Here in the UK, 2020 looks to be hot again. In southern Wakefield where I live, there has been little rain since the end of March and as not much is forecast, this could beat 2018 for the dryness through summer. The summer of 2018 was particularly long with little rain again between mid-May and September. As the climate changes, it looks to be the new normal and will require some changes in the way we garden in the UK.
My aim with this page is to document some things which can help maintain plants and gardens in long, dry conditions where hosepipe bans, water shortages and water curfews may be in place. Most of these are listed for more own recollection, almost certainly into future years, though hopefully this will be of some use.
- Go into mid-March with full water butts (water barrels), if possible. Although rains should regularly continue into May, this year (2020) seems to have bucked the trend. Having full water butts should provide a good start to the gardening year.
- Use grey water from hand-washing, showers, and cooking where possible during dry spells. This isn't ideal for some plants, but it is much better than nothing at all. Add a tomato feed to provide some additional nutrition.
- Hard prune larger shrubs, and use the removed leaves/small branches as a mulch around bare patches of land. Removal of excess growth can slow water loss for the shrub, and using the waste as a mulch can help retain moisture in the ground.
- Identify important plants. If water shortages are on the cards, look at which plants should be considered priorities for watering over others. It is probably preferable to save shrubs which are large, rare, or expensive if the conditions are that bad.
- Propagate plants where possible, particularly if they are prone to dry conditions. The cuttings can then be watered, and will hopefully continue the plant if the parent does not make it. This also applies to tender plants which may not make it through cold winter months.
- Move pots into groups and/or shaded locations. Being out of the sun will reduce water consumption and evaporation. Windy conditions can also wick moisture from plants quickly, so a sheltered location is also beneficial. If moving pots to shade is going to be a problem, combining pots into groups stood together can also help reduce moisture loss.
- If significant water shortages are likely, rotate potted plants in-and-out of a garage, shed, or other shelter to aid the conservation of water.
Plants for Drought Conditions
Below are some plants which are suited to sites which are exposed to drought conditions.
|Sedum||Very tolerant of dry conditions, and love full sun conditions. Also offers the ability to propagate with ease.|
|Sempervivum||Tolerant of hot and dry conditions, and produce offsets which are simple to pot on.|
|Salvia||Native to the Mediterranean, so will cope with most British summer conditions without much fuss.|
|Santolina||A Mediterranean plant known as 'Cotton Lavender', which is suitable for dry, sunny conditions.|
|Lavendula||Lavender plants are well known for their drought tolerance, due to the grey-green leaves which retain moisture.|
|Ulex||Also known as Gorse, these can thrive in sandy, dry soils in exposed locations, such as coastlines.|
|Cordyline||Cordyline's are suited to dry conditions, due to their thin leaves which do not lose much water through evaporation.|
|Yucca||Yucca are ideally suited to locations with small amounts of rain, with their native range being the North American deserts.|