Drought tolerant plants: which type of plant can survive amid UK water shortage - from lavender to rock rose

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These are the best plants which will survive in your garden with little water

The UK is bracing itself for the second heatwave in just a few weeks, with growing fears that an official drought may be declared.

More hosepipe bans are being declared across the country as people prepare to bask in - or hide from - temperatures which are expected to peak at around 35c.

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The water levels in reservoirs and rivers is much lower than usual for this time of year as there haven’t been any prolonged periods of rain for a few months.

The Met Office has also warned that “very little meaningful rain” is forecast in the UK in the coming weeks.

All of this has led to people wondering how they are going to keep their gardens looking healthy.

One of the best ways to ensure this is to choose drought resistant plants.

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But, just what plants will survive best on little water, and will there be a drought in the UK?

Here’s what you need to know.

21 types of plant that are drought tolerant and can survive in UK with little water, including lavender.21 types of plant that are drought tolerant and can survive in UK with little water, including lavender.
21 types of plant that are drought tolerant and can survive in UK with little water, including lavender. | Syda Productions - stock.adobe.c

Are there any drought tolerant plants in the UK?

Yes, there are a number of plants which have some good drought tolerant properties.

Many drought tolerant plants have silver or grey-green leaves and their light leaf colour reflects the harsh rays of the sun.

Some have a coating of fine hairs on their leaves or stems which helps to trap moisture around the plant tissues.

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The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has helpfully listed the best plants with those properties.

Here are some of the most common, but you can see the full list on the RHS website.

  • Judas tree
  • Golden rain tree
  • Hop tree
  • Lavender
  • Blue spire
  • Silver jubilee
  • Sacred bamboo
  • Pot marigold
  • Californian poppy
  • Sunflower
  • Constance elliott
  • Night phlox
  • Rock rose
  • Spanish broom
  • Silver baby
  • Geums
  • Hardy geraniums
  • Bearded irises
  • Nepeta
  • Sea hollies
  • Sedums

What is the meaning of a drought?

The "prolonged dry weather" status is the first of four drought categories.

The second "drought" stage hinges on when the rain returns, and whether it adds up to more or less than usual.

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If areas did move into the second "drought" stage, water companies could limit non-essential domestic and commercial water use, or apply for special permits to extract extra water from the environment.

Will there be a drought in England?

England could be facing drought in August if the hot and dry weather continues.

The country is not in widespread drought but most of England - except for the North West - has moved into a state of “prolonged dry weather”.

This is the step before drought is declared and raises the issue of restrictions, such as hosepipe bans which have already been declared in some parts of the country.

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The last time drought was declared was back in 2018, but with continued dry weather in recent months it is possible another could be declared.

What happened during the drought of 1976?

The heatwave of 1976, which took place 46 years ago, was one of the longest in living memory and triggered the most significant drought for at least the last 150 years.

The hottest temperature recorded during the summer of 1976 was 35.9 °C.

The soaring temperatures led to their being a severe drought.

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The effect on domestic water supplies led to the passing of a Drought Act 1976 by parliamentand Minister for Drought, Denis Howell, was appointed.

There was widespread water rationing and public standpipes in some affected areas.

Parts of the south west went 45 days without any rain in July and August.

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