Plants for Dry Situations


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Dry gardens are a challenge. The old rule of right plant, right place is especially true for dry gardens. Success is achieved by using plants that naturally grow in dry situations, and working with nature.
There are two types of dry situations, full sun and shade. Caroline Wesseling LandscapesLook for plants with silver or grey leaves and succulents for dry situations in full sun. There are many popular perennials suitable for dry, shady areas. Dig in plenty of compost, lawn clippings and as much organic material you can lay your hands on. Mulch plants well in summer.

When to plant

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Autumn is the best time to plant to capture as much of the winter rain as possible so plants are established before summer.

How to plant

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It is important plenty of compost, mulch and organic material is dug into the soil before planting. Dig the planting hole twice the width and depth of the root ball. Dig in compost and organic material. Add Blood & Bone or Butlers Sheep Manure Pellets to the planting hole and mix in well.

Soak the plant in a bucket of water before planting. Remove Caroline Wesseling Landscapesthe plant from its container, run a sharp knife down the root ball in several places to encourage new roots. Place the plant in the hole and firm soil around it. Plant to the depth of the plant's original container. Water well.


Use a Complete Garden Fertiliser at the recommended rate in spring. Water fertiliser in well.


For trees and shrubs to thrive in dry conditions, mulching is very important. Mulch in late winter / early spring and again in mid summer. Mulching keeps weeds down and retains soil moisture.


Regular watering will be required to get plants established. Caroline Wesseling LandscapesInstall an inground irrigation system to make the job less labour intensive and guarantee success. Deep watering once a week is more effective than light watering.

What to Plant

Ceanothus.jpgLavender Hidcote.jpgTrees and Shrubs for dry situations
In exposed situations, trees and tall shrubs will need to be staked to help them become established.

Acacia (Wattle), Adenandra, Albizzia (Silk Tree), Banksia, Callistemon (Bottle Brush), Ceanothus, Cistus, Erica, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Juniper, Laurus nobilis (Bay Tree), Lavender, Leucospermum, Leucadendron, Metrosideros, Olea (Olive), Prostanthera, Pimelia, Protea, Pseudopanax, Raphiolepsis, Rosemary, Yucca

Perennials for dry situations

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Perennials tend to be less tolerant of dry conditions, but given protection by larger trees and shrubs, are very rewarding.Caroline Wesseling Landscapes

Achillea (Yarrow), Artemisia, Arctotis, Bergenia, Echinacea, Euphorbia, Gaura, Gazania, Helianthemum, Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker), Nepeta (Catmint), Osteospermum, Phormium (Flax), Salvia, Sedum.

Bulbs for dry situations

Summer flowering bulbs are the best to grow in dry situations.

Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily), Allium (Ornamental Onion), Freesia, Galtonia, Hippeastrum, Ixia, Lachenalia, Nerine, Scilla, Spraxia.

Climbers for dry situations

Climbers do well in dry situations but require protection from prevailing winds. Mulch well in summer.

Bougainvillea, Campsis, Hardenbergia, Hedera (Ivy), Lonicera (Honeysuckle), Podranea, Trachelospermum.

Annuals for dry situations

Annuals are great to keep colour in the garden year round. They also give good ground cover.

Calendula, Celosia, Coreopsis, Echium, Eschscholtzia, Helipterum (Paper Daisy), Livingstone Daisy, Limonium (Statice), Petunia, Portulaca, Nasturtium.

Plants for dry shade

This is one of the most challenging areas of the garden as it is often underneath larger trees.

Alchemilla mollis (Ladies Mantle), Berberadopsis (Chilean Coral Vine), Buxus, Clivia, Hedera (Ivy), Hippeastrum, Hydrangea, Griselinia, Lapergeria (Chilean Bellflower).Caroline Wesseling Landscapes
This list is by no means comprehensive.

If you are still confused or in doubt of what to do contact Caroline at for a consultation