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Which plants don't need watering often?

I hear we could be in for another hosepipe ban this summer. Can you advise me on plants that will survive in my garden without regular watering?
(I live in the UK).


Most trees and shrubs (roses and climbers less so) should be OK - assuming they are established and healthy. Give them a 10cm mulch of organic matter in spring and they should survive anything.

A period of drought is actually good for many plants - it toughens up the growth above ground, while forcing the roots to grow downwards in search of soil moisture. They will thus survive temperatures well below freezing in winter.

To be specific - ceanothus and mahonias should do well during a drought, as will all the Mediterranean plants (assuming you have a free-draining soil): cistus, genista, rosemaries, lavenders, Euphorbia characias and Convolvulus cneorum. For perennials try agapanthus, sedums and stachys lanata. All of these need full sun, however.

Answered by Andrew Mikolajski from United Kingdom, Long Buckby, in June 2010.

Andrew Mikolajski is a Gardening writer and speaker

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There are a large number of plants that are able to resist prolonged periods of drought. However, nearly all of them only become so once they are fully established.

It's important to ensure they are well watered in after planting - giving one good soaking every few days rather than little and often - to ensure they become established as soon as possible.

A 3in to 4in (8-10cm) deep mulch of bark or similar or a 2in (5cm) deep mulch of gravel after planting will help insulate the roots from hot, sunny conditions and maintain soil moisture levels. But it is important to ensure the mulch is only put down when the soil is already moist.

When buying plants, always look out for drought resistors. Good indictors of drought tolerance include fleshy, hairy or waxy leaves, silvery or grey leaves and even thin grass-like leaves and scented foliage.

And don't buy the biggest - smaller plants establish quicker and need less water and soon overtake bigger plants.

Answered by GardenForum Horticulture from United Kingdom, Peterborough, in July 2010.

GardenForum Horticulture is a garden writer & broadcaster.

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