Best drought tolerant plants

These drought tolerant plants will come in handy in sunny, south-facing gardens – or during a heatwave

Drought tolerant plants: Geranium sanguineum var. striatum
(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

Every garden will benefit from drought tolerant plants, but especially gardens with dry, chalky soil, or those that face south. And if we have another summer heatwave, you'll be glad you planted up some of these varieties: your garden will look nicer, and you'll still be providing pollinators with food during extreme weather. 

When you've chosen the drought tolerant plants you like from our list, find out how to prepare your garden for a heatwave. Then head to our ultimate garden ideas gallery.

1. Russian sage

This gorgeous variety of sage grows tall and is full of silvery purple flowers in late summer. The perennial makes a great addition to tall borders and dies back during winter.

Maintenance: Cut back in March to promote a bushier growth; mulch after pruning.

Soil type: Well-drained, poor to moderately fertile.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Find more low-maintenance garden plants in our guide.

drought tolerant plants: Perovskia 'Blue Spire'

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

2. Geranium sanguineum var. striatum

This variety of native geranium is a drought tolerant plant, like many native geranium species. The pretty veined flowers add plenty of interest to borders or rock gardens.

Maintenance: Deadhead regularly to prolong flowering period. 

Soil type: Fertile, well-drained soil.

Where to plant: In full sun or partial shade.

Drought tolerant plants: Geranium sanguineum var. striatum

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

3. Sea holly

Sea holly is a wonderful drought-tolerant plant for adding texture to your planting scheme; its spiky blooms are distinctive and bold. Flowers in July and August. 

Maintenance: Lift and divide large colonies in spring. 

Soil type: Dry, well-drained, poor to moderately fertile soil.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Find more pretty purple plants for your garden in our guide.

Drought tolerant plants: Sea holly

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

4. Gaura

This delightfully delicate drought tolerant perennial has slender, wispy stems, with a haze of white flowers appearing every May through to September. A great addition to natural-looking planting schemes. 

Maintenance: Cut back and lift and divide large colonies in spring.

Soil type: Fertile, well-drained soil.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Drought tolerant plants: Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

5. Sedum

Sedum are fascinating plants with fleshy leaves and a variety of shapes and textures. They make excellent container and window box plants, and don't need much care.

Maintenance: Avoid overwatering, especially during active growth in spring.

Soil type: Moderately fertile, well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Find more ideas for container gardening in small spaces.

Drought tolerant plants: Sedum collection

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

6. Dierama

This graceful, wispy plant, commonly known as 'Angel's Fishing Rod', is surprisingly resilient. The stems are slender but tough, making it suitable for windy spots. Once established, this plant does well with little water. Flowers throughout summer. 

Maintenance: Water well while growing.

Soil type: Humus-rich, well-drained soil.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Dierama pulcherrimum

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

7. Lavender

A gardeners' favourite for millennia, lavender is an unfussy, useful perennial that is bee friendly, pet friendly, and one of the best plants for health. And it will happily go without water for a little while during the summer. 

Maintenance: Cut back when finished flowering; prune gently in spring, avoiding cutting into old growth.

Soil type: Moderately fertile, well-drained soil.

Where to plant: Full sun.

Traditional plant lavender

(Image credit: photograph Leigh Clapp)

More garden plants:

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.