Plants for Dry Sites

Difficult dry areas are often associated with the shade under the canopy of much larger plants but can be equally as difficult in full sun. All plants will need water to survive as they lose water through the foliage, however some plants have adapted to minimise this loss by modifying their leaves but do remember that all newly planted trees, shrubs and hedging will need regular watering until they are well established also starting with smaller specimens so that they adapt gradually to the conditions. Mulches will help to retain moisture in the soil and adding some organic matter can improve water availability and drainage.  For ground cover plants the clump forming Alchemilla Mollis grows in such a way that the leaves will catch the rain whereas the slightly tougher leaves of Bergenia Cordifolia Purpurea will hold onto the water content longer. Euonymus Japonicus which is drought tolerant once established makes a superb low growing evergreen hedge or edge with its glossy deep green foliage but if more colour is required along with some security then Gorse would be ideal with its bright yellow pea-like flowers in spring and thorny habit. The Daisy Bush or Olearia is another tough shrub also suitable for low evergreen hedging, with the lower growing Haastii for smaller borders or the more substantial Macrodonta for taller hedges both having silvery felted underside to the foliage making them eminently suitable as drought resistant plants. There are several plants of Mediterranean origin which are most suitable for dry areas as they are native to regions where there is little rainfall. Probably the most popular one would be the Lavenders of which there are numerous varieties for example the Hidcote and Munstead, two of the most popular English Lavenders and of course all the French varieties. If you are looking for inspiration for dry shady areas then please look at our shady plant list for a large selection of plants that will thrive in these more difficult conditions.