What should you do if you want your dry garden to look stunning throughout the year? If you believe that the only solution is to water it daily and abundantly, or focus all of your energy on trying to (unsuccessfully) improve the conditions, you will be happy to hear that there is an easier way.
Although most plants appreciate moist, fertile soils, there are many cultivars that actually thrive in a dry landscape garden. With a little careful planning and smart choice of drought-tolerant plants, your little dry patch of land could look absolutely spectacular. To boot, most of the plants suitable for dry garden planting are also rough and resilient in general, making them easy to grow and to care for.
Best Drought-Tolerant Plants for a Dry Garden
While plants that love dry conditions are not the norm, it does not mean that drought-resistant cultivars are sparse. There are many shrubs and trees that naturally occur in arid places, as well as those that have been selectively bred to flourish in such conditions. The only thing that remains is to pick out varieties that fit with your dry garden design and personal preferences.
Whichever cultivars you end up choosing for your drought-tolerant garden, you need to be aware of their watering needs when you first plant them. All plants, but especially larger and older ones, need to be well watered in for a least a year until they become established in their new home. After that, drought-tolerant plants need very little or no watering.
At Paramount Plants Garden Centre, we have many attractive, drought-tolerant plants that are UK hardy. From drought-resistant trees to flowering perennials for dry shade, we have what you need. Take a look at some of our xeriscaping favourites:
Trees for a dry garden
Our go-to choice for dry gardens is evergreen Olive trees. It is not just because Olive in all shapes and sizes is a signature tree at Paramount Plants, but because these drought-tolerant cultivars are not high-maintenance and offer stunning visual interest to any landscape. We stock everything from large old Olives in bonsai style to full standard olive trees.
Another exotic-looking but UK hardy choice for dry landscape gardens are the many New Zealand Cabbage Palm varieties. Cordyline Australis comes in multi-stem, variegated, and purple variant, and it will fit in any landscape. Needless to say, all of these gorgeous exotic palms are drought-tolerant and can be a good choice for coastal gardens, as they feel at home at the seaside. Salt sprays and strong winds do not bother them!
If you prefer trees that bring colour to the garden, ideal choices for the dry garden could be the bright Acacia Dealbata or Mimosa. The fluffy, yellow blooms create a vibrant, dramatic display in the garden. Additionally, pink-flowering Judas Tree or Pride of India Tree could strike your fancy. Finally, for a showy tree that bears fruit even in the driest climates, choose our Pomegranate cultivars. Not only you will get to enjoy its juicy fruits, but its blossom is certain to impress you.
Year-round interest with drought-tolerant evergreens
Apart from our selection of exceptional Olive tree specimens, we offer a variety of evergreen plants for a dry landscape garden. For drought-tolerant dwarf evergreens, you cannot go wrong with the Artemisia Powis Castle and its lovely silver, feathery foliage. The rounded habit makes it suitable for mixed shrub borders as well as standalone role. On the other hand, if you prefer dwarf conifers for dry gardens, you should take a look at varieties such as the unusual Juniperus Procumbens Nana or the popular Pinus Mugo Nana. In fact, any of the dwarf conifers from Pinus family should be a good choice for a dry landscape garden, as these conditions resemble their original habitat.
For a full-sized evergreen that could be a centrepiece in a mixed shrub border, the lovely Lawson’s Cypress or False Cypress is an excellent candidate. We also offer Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana in columnar and various topiary forms that would introduce structural interest, as well.
Succulents and spiky plants for a dry landscape garden
The first thing that comes to mind when you imagine a dry, desert-like landscape is surely a lone succulent or cactus, thriving despite the barren and harsh environment. To no one’s surprise, these cultivars adapt beautifully to dry garden conditions.
For landscapes in need of structural value and year-round interest, our established Yucca cultivars are a great match. The sword-like foliage will look fantastic in any garden, whether it is in the rounded “crown” of Blue Swan variety or erect in the Yucca Gloriosa.
Leaf succulents, such as Agave Americana or Aloe Vera, are particularly fitting for dry landscape gardens, as their spiky leaves perfectly contrast the texture and colour of other popular drought-resistant plants.
Perennials that tolerate dry conditions
The family of perennials includes countless cultivars; a good portion of them suitable for xeriscaping having drought-tolerant characteristics and so can be used to create a fragrant herb garden. We have already mentioned, in one group or another, flowering plants for dry landscape garden, water-wise cultivars with structural value, or textured evergreens that do well in arid areas. So why not focus on those perennial plants that will give your garden seasons of beautiful scent, or that have many uses even outside the garden itself?
For a dry garden or that pesky solitary dry spot in the landscape, choose perennials such as Lavender, Rosemary or Sage. Whether you want an informal look or need these beneficial perennials to fit in a structured landscape, you will find that these resilient plants fit in beautifully.
For more ideas about Gardening for Dry Spots, see also Beth Chatto.