10 plants for dry soil

It’s easy to assume that all plants benefit from rich, moist soil, but on the contrary there are hordes of plants that thrive in quite the opposite. To survive in these sun-baked, often shallow soils, plants have to be tough. Seldom bothered by pest or disease, they lend themselves to a more laid-back approach to gardening.


So if you’ve hit a dry spot in your garden, why not take a look our top 10 plants for dry soils, below.

Foxtail lilies (Eremurus)

The graceful flower spikes of foxtail lilies grow to a spectacular height and look elegant when grown among grasses. Look after their spider-like root systems with excellent drainage.


Stachys byzantina

The furry leaves of stachys make it look silvery but they also trap moisture, preventing it from escaping and drying out the plant. Remove any yellowing leaves before they start to rot.


Iris germanica

These bearded hybrids store moisture and nutrients in their rhizomes, so prefer a dry garden to damp, lush conditions. Ensure the rhizomes get full sun for best flowering.



In the Mediterranean, you can spot lavender growing out of pavement cracks, a testament to its tolerance of dry conditions. Trim back plants after flowering to keep them compact.


Sedum cauticola

Found on clifftops in Japan, sedums greet tough conditions with a flourish of low-growing, carmine-red, star-shaped flowers. Great for border edges and among paving.


Cardoon (Cyanara)

Related to artichokes, cardoons thrive in dry conditions with their silvery foliage, which reflects back strong sunshine. Leave the flowerheads in place for their statuesque winter form.


Knautia macedonia

This tough scabious heralds from Eastern Europe’s grasslands. A magnet for bees, plant among other low-growing plants to allow the flowerheads to ‘float’ in the breeze.


Melianthus major

Once thought only suitable for sub-tropical gardens, M. major are African natives that will tolerate low temperatures in free-draining soil. Cover the roots with straw in winter if you’re unsure.


Euphorbia characias

The flowering stems of E. characias are biennial, so only cut back those that have already flowered. Otherwise, this is perfect for low-maintenance areas. Take care when handling as the sap is toxic.


Teasels (Dipsacus)

A British native beloved by goldfinches, teasels both support wildlife and provide winter structure in a dry garden. Thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding.