Musings of a Plant Centre Manager: Dry Loving PlantsSunday 15th July 2018
Dry Loving Plants
It’s dry, very dry, and with that in mind this month we are looking at plants that will tolerate such conditions. Although they will tolerate such places it does not mean that they will not need watering to help get them established. These plants will gradually acclimatise to the conditions and will need less watering as they mature.
Agapanthus ‘Midnight Star’
This is a beautiful deep blue flowered form of Agapanthus that is not too tall. Flowers are produced on strong upright stems from July into August. Agapanthus are great plants for areas of the garden where you may get rabbits as they are toxic and rabbits don’t like them.
All Agapanthus love a sunny spot be it in a pot or in the ground. There are so many to choose from but two of my other favourites are A. ‘Torbay’, which flowers reliably every year with clear blue flowers, and A. ‘Twister’; a relatively new form which has bi-coloured flowers of blue and white.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Purpureum’
This is a great little alpine plant that loves it warm and dry. Grown for its purple-grey foliage which has a silvery bloom, Sedum spathulifolium ‘Purpureum’ forms dense clumps which are sometimes topped by yellow flowers when mature. Ideal for rock gardens and alpine troughs.
Shorter than the more well-known Verbena bonariensis and therefore more suited to areas where there is more exposure. Just like V. bonariensis, V. ‘Lollipop’ produces well branched shoots that are topped by clusters of purple flowers which bees and butterflies love. This will need watering regularly in the first year to get it established but acclimatises well in drier areas of the garden. Can also look great in containers.
Crinum powellii ‘Alba’
Large long glossy leaves appear from tall swollen bulbs in late spring, followed by tall elegant flower spikes which terminate in large dramatic pure white flowers. These flowers have a light fragrance. Bulbs must be planted in well-drained soil with half to two thirds of the bulb above the soil, this will ensure that the bulb flowers well each year.
If you are looking for low maintenance and something for year round display then you cannot beat the Sempervivums. These drought tolerant beauties are great for containers or crevices in walls where they will form these little neat rosettes. If you are lucky then they will produce little spikes of pink flowers in summer. You often see these grown on house roofs as they need little soil to live. They are supposed to ward off Witches if you do have them on the roof!
Geranium ‘Red Admiral’
Magenta red flowers are produced in great numbers throughout the summer, above dense clumps of foliage. If it becomes too leggy and looks tired just cut it back hard to about 2 inches above the ground. It will soon produce new foliage and flowers, rejuvenating it for another striking show for several months.
Eryngium ‘Pens Blue’
Silvery-blue pin-cushion like flower clusters are produced from early summer above glaucous blue, slightly spiny leaves. It only reaches 2ft tall and this makes it ideal for planting in the middle or front of borders. Good insect plant. There are lots of varieties of these drought tolerant plants about these days, and some of my other favourites are E. varifolium ‘Miss Marble’ which has variegated foliage and very spiky flower stalks, E. planum ‘Blue Hobbit’ which is a good blue and compact and E. planum ‘Jade Frost’ which has unusual variegated foliage which is pink tinged at the start of the year.
Albizia julibrissin f. rosea
An unusual tree which thrives in sheltered warm sites and can make quite a statement. The branches can be quite spreading and large leaves made up of multiple pinnate leaflets give it a tropical look which is enhanced even more when the fluffy pink and white flowers appear in July. This plant will tolerate some dryness but does need water to keep it happy but I just had to include it whilst it was flowering!
Jobs for July.
Flowered Herbaceous Perennials – a lot of early spring flowering herbaceous perennials have flowered and are now running to seed such as Geranium phaeum or Salvias. These can be ‘Hampton Hacked’ now. This means that they can be cut down to about 1-2 inches above the ground removing all flower stems and in the case of Geraniums all of the leaves as well. This encourages them to come back looking fresh and green and in most cases will encourage new flowers to be produced giving you more colour later in the year.
Wisteria- July is the month to think about shortening back all of the excess growth that Wisteria may have produced. Tie in the growth you want to keep to cover the support and then trim any unwanted growth back to 4-6 buds. This encourages the plant to produce flowering spurs which will increase the show that your plant gives you over the coming years. These cut back shoots should be trimmed again in March to 2 buds, whilst the plant is dormant, creating a neat framework of branches.
Mulch- if you are watering madly, like me, in your garden you may be thinking “How can I make this water last a bit longer?”. Well, mulch might be an answer. Once you have watered your beds and borders an application of mulch can help reduce the evaporation of the water allowing the plants to stay a bit wetter for longer. We have heard of the risk of hosepipe bans in the near future if we do not get any rain and so mulching will help to keep the garden going until the rain arrives.
Strulch is a mulch that is made up of composted straw and comes in large sacks which are lightweight and easy to transport. If this is not something that you can get hold of then your own home-made garden compost will do just as well. You need to apply a mulch of at least 2 inches deep to help reduce the water lost by evaporation from the garden. Make sure that the mulch does not touch the stems of the plants you are mulching as it can be acid and burn some plants.
PCM Matt< Back to Monthly Blog