Best plants for hot and dry conditions – how to drought-proof your garden

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Managing Director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Morris Hankinson has shared which plants are best for hot and dry conditions. The gardening expert shared exactly how to drought-proof a garden. Morris exclusively told “While many gardens may look parched and their plants struggle in these dry conditions, some plants just love it. It’s in their DNA.”

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Morris’ list includes heat-loving and drought-tolerant garden plants.

Gardeners need to remember that all new shrubs – even drought-resistant ones – will need watering well until they get well-established.

Only when their root system has a strong foothold will they be truly drought-tolerant.

Drought-resistant shrubs


The strawberry tree is a tough evergreen with leathery leaves.

Hailing from the Mediterranean, Morris said it’s “right at home” in a heatwave.

The plant produces attractive, small, white flowers which are then followed by colourful, strawberry red fruits that appear a whole year later.

Older trees have characteristic ornamental shaggy bark.

The compacta variety is ideal for smaller gardens.


This is often known by its common name of Cabbage Palm.

They have striking architectural foliage and are available in a rainbow of different colours.

Morris said: “They look great in a large container or to punctuate flower borders.

“A plant from hot southern hemisphere countries that grows really fast in hot weather.”


Lavender is a common plant in English gardens and is often a cottage garden favourite.

The plant originates from the Mediterranean and has silvery leaves which are designed to resist heat.

Morris added: “That’s why they thrive in the baked lavender fields of Provence!”


This plant is also known as Russian sage and is a great shrub that thrives in “baking temperatures”.

The silvery leaves contrast with brilliant violet-blue flower spikes that appear in late summer and autumn.

These look great when paired with lavenders – which will flower first – for flowers all the way through from early summer through to late autumn.

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These small, tough shrubs are also known as cotton lavenders which love the heat.

They almost smell aromatic and have “perfectly formed button shape flowers” which can be yellow or cream.

There are silver, green, and golden leaf varieties.

Convolvulus cneorum

This is a “stunning little shrub” with striking silvery leaves and saucer-shaped flowers which have a yellow centre.

These feel “right at home” in any gardens that are a sun trap and look great when paired with mauve or purple flowers like hardy geraniums.

Drought-resistant hedges


The native beech likes well-drained soil and is a great drought-resistant hedge.

Established beech hedges often grow strongly in a heatwave, far more so than in a cool, wet summer.


Yew is another native hedging plant that likes dry conditions.

Taxus baccata or English Yew is known as the “King of Hedges” and is one of Hopes Grove Nurseries’ most popular choices for formal evergreen hedging.


These are versatile shrubs with a really strong drought-loving constitution.

The glossy, evergreen leaves look great all season and will support a succession of small, tubular flowers that begin in June and last until at least October.

Abelia is a modest-sized garden hedge which would work as an evergreen shrub in a flower border.

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Olearia macrodonta or daisy bush is a shrub with large silvery leaves that look like a holly.

Morris said: “During the summer they produce large heads made of masses of tiny daisy-like flowers.

“While this is a great seaside plant as the salty winds don’t harm them, they are also very drought tolerant indeed.”

Drought resistant perennials and ground cover


The yarrow is a staple cottage garden plant that comes in a wide range of colours from brick red through to terracotta, pink, lilac yellow and white.

They are tough in every sense and that includes putting on a great show in the driest of summers, especially when paired with grasses and daisy type flowers in a prairie-style planting.


Better known as elephants ears, these make good ground cover as they are evergreen and flower early before other perennials wake up in the spring.

Great for sun or a bit of shade, they relish hot summer temperatures with their oversized foliage making a great foil for colourful summer flowers.

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Morris said this is a popular plant that’s “virtually evergreen” and comes in a wide range of foliage colours.

These plants are ideal for gaps near the front of borders and make a great container plant.

They are pretty maintenance-free and look good in all four seasons.


Nepeta is also known as catmint and is a staple of English gardens.

It’s usually found covering soil or under rose bushes or sprawling over the edge of a path.

Their aromatic foliage releases its fragrance when you brush past and the gorgeous blue flowers go on for months and months.

Verbena bonariensis

Morris said this is “one of the best plants for adding height” into borders while still being “transparent”.

The plant has striking, mauve flowers atop the tall stems.

Once planted, they will self-seed prolifically, and will appear in various places.

Drought-resistant grasses


Briza media is also known as quaking-grass which forms a tight mound of semi-evergreen purple-tinged green leaves.

From late spring, the plant erupts with nodding flower stems carrying large numbers of perfectly formed locket-shaped flowers.

The highly ornamental flowers are very good for drying.


Pampas Grass has blade-like leaves and is perfectly adapted to hot weather.

Once established, Morris said it will never need watering.

The plant is grown for its tall and showy flowers that appear later in the summer.


Panicum is grown for its handsome, fountain-like, architectural foliage and attractive flower spikes which are composed of many tiny spikelets that appear as though they float on top of the leaves.

Panicum grasses have attractive autumn colour before turning to light brown as the foliage dies over winter.

Even then these versatile plants bring height to the garden.


Known as fountaingrasses, these enchanting plants will form a neat mound of narrow, green foliage.

During the summer, fluffy, ornamental flower heads will appear which move in the breeze.

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