Top 10 low-maintenance plants
No more watering cans and garden hoses. These are the ten drought-resistant plants that you rarely ever need to water.
Those who prefer to relax in summer instead of working in the garden are faced with a big problem. Especially in the hot summer months many plants require large amounts of water and have to be watered daily. But what if you didn’t have to make the dreadful choice between carrying heavy watering cans and withered plants? As a matter of fact, there is a wide range of plants that can survive even in extremely dry conditions and retain their splendour even without additional water. In the following, we will explain how to recognize drought-resistant plants and help you choose a low-maintenance plant to add to your garden.
Easy-care plants: characteristics of drought-resistant plants
Before we delve into the topic, it is important to establish which kinds of plants are resistant to drought and can handle not being watered regularly. Fortunately, there are a number of characteristics that are typical of plants that cope well with drought. A small tip: pay attention to the leaves of the plants. If they are fleshy and thick as the leaves of some succulents, grey-green or covered with leaf filaments, the plants are very likely adapted to withstand dry conditions.
The so-called tap roots, i.e. roots that reach deep into the soil, also ensure good tolerance to drought because they supply the plant with water even after the upper layers of the earth have dried out. Once you have decided on a drought-resistant plant to grow in your garden, there is still one other thing to keep in mind. Despite the plants being able to endure droughts, they are sensitive to waterlogging. Therefore, to make sure that the plant lives through autumn and winter too, it is imperative to plant it in a place with well permeable soil.
The 10 best plants that do not have to be watered
Do you want to save yourself the hassle of watering your plants all summer? Then these ten drought-resistant plants are just right for you.
The calliopsis (Coreopsis), also known under the name ‘tickseed’, will delight you with its colourful flowers even on hot summer days. The flowers cover this perennial from June to October and are the trademark of the plant. Recently, there have also been new hybrids, which flower in many different colours (we find yellow particularly beautiful!). Simultaneously, the calliopsis is extremely robust and survives droughts without a scratch, which make it a perfect plant to add to gardens in areas with blazing summers.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an inseparable part of the Mediterranean cuisine. This is completely understandable since the Mediterranean area is actually rosemary’s place of origin. Because of that, rosemary likes to be warm and prefers dry climates, which is why it hardly needs to be watered. The wonderful aroma of the shrub can enrich not just the kitchen but also the garden bed. The bush possesses an intense scent which gives gardens an exotic flair. In early spring, rosemary blooms in petite flowers that enchant the gardener and additionally attract plenty of insects into the garden.
With an impressive height of 1.5 to 2 m, the mulleins (Verbascum) are giants in the realm of plants. Only the purple mullein (Verbascum phoenicum) remains clearly smaller with a growth-height of maximum 70 cm and can easily fit into gardens that are less spacious, too. The flowers of the mulleins are really one of a kind. They are usually bright yellow in colour and stand upright, which makes the whole plant look like an overgrown candle. Apart from the sunshine yellow flowers, there are also hybrid varieties of mullein with new unusual colours. The mullein is native to rocky steppes and dry mountain slopes, therefore, dry summers are no problem for it. As a rule, this plant does not need additional water.
Sage (Salvia) is praised for its health benefits and is delicious in teas but it is also a wonderful plant to grow in the garden. There are many species of sage but all of them bless the garden with their violet, pink or white flowers, which, depending on the species, appear on the plant from May to September. But it is not only its healing powers and appearance that make sage so popular – its variability and robustness also contribute to the sage’s charm. There are many different sage varieties to choose from, from the classic medicinal plant such as the garden sage (Salvia officinalis) to the purely ornamental plant such as Salvia viridis. But they all have one thing in common: dryness does not usually harm the sage.
The poppy used to be present in every field, but it is sadly rarely seen today. The poppy genus (Papaver) grows sporadically here and there. Therefore, it is nice to be able to give a place to this stunning plant in your own garden. And the poppy deserves it: with its deep red blossom it takes everybody’s breath away. At the same time, the poppy is also very robust and can survive even prolonged dry periods unscathed. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it tends to develop fungal diseases when the humidity is too high. However, there are many subspecies of poppies and not all of them are suitable to grow at home. While you can cultivate the common poppy (Papaver rhoeans) or Oriental poppy (Papaver oreintale) in your own garden without any problems, the cultivation of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is prohibited in many countries.
Perovskia abrotanoides is a steppe plant that is best adapted to dry climates with blazing summers and little rainfall. The silver-grey colour of its shoots is not just beautiful, but also protects the plant from overheating by reflecting sunlight. Therefore, as a rule, the plant does not need to be watered; a little water is recommended only if droughts persist. The unusual leaf colour sure makes this plant one of a kind, but that is not all that Perovskia offers. Between July and October, the plant delights the gardener with numerous blue and violet flowers and the entire inflorescence can reach the height of up to 50 cm.
Low, compact, robust – Alyssum is all this and more. With its decorative flowers it is a low-maintenance plant perfect for gardeners with busy lives. Alyssum is known to thrive even in cracks in dry stone walls. One of the characteristics of this plant make it especially adapted to life in harsh and dry places: it’s hair-like filaments. Alyssum is covered with hair on its small leaves and because these are shielding the plant from drought, it seldom has to be watered. But this is not all that is exceptional about this plant. Alyssum’s flowers are the very definition of the word eye-catching. The bright yellow blossoms appear at the beginning of April and cover the plant in an army of flowers from head to toe (which the plant does not really have, but you get what we are saying). This plant also makes a stunning groundcover.
Droughts? No problem for the houseleek (Sempervivum) – this plant grows in areas where other plants stand no chance at all. This is probably the reason why the houseleek’s Latin name means ‘everlasting’. In fact, the houseleek can withstand extreme dryness and heat, but also sub-zero temperatures without any problems, which is why it is often used as a ground covering plant or is grown on roofs. In addition to its exceptional robustness, the plant is also distinguished by its grace and its numerous variations. There are well over 5000 varieties, which have all possible rosette shapes and sizes, but also leaf colours – from green to bright red.
2. Woolly hedgenettle
A plant covered with hair? Hair that protects it against dryness? This sure does sound weird, but these are the characteristics of the woolly hedgenettle (Stachys byzantina). Contrary to what one might assume about the hair-like filaments of the woolly hedgenettle, it is not there to keep the plant warm but to ensure that as little water as possible evaporates from the leaves. This enables the plant to survive even in particularly dry periods without irrigation. However, the leaves not only improve the plant’s tolerance to dryness, they also give it its unique appearance. With a little imagination, the leaves are reminiscent of animal ears, perhaps those of a bunny or a donkey, and are therefore great decorative element in the garden.
The stonecrop (Sedum) belongs to the real drought specialists – its fleshy, roundish leaves not only look decorative, but are also a valuable water reservoir that is lifesaving during severe droughts. So, it’s no wonder that the stonecrop survives long dry periods without watering and still does not wither. What is more, the stonecrop is a real all-rounder in the garden: the low-growing species of the stonecrop are pretty groundcovers, whereas the taller species such as the frog’s stomach (Sedum telephium) enhance garden beds with shrubs and are additionally a favourite of butterflies. Moreover, the plethora of adorable small flowers of the stonecrop are a feast for the eyes.
You can find a list of other low-maintenance plants for your garden here.