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As climate change presents us with the challenge of gardening with less water, choosing plants to suit our growing conditions becomes paramount.
Drought-resistant planting. Credit: RHS Advisory
With some conditioning of the soil and careful watering, there is a considerable range of plants that can tolerate dry conditions once they are established.
Many drought tolerant plants have silver or grey-green leaves, their light leaf colour reflecting the harsh rays of the sun. Some have a coating of fine hairs on their leaves or stems, helping to trap moisture around the plant tissues. Below is a selection of plants with good drought-tolerant properties.
Acacia dealbata (mimosa) AGM: Height 15-30m (50-100ft); spread 15m (50ft)Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) AGM: Height and spread 10m (30ft)Koelreuteria paniculata (golden rain tree) AGM: Height and spread 10m (30ft)Ptelea trifoliata ‘Aurea’ (hop tree) AGM: Height: 5m (15ft)
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress): Height and spread variable according to cultivarCupressus arizonica var. glabra: 10-15m x 4-5m (30-50ft x 12-15ft)Juniperus: Height and spread variable according to species and cultivarPinus: Height and spread variable according to species and cultivar
Cordyline australis AGM: 3-10m x 1-4m (10-30ft x 3-13ft)Trachycarpus fortunei AGM: (20m x 2.5m (70ft x 8ft)
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ AGM: 60cm x 90cm (2ft x 3ft) Halimium: Height and spread variable according to cultivarHebe: Height and spread variable according to cultivarLavandula (lavender): Height and spread variable according to cultivarNandina domestica (sacred bamboo) AGM: 2m x 1.5m (6ft x 5ft)Ozothamnus ledifolius AGM: 1m x 1m (3ft x 3ft)Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’ AGM: 1.2m x 1m (4ft x 3ft)Santolina chamaecyparissus AGM: 50cm x 50cm (20in x 3ft)
Abelia × grandiflora AGM: 3m x 4m (10ft x 12ft)Arbutus unedo AGM: 8m x 8m (25ft x 25ft)Callistemon citrinus: Height and spread variable according to cultivarElaeagnus angustifolia AGM: 6m x 6m (20ft x 20ft)Olearia macrodonta AGM: 6m x 5m (20ft x 15ft)Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius ‘Silver Jubilee’ AGM: 2-3m x 1.5m (6-10ft x 5ft)Vitex agnus-castus: 2-8m x 2-8m (6-25ft x 6-25ft)
Campsis: 10m (30ft)Eccremocarpus scaber AGM: 3-5m (10-15ft)Jasminum officinale: 12m (40ft)Passiflora caerulea (e.g. ‘Constance Elliott’ AGM): 10m (30ft)Solanum crispum: 6m (20ft)
Baptisia australis AGM: 1.5m x 60cm (5ft x 2ft)Bergenia: 30-60cm (1-2ft) x 45-60cm (18in-2ft)Euphorbia: Height and spread variable according to cultivarEryngium: Height and spread variable according to cultivarEchinops: Height and spread variable according to cultivarHeuchera: Height and spread variable according to cultivarOsteospermum jucundum AGM: Height 10-50cm (4-20in) Spread 50-90cm (20in-3ft)Verbena including V. rigida AGM and V. bonariensis AGM: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
Cortaderia selloana: 2.5 -3m x 1.5m (8-10ft x 5ft)Panicum virgatum: 1m x 75cm (3ft x 30in)Pennisetum alopecuroides: 0.6-1.5 x 0.6-1.2m (2-5ft x 2-4ft)Stipa gigantea: AGM 2.5m x 1.2m (8ft x 4ft)Briza media Pennisetum rubrum
AlonsoaAmaranthusArctotisArgyranthemumBidensBrachyscomeCalendula officinalis (pot marigold)Cerinthe majorConvolvulus sabatiusCosmos bipinnatusEschscholzia californica (Californian poppy)FeliciaGazaniaGomphrena globosaHelianthus (sunflower)Helichrysum petiolareHeliotropiumHelipterum roseum (syn. Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea)Ipomoea purpureaLantana camaraLavandula multifida, L. dentataLimnanthes douglasiiLimonium sinuatumMesembryanthemumMirabilis jalapaNicotianaNigella damascenaOsteospermumPapaver somniferumPelargoniumPlectranthusPortulaca grandifloraSenecio maritimaSilybum marianumTithonia rotundifoliaTropaeolum majusVerbenaZaluzianskya ovata (night phlox)
Bidens BrachyscomeConvolvulus sabatiusDiasciaFeliciaNemesiaPelargonium - trailing and zonalTropaeolum majusVerbena
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Cacti and succulentsCampsisCeanothusDrought-resistant gardeningLawns in Mediterranean regionsLavenderSandy soils: plants forWateringWater: collecting, storing and savingWet and dry soils: plants for
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