The needs of drought tolerant plants are very different from others from high summer rainfall regions. Generally speaking they need little or no water in the summer, once they are established, but of course that does depend on how hot and dry the summer and pre-ceeding spring/winter have been and also how quickly you would like the plant to grow. Oleanders for example will grow very slowly unless you water them well for the first 3-4 years, although others, in my experience, will grow more slowly if you water them (such as Arbutus, although these are very slow in any event).
All the plants recommended in these pagesg have a grading system from 1 to 5 for drought tolerance:
• 1-2, require summer watering (usually to promote flowering , 2 once or twice a month, 1 once or twice a week). Most of these plants are not Mediterranean natives but adapt well to this climate with a little water.
• 3, requires no water in this region once established if planted in open ground; this does not mean that the plant will not look stressed in summer, it may lose leaves, go dormant or shrivel, that is how it is adapted to survive.
• 4-5, require no water in this region and can be planted in drier locations (such as at the foot of walls, sunny rain shadow under trees, etc.)
I find it best to group drought tolerant plants together according to their water needs; plant attractive 1-2 group plants around swimming pools or terraces, mulch thickly and use part shade areas to lessen heat stress on plants and thereby reduce watering. Plants in the 4-6 group work best away from the house in hot dry areas.
Too much water will actually harm very drought tolerant plants and cause fungal diseases and shorten their life – this is why lavenders, rosemaries and Caenothus have a reputation for being short lived in damper climates.Water is best applied during the night or early in the morning, always soak the plant deeply, never spray the leaves with water – at least 10 litres for a medium sized bush. Roots will then be encouraged to move down wards in search of more water.
All the plants listed in these pages have been grown for some years at south of France hotel and the comments on them are based on our actual experiences; this is not a ‘cut and paste’ job from other gardening websites. A lot of misleading information about gardening is published that way and this is how a lot of gardening ‘myths’ get promulgated! (e.g. pine needles are extremely acid – there is no evidence at all that this is the case, bamboos are very invasive and run like mad – well tropical species might but not others, Camellias need to be watered every day, etc.)
Drought Tolerant Plants
Drought tolerant annuals
Drought tolerant climbers
Drought tolerant perrenials and shrubs
Drought tolerant trees
Drought tolerant grasses
Drought tolerant groundcover
Drought tolerant container plants