Drought Tolerant Plants need less water

Photo credit: CJAD

The August long weekend is nearly here and no doubt you have big plans to weed and water your garden with your precious time off.  What a silly idea.  No one plans to stand at the end of a hose applying water to their plants when they can be doing something more useful and/or fun.

Use Less Water: Plant Drought Tolerant Plants

by Mark Cullen

Here is a list of my five favourite plants that require minimal moisture.  Note that you can plant any of these now and you will find a wide assortment of them at full service garden centres everywhere.  Note that everything you plant will require watering for the first few weeks after planting.


  1. Geraniums.  The annual flowering plants that you grow in window boxes and in your garden bloom all summer and basically made the Germans famous as gardeners.  It has been said that if you took all of the geranium-planted window boxes in Germany and put them end to end they would circle the globe 4 times (this has yet to be verified, but it is a good story).  Visit Germany, see for yourself.

While among the most prolific flowering plants on the planet they are also quite tolerant of extended periods of drought.  Not ‘bone dry’ drought but the kind of dryness that occurs when you leave for an extended weekend and return to an otherwise wilted garden.  There are the geraniums, blooming away and standing more or less as they should.  Not so petunias, New Guinea impatiens or a host of other annuals.

  1. The other geraniums.  The above mentioned geraniums are not geraniums at all, they are members of the genus Pelargonium.  Someone thought it would be fun to confuse us by attaching a common name that has nothing to do with the official classification.  Alas, ‘confusing you’ will never happen when you are in my capable hands.

The real geranium (Geranium spp.) is a perennial garden performer and I love it.  When people ask me how to grow grass under their Norway Maple (which is nearly impossible) I ask them if they would consider planting perennial geraniums instead.  It is a great low growing, perennial flowering ground cover or rockery plant and all members of the family tolerate dryness.

  1. Echinacea.  The stuff that you ingest when you feel a cold coming on is derived from the root of a native plant by the same name. The common name is ‘purple cone flower’.  The original species is purple, it produces ‘cones’ while flowering that are loaded with pollen and (later in the season) seeds.  Butterflies forage on the pollen in droves and gold finches harvest the seeds throughout fall and winter.


Read the full article: CJAD


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.