HOW TO CHOOSE PLANTS FOR HOT, DRY BORDERS



With the promise of another hot summer our gardens are once again at risk from another wave of hose pipe bans. Apart from recycling old bath and rain water there are two other ways of dealing with this. Either use plants that suit the environment or manipulate the environment to suit your plants - the first way is easier.

When it comes to choice, the plants themselves can offer clues to their suitability recognised by their various coping strategies. Keep an eye out for leaves that are either succulent or have a silvery sheen caused by specialist hairs or scales. These hairs reflect heat and light, retaining a thin blanket of humid air around the leaf which reduces water loss. The scales work in a similar way but also act as a barrier protecting juvenile growth. Commonly witnessed on Elaeagnus and dwarf Rhododendrons species these scales are often mistaken for disease and sometimes removed often causing more harm than good. However if you want to be sure of buying the right plants, check out below for my list of recommended plants for hot and dry conditions.

Alternatively if you want a quick fix, try planting African summer bedding. Cultivars of Gazanias, Mesembryanthemums, Osteospermums, and Geraniums will all give a tough, drought tolerant, yet spectacular show of colour throughout the summer.

Of course you can always cheat by manipulating the local environment to suit your required conditions. This is all about keeping as much water in the ground as possible so that there is enough available to sustain healthy growth.

Although commonly used to prevent weed growth, landscape fabric or the more heavy duty Mypex is an extremely effective control against soil water loss through evaporation. In addition Polyacrylamide crystals or ‘Swell Gel’ – a product of the nappy industry – is also used as a popular method for retaining moisture in hanging basket composts. Used sparingly and it can be mixed in with your usual compost when planting out in the garden, however use too much and over watering can cause your newly planted stock to lift straight out the ground.

The harsh growing conditions of summer can be exaggerated in beds sited next to brick walls so its one to keep an eye on. Once heated by the sun, these walls can act like enormous wicks drawing moisture from the soil and turning it into unsustainable dust. To prevent this, dig the soil away from the wall and then line where it touches the soil with heavy duty plastic. The soil can then be dug back into place although organic matter will probably need to be added in order to rejuvenate it.

HARDY PLANTS FOR DRY, SUNNY BORDERS

Below are just a selection of the most popular varieties of plants that are suitable for planting in hot, dry beds. However, with all of these plants, they need to be established first before they left to defend for themselves - and that will of course mean some watering, especially for young and newly planted plants. Usually by the second year they can pretty much fend for themselves but remember they are not desert plants, so if you want them to thrive instead of merely survive, water them - just don't over-water them!

Acaena species......................Achillea species
Armeria maritima................Bergenia species
Ceanothus species................Cheiranthus species
Cistus species........................Convolvulus
Cytisus species......................Dianthus species
Eryngium species..................Gaillardia species
Genista lydia..........................Hypericum species
Junipers species....................Lavander species
Mahonia species....................Miscanthus species
Hardy ornamental Sages......Rosemary species
Santolina chamaecyparis....Sedum species
Sempervirens species...........Stachys byzantina - lamb's ears
Tamarix..................................Thymus species
Verbascum species................Weigelia species
Yucca species


For related article click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW YUCCA GLORIOSA 'VARIEGATA'
HOW TO GROW YUCCA PLANTS
Telegraph - hot plants
WHAT IS A YUCCA?
YUCCA FLACCIDA
YUCCA WHIPPLEI

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