Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wanted - Native plants for drought and shade


"For my eco-house, the council advise indigenous plants that are drought resistant. Do you have any ideas?  
I have a few shallow-ish planting areas. One in shady area. One is area that only gets sun for half the day. 

 I also have two large planters in front of property/in wall. Wanted something that flowered for a long time. Any ideas?  


Drought resistant indigenous plants...

A good website to look at to check what might be native near you is:

I tend to plant things I like whether or not they are indigenous - there are lots of great wildlife plants that aren't necessarily native to the UK.  Lavender is brilliant if you have any dry sunny bits - it will grow in less than full sun but doesn't do as well and gets straggly even more quickly.  I also love verbena bonariensis which is drought tolerant and, in my garden,  has grown in areas which do not get full sun for more than half the day.  I also love (as do bees) Knautia macedonica and globe artichokes.  Angelica is also brilliant for bees.
Non-native but much loved by bees - Knautia Macedonia
Cowslip - will self seed and multiply

Dryopteris fern and Mourning Widow geranium (cranesbill family)

Shade loving natives would include things like wood anemones,  ferns (e.g dryopteris), cranesbill, cowslips (but cowslips like a bit of damp). The ferns, cranesbill and anemones would be happy under trees and fairly drought tolerant.  Alchemilla molls (ladies mantle) would be happy too.

Dog rose and guelder rose are pretty tough, as are oxeye daisies (but are thuggish invaders after a while). They grow in pretty dry conditions at the bottom of my garden close to large trees, so I think would cope with your conditions.  Teasels seem to cope with less than full sun, as do yarrow (achillea)  All of these are happy in poor soil as well, so should be OK for your partly shaded area.

As for your planters, I think you are being a bit hopeful to find something that will flower for 'a long time' - especially as containers tend to run out of nutrients pretty quickly - why not look for something with long lasting interest instead : you could always put in something evergreen and structural like a standard holly, for example, and underplant it with other things for seasonal interest - cowslips, ivy, etc in spring, native cyclamen (sow bread) etc - and whatever else takes your fancy as the year goes on.

Remember also that containers are going to have significantly higher watering needs than plants directly in the ground.  I always forgot to water my container by the front door as it was screened by the big gates to the garden, and my own standard holly eventually keeled over in protest (after a couple of years of criminal neglect).  If you don't want to water regularly, consider making planting pockets in the ground rather than having containers.  You may still need to water sometimes though because of the rain-shadow of the wall.

Hope this helps.

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