In many parts of the world, gardeners seek out drought resistant plants as an attractive and less resource-heavy way to decorate a garden. Although these plants have a reputation of being dull and not very showy, the truth is that there are some beautiful ones that can enhance any garden, not just one with a drought friendly or Mediterranean theme. In addition to using less water, they tend to be hardier and better able to stand up to weather extremes, pests, and other abuses. It should be noted that these plants are drought resistant, not drought proof, and they do require water and care.
Drought resistant plants fall into a number of categories, including ground covers, flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses, and everything in between. It is possible to fill a garden entirely with a profusion of colorful plants that will liven it up while not requiring too much water, making them better for the environment.
As a general rule of thumb, these plants should be heavily mulched to help them retain water. They should also be watered in the morning, rather than the evening, as the cooler night weather combined with the water may cause them to rot. Mulch doesn't have to be expensive — many gardeners use newspaper, though not glossy print. In addition to keeping the plant moist, it keeps down weeds and pests.
Some drought resistant flowers include the Dahlberg daisy, a bright yellow flower that grows about 1 foot (30.48 cm) tall, and members of the Salvia genus, which come in a dazzling array of colors and sizes. Four o'clocks, flowering tobacco, baby's breath, poppies, geraniums, lavender, sunflowers, periwinkle, alyssum, and verbena are other examples of drought resistant flowers. There are many others with a nice range of colors and sizes to enhance the garden.
Most grasses and vines are drought resistant, although the following species are particularly so: mallow, heather, sedge, blue fescue, switchgrass, sage, hens and chicks, honeysuckle, and periwinkle. In addition, many herbs, such as thyme, oregano, sage, and members of the mint family, do well in low-water conditions and can be used to create fragrant borders in the garden.
Shrubs and bushes include butterfly bush, clematis, witch hazel, juniper, arrowwood, roses, and cinquefoil. Shrubs can be used to establish low borders, to differentiate various parts of the garden, and to add dimension to planting. Some shrubs may require more pruning than others to maintain their shape and prevent them from taking over the garden. Luckily, like most drought resistant plants, shrubs are able to handle radical cutbacks, and in some cases, they like being clipped right to the roots and allowed to grow back in the next year.
There are also a number of drought resistant trees, such as oaks, cedars, fir, sumac, elders, and birch trees. Gardeners should be careful not to plant trees too close to the house or to each other. They should try to maintain open sunny areas and not block off all the available sun with a line of trees at the southern boundary of a garden. People who want more privacy can continue a hedge of some sort, which can be kept low and controlled.