The best ‘drought-tolerant’ plants to prepare for water shortages

Gardening tips: Expert on how to grow lavender at home

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Gardening expert Chris Bonnett from, has said last year’s unprecedented weather with high temperatures could be seen again this year if current rainfall levels are anything to go by. Last summer saw temperatures reach as high as 40C in areas of the UK, a heat which many plants and shrubs cannot handle.

The expert said: “Last year was unlike any summer I’ve ever seen and these intense periods of heat and lack of rainfall are likely to become more prevalent.

“Gardeners need to adapt and think about what they can grow that’s tolerant of these difficult conditions.

“There are lots of options from favourites like lavender to more unusual plants like passion flowers. There’s also other things gardeners can be doing now like installing water butts to collect rainwater to water their garden.”

Back in December 2022, the Met Office predicted that 2023 could be one of the hottest on record.

Planting drought-tolerant plants have evolved to thrive in dry soils with little rainwater, perfect for growing in a sunny border or on a patio which gets lots of sun.

The expert recommended planting lavender, a staple in UK gardens, with beautiful flowers and a distinctive fragrance.

Chris said: “It’s also a good drought tolerant plant. Try planting close to a path or in a garden border to fully enjoy the scent. 

“Lavender also works well in planters on the patio or deck. And the added bonus? Beneficial insects like bees and butterflies love them.

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“Plant passion flowers too. This exotic climber copes with a lack of rain well and thrives during hot summers. This is a show stopper in the garden. 

“The white flowers with central rings of purple, blue and white spiky filaments are in full bloom from July to September, followed by egg-shaped, orange-yellow fruit.”

According to the pro, these are perfect for a tropical garden but look stunning whatever your garden theme.

Gardeners could also grow cordyline australis, commonly known as the cabbage tree, which can be seen in countries like Australia.

They can create a statement in the garden with its upright, palm appearance with green sword leaves. They are hardy and will thrive in full sun, surviving a period of drought.

Chris said: “Mature plants have fragrant, white blooms in clusters which appear during late spring.

“Also grow hebe. Drought tolerant hebes are the ultimate foliage plants providing interest all year round. 

“These evergreen shrubs will add colour and texture to your outside space. The low growing domes of densely packed leaves can be plated just about everywhere. 

“They’re virtually maintenance-free, frost hardy, drought tolerant and tolerant of shade, sun and poor soil.”

Gardeners looking for a small shrub which is drought-tolerant should opt for a perovskia, also known as the Russian sage.

They have highly fragrant leaves which hold compact flowers from late summer, flowering from late July through to September.

The gardening expert recommended planting them alongside a path to fully enjoy the fragrance from their leaves.

He continued: “Try planting artemisia powis castle. It is a wonderful plant that acts as the perfect foil for more showy flowers. Its finely cut foliage is what allows this plant to survive under drought conditions.”

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