Perennials for dry, poor soil

It's possible to have a garden that does not need watering. The plants we have chosen for you can withstand summer drought.

The origins of perennials for dry, poor soil

The native natural environments of these perennials inform us about their growing needs. These plants adapted to dry, hot summers, and moist or damp winters and springs. Heavy, clay soils, which are damp in winter, are obviously to be avoided. The same applies to rich soils which can produce unsightly growth or, more importantly, the appearance of root rot.

Perennials for dry, poor soil thrive in light, gravelly soil that is well-drained in winter. They naturally find their place in the rockery or gravel garden. As they have limited appetites, they are also well-suited for growing in pots, planters, troughs or on dry walls. Most need to be grown in full sun; dry shade is another, distinct category.

These plants are often native to Mediterranean environments, coastal regions in Europe, Africa, or the western United States (California). As a result, their hardiness varies according to the species, from Zone 9 to Zone 7, which will affect their growing conditions,

A scent of Mediterranean scrubland in my garden! Thyme, lavender and oregano will all grow well and have evolved to survive drought. Grasses also have their place in a dry garden. Stipa, Festuca will bring a light touch and luminosity, Eragrostis et Muhlenbergia will provide warm colour effects.

From a landscaping perspective, combining plants from the same geographical environment will make it possible to reproduce, unfailingly, harmonious compositions.

Perennial plants for dry soil - Origanum vulgare

Origanum vulgare L. (Origanum hirtum Link)
Sturm, J., Sturm, J.W., Deutschlands flora, vol. 20 (1845-1849)

Growing in dry soil

If your soil is naturally poor and stony, the adaptation of these plants will not be problematic. You can prepare a planting mixture of equal parts garden soil, coarse sand and good horticultural compost. Xerophilic plants, adapted to dry environments, have mostly developed strong root systems, either in the form of a vast network of root hairs or by the formation of deeply-anchored taproots. This means the planting hole should be properly prepared by breaking up the soil both depth- and width-wise Your pickaxe, ice-axe and crowbar may all be needed!

If you want to establish a Mediterranean-type garden in loam, your first task is to check the acidity of the soil. Most perennials and grasses for a dry environment prefer a soil that is slightly acid to alkaline. The proportion of draining elements will simply be increased when preparing the planting mix with the addition, if necessary, of calcium amendment, bearing in mind that in a rich soil their growth can be vigorous, inharmonious and their longevity reduced.

Many of these plants have succulent foliage and a cushion habit. Well-drained soil is not enough to grow them successfully! Protecting the plant’s collet with a little gravel mulch 3 cm deep will improve aeration and, in most cases, be sufficient to ensure that the plant gets through the delicate times of cold, damp winters.

What about organic mulch? Most of these plants suffer from too much damp in winter and overrich soil. It is better to avoid organic mulches and use instead a mineral mulch 3–4 cm deep (8/15 mm gravel). After pruning or flowering, micro-cuttings and seeds can easily take root and the naturalisation process can begin.

And what about plastic mulch? In the amateur garden, planting on plastic sheeting is agronomic nonsense!/p>

A garden with no watering

In dry climates (Mediterranean basin, seaside, etc.) it is preferable to plant in autumn; the young plants will take advantage of winter and early spring rains to take root before the summer drought. Any planting carried out in the spring needs to be more closely monitored. Some watering may be necessary during the first growing year.

However, automatic sprinkling or drip irrigation can be detrimental to your perennial plants for dry and poor soils as they can encourage root or leaf rot.

To conclude, let's just restate that to succeed in your garden, you must simply choose your future plants according to the growing conditions, including the type of terrain and soil and the climatic conditions. To help you make the right choices, please use our advanced search engine, The Right Plant in the Right Place, and browse our information on the gravel garden.

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