Today Open: 09:00 to 18:00

10 Drought Tolerant Plants that Look Superb in the Heat

10 Drought Tolerant Plants that Look Superb in the Heat

As parts of the UK suffer from the driest summer since 1935, it has sparked public debate on the importance of choosing plants for the future that will thrive on less water.


The coined phrase dry-garden paints a picture of a tired-looking allotment. With the onset of climate change, unthirsty gardens are trending for gardens that require less water but still flourish in hose-pipe-conscious summers. You can create a luscious and green garden with a diverse range of textures that looks as if it has been watered and, therefore, unthirsty.


Typical cottage garden favourites, such as Lupins, Delphiniums and bedding plants, require considerable water to ensure maximum blooms and beauty. It may be best to plant them in containers for splashes of colours around the garden and patio, making them more manageable in controlling water use.


However, a whole range of beautiful perennials and shrubs are easy to cultivate and require a lot less water once established outdoors.



Right Plant Right Place


We can learn a lot by looking at the work of previous well-known horticulturists such as Beth Chatto, Piet Oudolf and Nigel Dunnett. They have all proven that you can have a fantastic landscape by using prairie-style planting schemes and the Right Plant in the Right Place. By this, we mean finding plants that love to grow in present garden conditions instead of changing the garden conditions to suit the plants.


What are the characteristics of drought-tolerant plants?

Plants more likely to be drought tolerant may have the following characteristics.

  • Silvery Foliage that reflects the heat
  • Furry Leaves reduce the amount of water they lose through evaporationThick Succulent Foliage gives them the advantage of storing water in their leaves.


Helpful tips to help with water saving

It's not just about choosing the right type of plants but also how you plant and maintain them. Here are some valuable tips for planting, watering, mulching, and plant size.

  • Plant hardy shrubs in late autumn, so their roots are established before spring.
  • In the UK, water before 8 Am and after 8 Pm as water evaporates less quickly at these times. What's more, the intensity of the heat can burn the plant foliage during the day.
  • Mulch plants with good quality Peat-free Compost topped up with Ornamental Bark to help reduce evaporation and suppress weed growth.
  • Plant smaller-sized pots ideally in groups of odd numbers like 3 and 5 as these will establish better in the current garden environment.

Hot Tip:

When planting in window boxes or pots, use Moisture Control Compost as this will help reduce the frequency of watering required. You can also add Moisture Control Water Storage Gel when planting to aid water retention.


Ten great drought tolerant plants

Here are ten plants that look superb and thrive in the heat.

1. Acacia dealbata (Blue Wattle)

This elegant small tree is native to Australia and provides a retina-burning display of acid-yellow blooms in early spring. It's an easy-to-care-for evergreen tree covered with a panicle of yellow flowers, and it's a hardy plant that will survive the UK winters unscathed.


2.  Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop'

A dwarf form of Verbena growing to around 0.8 meters, Verbena bonariensis' Lollipop' provides a sea of upright purple panicles of flowers throughout late summer. Its buds appear on its square, almost leafless stems, and you can place them throughout borders without shading other surrounding plants.  


3.  Salvia ‘Blue Spire’ syn. (Russian Sage)

Perovskia' Blue Spire' is a useful hardy shrub that provides a sea of upright panicles of vivid blue blooms from late summer until autumn– Russian Sage's blue flowers shine out against the delicate silvery foliage. It is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and provides a long season of interest.


4. Cistus corbariensis (Hybrid Rock Rose)

A dense low growing mound forming evergreen and will reach up to a meter in height– Hybrid Rock Rose is a valuable plant with wrinkled aromatic foliage providing the perfect backdrop for an abundance of pure white blooms with a yellow centre.


5. Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea ‘Moorhex’

A perennial grass that forms a mound of dark green foliage from which appear upright tassel-like delicate seedheads– Molinia is an elegant grass that looks excellent when planted with other late summer flowering perennials in a border.


6. Nepeta'  Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepetas are a valuable group of plants that start flowering in June and keep flowering through until autumn. They have aromatic foliage and create a sea of long-lived blue blooms. It is an excellent plant at the front of a mixed planted border or lining a pathway. Cutback after the first blush of blossoms to ensure continued flowering. Ideal for a sun-baked border in well-drained soil.


7. Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' (Spurge)

Euphorbias are a tremendous early flowering evergreen perennial, and this variety has upright heads of vivid green and contrasting black calyxes. Once established in the garden, it requires little maintenance other than a prune yearly to maintain the plant's shape and vigour.


8. Hylotelephium syn. Sedum' Mojave Jewels Ruby' (Stone Crop)

This Sedum has dark purple succulent-like foliage from which a sea of upright umbels of individual, pink-coloured blooms appear, lasting throughout summer. It is a great perennial for late summer colour that is drought tolerant once established in the garden. Furthermore, it is a reliable clump-forming perennial increasing in size yearly in the garden.


9. Santolina chamaecyparissus (Cotton Lavender)

As an unusual shrub with silvery fussy aromatic foliage that forms a low-growing mound– Santolina is an excellent shrub for the front of a mixed-planted border. It flowers all summer long with sizeable yellow daisy flowers contrasting with the silver foliage.


10. Kniphofia caulescens (Red Hot Poker)

In late summer, the red-hot poker flowers of Kniphofia blast out in shades of eye-watering orange and yellow. Upright heads of individual flowers start to rise about the foliage in midsummer—a tremendous perennial for a plant in the centre of a sun-baked border. Kniphofia is a South African native with flowers lasting throughout late summer until autumn. It is a must-have for late summer and a plant that garden visitors will notice.



For more advice on drought-tolerant plants, contact the Boma Horticulture team.

You might also be interested in:

Children are always excited about being in the natural world, feeling awe and curiosity all around. These top five tips to get kids gardening will help to encourage kids in your family or friends to get engaged with growing plants.


Extend your home into your garden with a beautiful outdoor living room and enjoy the best of both worlds! Read our top tips on how to create your perfect outdoor living space.


The only way is up! Vertical gardening is ideal for balconies, making use of walls, upright supports and cleverly designed planters to turn even the smallest space into a little green piece of paradise.


Many climbers can be great for wildlife encouraging insects for birds and bats to eat plus resting and nesting spaces as well. Whichever climber you choose, it is sure to add interest and delight to your garden. Here's our top 5!