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Drought tolerant plants

As climate change presents some gardeners, particularly in the south of England, with the challenge of gardening with less water, choosing plants with a degree of drought resistance becomes more important. There is a wide range of plants that can tolerate dry soils and low levels of rainfall, especially once established. These tend to be plants with light leaf colours that reflect rays of sunlight, such as grey-green or silvery leaves. Some plants also have fine hairy foliage and stems, which help retain moisture around the plant tissues. Our pick of the best drought tolerant plants are Abelia grandiflora, box plants, Ceanothus, Sedum and Euphorbia.

Gardening using drought tolerant plants can help you do your bit for the environment by reducing water use. Around two-thirds of domestic water use on hot summer days goes on the garden, which can be hard to sustain. At times when rainfall is low, water companies may ask gardeners to reduce water use. In the extreme, growing drought tolerant plants means you won’t have to choose between flouting the rules and letting your garden fall into a sorry state through the next hose pipe ban.

Suitable conditioning of the soil can be as important as the choice of plants themselves. Most plants will thank you for incorporating plenty of well-rotted garden compost or organic matter into the planting hole, which acts like a sponge, retaining moisture below ground through periods of low rainfall, rather than allowing it to percolate away. A regular mulch of bark chippings or similar (taking into consideration the acidic preference of your plants) also helps suppress weeds, preventing them for competing for moisture with your precious plants.

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