long dry spells with ease if positioned in a warm, sunny spot with well-drained soil. Ideal for borders thanks to their statuesque stems and upright shape, agapanthus boasts beautiful clusters of tubular flowers in dreamy shades of pale blue, cream and lilac.
Tip: There are pockets of Australia where agapanthus is considered to be a weed and it can spread beyond control, however it is a plant of myths and a common misconception is that it’s a harmful weed. In many parts of the country it is considered the gardener’s friends as it is one of the hardiest and best drought-tolerant plants to grow. We recommend checking with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of agapanthus in your area before planting.
Who knew this fragrant herb is also well suited to growing in dry gardens! Often used in the kitchen, thyme produces a mass of tiny edible flowers that look good in the garden, especially to those all-important pollinators, as well as tasting great. Grow swathes of the Mediterranean herb across garden beds or in between pavers for a lush look throughout the year. Beautiful as well as practical, thyme thrives in well-drained soil, positioned in full sun or partial shade. It can also be grown in pots, ideal for balcony gardens.
Iconic as Australia’s floral emblem, acacias, also known as wattles, are one of the most drought-tolerant plants you can have in your garden thanks to their tough structure highly resistant to moisture loss. The Golden Wattle is a fast-growing tree ideally suited to establishing in a new garden, with tiny puffballs of sweet-smelling yellow flowers blooming in dense clusters come spring. This native plant, usually found growing in the Australian bush, is well suited to harsh climates though does have a notoriously short life. There are many species of wattle to choose from, but generally all require well-drained soil, plenty of sunlight and ample room to grow in.
This South African perennial daisy is striking to look at, well suited to growing in Australia and can cope exceptionally well in drought and coastal conditions, making it a great all-rounder for your garden. Exhibiting showy flowers in cheerful shades of yellow, orange, red, pink and white, gazanias are low maintenance and very easy to grow, thriving in full sunlight in sandy, well-drained soil, though they can tolerate poor soil too. This hardy plant makes an eye-catching addition to a garden rockery.
Tip: Gazania is regarded as a weed in some parts of Australia, including Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Though it can be an invasive species in some habitats, particular on the coast, many of the new hybrids are safe to grow in most areas. It is recommended to research which varieties are best suited to the area in which you live before planting.
A tough native shrub found mainly in Eastern Australia, this is a valuable plant to have in the garden, particularly when in bloom as their delicate bell-like flowers are rich in nectar, attracting honey-eating birds. Easy to grow and maintain, correas are best planted in full sun or light shade, well suited to shrub gardens and rockeries though they can also survive growing under large trees.
Fill your garden with fragrance and flowers with a dazzling display of purple lavender. There are three main types of lavender to choose from: English, Italian and French, and all are drought-tolerant once established. Position in a sheltered spot with full sunlight and well-drained soil, or in raised pots, for best results. This perfumed shrub does not tolerate frost, so ensure it suits the climate where you are before planting.
This bold plant promises to make a statement in your outdoor space. Tolerant of coastal conditions, heat, sunlight and low water levels, echiums will reward you with gorgeous spires of purple flowers that act as a magnet for bees, butterflies and birds. Growing well in full sun and well-drained soil, echiums are ideal for large gardens where they have plenty of room to grow, as they can reach over two metres in height.
If you’re looking to create more of an architectural display in your garden beds then look no further than the agave plant. These perennial succulents often have dramatic fleshy leaves with serrated edges and spiny pointed tips. Agaves are easy to grow in a sunny position with well-drained, sandy soil, ideal for borders or rockeries. Hardiness can vary between species, though most can survive without water for long periods of time. Once established these plants can almost be forgotten about as they store water in their thick foliage, using their long roots to absorb more when necessary.
A truly water-wise plant, cordylines give year-round lush foliage and colour when positioned in a shady spot. Easy to care for in both sunny and temperate climates, this palm-like plant promises to bestow a tropical ambience to your garden beds and borders, with minimal watering once established. Their tufts of spiky red, bronze, pink or green leaves will keep the garden looking lush throughout the year.
This striking native species ranges from a small shrub to a large tree, identifiable by its distinctive spider-like flowers. These evergreen plants are beautiful yet self-sufficient once established. Preferring a sunny position in the garden, with gritty, well-drained soil, they can benefit from occasional deep watering (Hoselink’s root waterer & soil breaker is ideal). Fuss-free yet exquisite, grevilleas offer an explosion of colour all year round thanks to their nectar-rich flowers irresistible to insects, birds – and us!
Drought Tolerant Perennials That Bloom All Summer
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When we think of drought-resistant plants, succulents and grasses come immediately to mind – and while these are beautiful, not every gardener wants a sea of greens and browns. Similarly, if we think of perennials, we envision wildflowers and colourful blossoms – yet these plants usually require regular watering to look their best.
So, is there a solution for gardeners in areas with low rainfall, who like bright and lively colours in their flower beds?
15 Best Options for Long-Blooming & Drought-Tolerant Perennials
This colourful member of the daisy family will grow all summer with little care. It’s drought resistant and self-seeding; though they will grow in a variety of soils, Black-eyed Susans prefer a neutral pH level and a spot with full sun to light shade.
Deadheading the spent blooms will keep the plant flowering longer, but can stop it from spreading as the seeds are contained in the blooms.
Blanket flower “Gaillardia”
These fiery daisy-like flowers love loose, sandy, dry soil and full sun. From early summer to early fall, each clump of gray-green leaves will produce petals of either solid shades of yellow, peach, orange or deep red or banded red or orange and yellow combinations.
They can be planted in containers or directly into the ground and require little care once established. Deadheading will encourage flowering and the clumps should be cut back to 6” after the growing season for overwintering.
Previously only available in shades of purple, the coneflower now comes in a variety of bright colours. They provide long-lasting blooms with little maintenance even in low-water conditions. The coneflower is a great addition to wildflower meadows – and they’re attractive to bees and other pollinators.
These bluish-purple flowers with small, toothed leaves can grow to about 6” high and will spread out over nearly 2’. They are typically used as ground cover, but they will also cascade down a stone wall or climb a short support structure.
The leaves of the Dalmatian bellflower will remain green all winter and only brown in the spring when they’re replaced by new growth and should be removed. Though it is drought-tolerant, these little perennials may need watering during extremely dry spells.
Globe thistle (summer to early fall)
These stunning plants produce blooms up to 2” across with deep indigo and dark blue petals on 3’-4’ stems. Young plants require weekly watering, but once established they are drought tolerant and require little maintenance.
Globe thistles can self-seed but should be started from cultivated seed, as growing them from collected seeds can be difficult.
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily)
Usually called the Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily – and with good reason, Kniphofia (pronounced nee-FOF-ee-a) are very easy to grow; they require little upkeep once established in an area with full sun and great drainage. They are drought tolerant once established, but will bloom best if given supplemental water in especially dry periods.
Kniphofia bloom from late spring to early fall and really make a statement with their brilliantly coloured spikes. Clipping stalks for flower arrangements will encourage the growth of more blossoms, and the plant can be cut back to overwinter if the leaves yellow and die.
Though it’s technically an herb, lavender produces beautiful flower spikes and looks lovely in meadows or informal hedges. Bloom times will vary in different locations, but lavender typically is in blossom from June to August; if you want to extend the blooming season – and the colour palette – try planting one of several varieties of lavender hybrids.
This perennial with tall stems and light yellow, daisy-like blooms thrive in full sun and well-drained soil; though they can tolerate clay, they love loamy soil. These plants are popular in boarder plantings and require little care once established other than deadheading.
Moonbeam coreopsis is considered an invasive species in some areas, so be sure to verify whether it’s permitted in your region before planting.
Portulaca (perennial succulent w/ cactus-like blooms)
This beautiful ground cover plant loves full sunlight and sandy, well-drained soil. They seed and spread very well by themselves; if not controlled, the Portulaca plant – with its cylindrical foliage and striking pink, red, yellow, orange, cream, white or deep lavender blossoms – may crop up in unexpected areas.
They will cascade over the edge of their containers for an eye-catching display, and are very attractive to butterflies.
This popular perennial blooms from early summer to fall and produces rounded cluster of star-shaped flowers with blue-green, lance-shaped leaves; the blossoms can be crimson, pink, or white.
Red Valerian, which prefers full sun and can thrive even in poor soil, is an excellent border plant and is attractive to both birds and butterflies.
This ground cover plant can actually be made into soap! These self-seeders typically grow in colonies and get 1’-3’ tall; the lightly-scented, white or pale pink flowers usually appear in mid-summer and will last into the fall.
Deadheading will help to produce more blooms and stop the plant from growing out of control.
These fragrant plants with their silvery gray foliage and spiky clusters of lavender flowers make a bold statement in any garden. They thrive in full sun and dry soil, and are extremely drought-tolerant once established.
These perky little blossoms are an excellent choice for a sunny spot. They are a short-lived perennial, returning for just a few years; staggered yearly plantings will keep your Shasta daisies at their best. They love very fertile soil with excellent drainage – Shastas won’t tolerate soggy roots.
Cut blooms will last quite a while and, along with deadheading, will encourage a heavier and more abundant show of blossoms.
Perennial salvia is a great way to add a splash of colour to your low-water garden; they come in many varieties and produce tall spikes of blue, lavender, red or white blooms. Most varieties grow between 18”-36” tall and will attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.
The yarrow is an aromatic herb with many healing properties. This perennial has clusters of tightly-packed flowers above ferny foliage; the blossoms can be yellow, red, pink or any shade in between.
This low-maintenance, drought-resistant plant is an aggressive grower that is very attractive to butterflies.
Is it fun in the hot sun?
Is the hot summer all but a dream or will there be more good weather to come? Who knows, in this green and pleasant land, if and when sunshine and warmth will be with us. For most of us, a hot spell is a blessing. But if you were on the continent earlier in the month you would have experienced heatwave Lucifer. It has seen temperatures soar to over 40 degrees C. and caused havoc, including wild fires, drought and even death. The affected countries included Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia, which were all issued with the highest grade red warning from European weather hub Meteoalarm.
Is hot weather a good thing for plants and for people?
All this might sound like an ideal holiday setting, but even tourists had trouble coping with the severe heat. Seeking out the shade or staying indoors within air-conditioned rooms doesnt lend itself to rewarding sightseeing and even a dip in an over-crowded pool loses its charm when theres little shade for respite. Cooling off in a swimming pool becomes essential when temperatures soar. Early morning and late afternoon are the only times when tourists want to be out in the heat.
What can you grow in the heat?
If you are a grower of any kind, extreme weather conditions can pose a massive problem. Italian wine growers are harvesting their grapes earlier than ever before, but wine production is expected to be lower than last year. Weather needs to be closely monitored and this year has been more problematic than most, including an early blossom; late frosts; hailstorms and then higher than average heat. The grape harvest is weather-dependent and growers have to keep their wits about them at all times! Here in the south east of England, most will feel that summer has been pretty good, and theres still plenty of scope for more warmth and joy to come. The sunny early summer brought forth some lovely blooms, but many plants then began to need water.
Thinking outside of the box
The changeable weather, which many believe can be attributed to climate change, has begun to guide people along the path of adopting a slightly different approach. During dry and drought conditions , most plants need some sort of supplementary watering and this can become a real maintenance issue. Particularly if theres a hosepipe ban. So, how do you cope with dry weather? Watering the garden can become a big issue when times are very dry. Drought-resistant planting seems the right way to go if you hope for a less labour-intensive garden. Digging sand, gravel or substrate into a heavy soil will help to break up the clods and allow free-draining conditions which will enable planting of a wide and wonderful range of plants.
10 plants that can cope with drought and dry conditions
Many perennials with silvery foliage or leaves that are covered in tiny hairs are pretty drought tolerant. For a Mediterranean approach, try the following: Lavender self seeds when conditions are right.
Lavender – it thrives in poor soil and hates its feet to be planted in a bog.
Rosemary – a delightful herb that looks great, is loved by bees and can be used in the kitchen too.
Thyme gives you a wonderful carpet with tiny aromatic leaves and its happy in a drought.
Marjoram, also known as oregano, is great for a dry place in the garden. Sage, also shown, is another plant that can withstand drought conditions.
Marjoram, also known as oregano. There are dozens of varieties of Origanum, including some lime green and yellow foliage plants, all with pink or whitish flowers which are loved by beneficial insects.
chamomile is another herb that can be considered to be drought-tolerant, although it does like a little shade as well as sun.
Chamomile, with its pretty white flowers and self-seeding habit. If you want a non-flowering Chamomile lawn effect, go for
Stachys byzantina has tactile, furry foliage which just asks to be stroked. This helps cut down evaporation and tells you that it is drought tolerant.
Stachys byzantina, known as lambs ears. These are tactile because the foliage feels furry – and the plant just loves dry conditions.
Achillea ‘Terracotta’ is a great drought-tolerant plant with umbel-shaped flowers in summer.
Achillea, otherwise known as yarrow, is a great group of perennials with attractive umbel flowers which come in a delightful range of colours from warm terracotta through to white.
Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ or ‘Little Spire’ looks a little like lavender, but taller. It’s a lovely, drought-tolerant perennial for a dry and sunny spot. Also known as Russian sage.
Russian sage, Perovskia Blue Spire is a great plant for dry spaces, giving a lavender-like sea of blue flowers at waist-height.
Kniphofia are perennials that send up red hot pokers with gorgeous flowers on top! They are happy in a dry spot in sunshine.
Kniphofia, otherwise known as red hot pokers. They even look like fiery torches and thrive in dry, free-draining, sunny sites.
Phlomis have a really good vertical structure and they can be left standing all year for winter form. They are happy in a dry spot in the garden.
Phlomis, or Jerusalem sage, has soft, hairy leaves and whorls of flowers which can give structural form all through the winter too.