Drought Resistance and Drought Resistant Plants

Weather is unpredictable but the increasing demands for water continues to rise. For most of us, there is little chance of water supplies running so low that we will run short of drinking water but there is a very real chance that our gardens will suffer.

While there will continue to be periods of heavy rainfall, more and more we will have to face water shortages. If we start thinking about our methods of gardening and our choice of plants now there is no reason why our gardens can’t continue to be the colourful and relaxing outdoor rooms we have come to value so highly. Consider these options when planning a garden that will tolerate the restrictions place on us in periods of below average rainfall.

Changes in cultivation techniques to improve soil and surfaces

  • Mulches
  • Improving the moisture retaining properties of your soil
  • Careful choice of garden surfaces
  1. Cobbles
  2. Gravel
  3. Glass
  4. Stone
  • Decking
  • Ground cover planting
  • Different types of grass for lawns

Different types of plants

  • Think about a plant’s natural habitat when choosing a planting scheme for your garden
  • Grasses
  • Foliage that can withstand drought - those that have hairy leaves and very thin leaves prevent the rapid rate of evaporation from the leaf surface.

Making the most of the available water

  • Consider the materials your containers are made of
  1. Porous (terracotta)
  2. Non-porous - plastic, fibre glass, glazed materials
  • Water retaining crystals
  • Composts
  1. Peat based planting matter dry out fast and can be difficult to re-moisten and are considered by many to be unenvironmentally friendly
  2. Coir has strong water retentative properties
  3. Add grit to planting matter
  4. Loam based soil is slower to dry out than many alternatives
  • Irrigation systems
  • When planting new plants give them a good start by adding them to well watered compost
  • Recycle the water that is available
  1. Use water butts
  2. The use of grey water

Trees which provide shade provide cool pockets of air

Give careful thoughts to planting schemes

  • Mediterranean planting schemes use many plants that will have high drought resistance
  • Prairie
  • Reduce the area of lawn

Tackle troublespots

  • Reduce evaporation
  • Avoid cutting lawn areas too short
  • If you have a water feature change fine spray fountains to single spouts which reduce evaporation
  • Consider slopes within your garden which will encourage water run-off in a particular direction
  • Windbreaks

Drought Resistant Plants

Trees and Shrubs

  • Arbutus - Strawberry Tree
  • Aucuba japonica - Spotted Laurel
  • Callistemon - Bottlebrush
  • Ceanothus - Californian Lilac
  • Eucalyptus
  • Gardenia thunbergia
  • Magnolia grandiflora
  • Rosmarinus officinalis - Rosemary
  • Lonicera Kamchatika (Edible Honeysuckle) - Honeyberry


  • Bougainvillea
  • Jasminum officinale
  • Jasminum grandiflorum
  • Lonicera etrusca
  • Lonicera japonica 'Halliana'
  • Passiflora caerulea
  • Rosa banksiae
  • Wisteria floribunda

Perennials and Ephemerals

  • Agapanthus
  • Antirrhinum
  • Centaurea
  • Convolvulus
  • Dicentra chrysantha
  • Digitalis grandiflora
  • Echinops
  • Euphorbia
  • Geranium
  • Lathyrus grandiflorus
  • Lathyrus rotundifolius
  • Papaver alpinum
  • Papaver orientale
  • Papaver atlanticum
  • Phormium
  • Salvia argentea
  • Strelitzia reginae
  • Tradescantia pallida


  • Allium
  • Anemone
  • Gladiolus\Iris histrio
  • Narcissus tazetta
  • Nerine bowdenii
  • Tulipa turkestanica
  • Tulipa linifolia
  • Tulipa saxatilis

Grasses and Bamboos

  • Arundo donax
  • Briza media
  • Cortaderia selloana
  • Festuca glauca
  • Miscanthus sacchariflorus
  • Miscanthus Zebrinus
  • Pennisetum setaceum
  • Phyllostachys aurea
  • Phyllostachys aureosulcata
  • Pleioblastus pygmaeus
  • Stipa arundinacea
  • Stipa pennata
  • Stipa gigantean

Succulents & Xerophytes

  • Aeonium
  • Agave
  • AloeDasylirion
  • Echeveria
  • Opuntia
  • Puya
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum
  • Yucca