Ornamental plants use unique adaptive mechanisms to overcome the negative effects of drought stress. A large number of species grown in the Mediterranean area offer the opportunity to select some for ornamental purposes with the ability to adapt to drought conditions. The plants tolerant to drought stress show different adaptation mechanisms to overcome drought stress, including morphological, physiological, and biochemical modifications. These responses include increasing root/shoot ratio, growth reduction, leaf anatomy change, and reduction of leaf size and total leaf area to limit water loss and guarantee photosynthesis. In this review, the effect of drought stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll a
fluorescence is discussed. Recent information on the mechanisms of signal transduction and the development of drought tolerance in ornamental plants is provided. Finally, drought-induced oxidative stress is analyzed and discussed. The purpose of this review is to deepen our knowledge of how drought may modify the morphological and physiological characteristics of plants and reduce their aesthetic value—that is, the key parameter of assessment of ornamental plants.
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