Can I grow normal plants in a dry area?

 

Growing everyday plants in dry soil conditions is not easy, hardly ever successful, is not sustainable and at the very least will be very time-consuming requiring gallons of water and hours spent watering.

This in itself is not Eco friendly and not a long-term solution anyway, as regular watering only encourages the plant's roots to stay shallow instead of going deeper into the ground seeking water for themselves.

The plant then becomes dependent on your watering schedule.  Great if you have a need to be needed, but not so great if you want to get away for a few days or we have a hosepipe ban.

 

However there are some plants that are naturals for living in dry conditions.

So Why not grow plants that will tolerate dry conditions, the ones nature has designed that way.

plants that will naturally tolerate dry conditions,

 

Plants that grow in dry conditions.

Most drought tolerant plants especially the Mediterranean natives, have silver or grey-green leaves to reflect the harsh rays of the sun and some have fine hairs on there leaves or stems, to trap moisture around the plant tissues. They also develop deep root systems that penetrate deep into the ground to reach water reserves. 

 

Selecting plants for planting in dry areas can be easy, if a plant has silver or grey-green leaves that are either woolly or aromatic it will usually thrive in dry soil in full sun.

These are a few examples of plants that grow well in dry gardens: Lavender, rosemary, santolina, thyme, cistus, sage, phlomis, most achilleas and artemisia. 

 

Plants from hot spots in many other parts of the world have evolved to grow and thrive in dry conditions too and will also survive our dry British summers.

  • Plants that store water either in there leaves and stems like Succulents and sedums tolerate long periods of drought thanks to their plump foliage or stems. 
  • The ones that grow from underground tubers, bulbs or rhizomes. 
  • Plants that develop long tap roots for tapping into moisture underground. Plants such as verbascums, many poppies, acanthus, lupins, hollyhocks and umbellifers 
  • Mexican dahlias, salvias, penstemons and gaura from inner North America has also evolved to survive drought. 
  • Fluffy pennisetums and fine-leaved stipas, both highly ornamental grasses, also thrive.
  • South African plants enjoy the heat, but they also need rain so, although crocosmias, agapanthus, dieramas and kniphofias will survive hot summers, they will probably produce fewer flowers.

Plants nature has designed to tolerate dry conditions,

Herbaceous perennials

  • Baptisia australis AGM: 1.5m x 60cm (5ft x 24in)
  • Euphorbia: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Eryngium: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Echinops: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Osteospermum jucundum AGM: Height 10-50cm (4-20in) Spread 50-90cm (20-36in)
  • Verbena including V. rigida AGM and V. bonariensis AGM:  Height and spread variable according to cultivar

Trees for very dry conditions

  • Acacia dealbata (mimosa) AGM: Height 50-100ft spread 50ft
  • Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) AGM: Height and spread 30ft
  • Koelreuteria paniculata (golden rain tree) AGM: Height and spread 30ft
  • Ptelea trifoliata ‘Aurea’ (hop tree) AGM: Height: 15ft

Palms 

  • Cordyline australis AGM: 3-10m x 1-4m (10-30ft x 3-13ft)
  • Trachycarpus fortunei AGM: (20m x 2.5m (70ft x 8ft

 

Best Climbers for dry and drought conditions. 

  • 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)

Grasses 

  • 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)

Small shrubs

  • Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ AGM: 60cm x 90cm (24 x 36in) 
  • Halimium: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Hebe: Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Lavandula (lavender): Height and spread variable according to cultivar
  • Nandina 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 (20i

 

Medium-large shrubs

  • 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 cultivar
  • Elaeagnus 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)

Conifers

  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress)
  • Cupressus arizonica var. glabra: 30-50ft x 12-15ft
  • Juniperus
  • Pinus 

 

Most of these plants, shrubs, climbers and smaller trees that will thrive in dry conditions even drought will survive a period of neglect in pots and containers too. So if you are prone to forgetting to water, try some of the best plants for dry conditions listed on this page.