Plant Guide

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Dry

escallonia-apple-blossom

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom'

Evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green, finely toothed foliage and pale pink with white, 1 cm wide flowers for 1-2 months from early summer. Attracts bees.

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Prune to keep compact. Suitable for coastal gardens. Responds well to trimming. Frost hardy to about -12 deg. Celsius. Drought tolerant once established. Usually disease free, but may get brown scale.

Very pretty plant when in flower, but also a lovely foliage plant. Great choice for a fine-textured hedge. Not as vigorous as most other Escallonia hybrids, so requires less frequent pruning to maintain as a hedge. When intending to grow Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' as a single specimen, plant it towards the back of a border. The glossy dark green foliage is a beautiful foil for other flowering plants.

euryops-pectinatus

Euryops pectinatus

golden daisy bush, grey-haired euryops

Evergreen bushy shrub in the daisy family, native to South Africa. Finely divided grey-green, downy foliage. Silvery grey buds on white, downy stems, open to yellow daisies, to 6 cm across. Flowers virtually all year round in warmer climates.

Very versatile, unfussy plant. Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil, but tolerates a wide range of conditions, including drought and coastal exposure. Hardy to -120C. 

Prune to maintain size and shape. Great for winter colour. Mainly grown for its attractive flowers, but also useful as a beautiful grey green foliage plant that can be trimmed to a compact ball or bun shape or used as a hedge.

grevillea-robusta

Grevillea robusta

silky oak, silk oak, Australian silver oak

Large evergreen tree in the Proteaceae family, native to Australia, with a pyramidal to oval crown and fern-like foliage. Golden orange flowers, arranged in 8-16 cm long, bottlebrush-like racemes, on mature trees in spring-summer. Mid to dark green, divided leaves to about 30 cm long, with silky, silvery white undersides. Widely planted for timber, shelter, and ornamental purposes. Naturalised in many regions of the world. Has become invasive in some areas, such as Hawaii, Brazil, South Africa, and parts of Australlia, where it competes with the indigenous vegetation. Contains toxins. Leaves may cause skin irritation, and can inhibit establishment of other plant species. Attracts nectar-feeding birds.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Tolerates rather poor soils. Frost-tender when young, hardy to about -8 0C when mature. Reasonably drought tolerant once established. Suitable for coastal areas with protection from persistent, strong winds.

Beautiful tree when in flower, but needs plenty of space. It is not a tidy tree and produces quite a large amount of litter, in particular in winter just before the new leaves emerge. Young plants can be used as indoor foliage plants.

griselinia-littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

kapuka, papauma, broadleaf

Glossy bright green oval leaves 5 to 10 cm long and to 5 cm wide. Panicles of very tiny greenish flowers in spring. Occurs in forests throughout New Zealand. Grows as a tree up to 15 m high in nature, but is generally grown as a shrub or hedge in garden situations and maintained at a height of 1.5 to 4 m.

Will grow in a wide range of conditions. Prefers a sunny position, but also tolerates shade. Intolerant of excessively wet sites. Suitable for exposed areas. Quite drought tolerant once established. To keep the plant compact, prune once a year, preferably with secateurs (as opposed to pruning shears).  Hardy to -12 0C.

The fresh green foliage of Griselinia littoralis combines beautifully with divaricating plants such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, with flax-like plants and with taller grasses such as Chionochloa flavicans. Forms a good background for feature plantings, and perfect as a hedge.

griselinia-lucida

Griselinia lucida

puka, akapuka

Evergreen plant with large, glossy foliage, endemic to New Zealand where it is found in forests and coastal areas. Grows well as a shrub or tree in cultivation, but in its natural habitat, Griselinia lucida commences life as an epiphyte, perched high in tall trees, sending roots towards the ground. These roots can become quite thick and deeply furrowed. Eventually the plant may establish itself as an independent plant, but it usually  remains epiphytic and collapses when the host plant dies. The ovate to oblong leaves are thick and leathery, about 10-18 cm long and 4-10 cm wide. Leaf margins on either side are attached at different points to a 2-3 cm long petiole. Inconspicuous, male and female flowers on separate plants in spring. On female plants, the flowers are followed by 0.5-1 cm long fruits, green initially, and turning dark bluish purple to black later.

The common name 'puka' is also used for a different New Zealand native, Meryta sinclairii.

Griselinia lucida requires free-draining soil. Suitable for a position in full sun or shade. Leaves tend to be larger on plants grown in shady spots. Tolerant of wind and coastal conditions. Susceptible to Phytophtora (root rot). If the plant is sulking and its leaves are losing their gloss, dig it up, prune, and transplant (if there still are some healthy roots present) in a drier position. Prune to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts.

Attractive, lush foliage, perfect for a tropical themed garden. Often grown as a shrub, but can be trained to a single leader. Forms a lovely contrast with fine-leafed shrubs, such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, flax-like plants, and grasses like Chionochloa flavicans.

helichrysum-italicum

Helichrysum italicum

curry plant, immortelle, everlasting

Small evergreen shrub in the daisy family (Asteraceae), native to Southern Europe. Linear, silvery, curry-scented leaves. Clusters of yellow flower heads during summer. Essential oil extracted from Helichrysum italicum is used for medicinal purposes. 

Synonym: Helichrysum angustifolium.

Prefers a sunny position in light, well-draining soil, but can cope with semi-shade and somewhat heavier soils. Not tolerant of full shade. Suitable for poor soils. Drought-tolerant once established. Prune once or twice a year to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts to about -10oC.

The curry scent is very intense, so plant it where you can enjoy the aroma without it overpowering other fragrances in your garden. Helichrysum italicum forms a delicate colour and textural combination with purple sage (see photo gallery). I have used the leaves in cooking, but they did not actually seem to add anything in terms of taste. The flowers retain their colour well after cutting and drying.

helichrysum-petiolare-limelight

Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight'

limelight licorice plant

Evergreen, trailing shrub in the daisy family. Behaves as a climber when given support. Woolly, lime-green, rounded to ovate leaves with entire margins, 3.5 x 3.5 cm, emitting a mild licorice scent when crushed. Rarely flowers with insignificant creamy white flowers in late summer. The South African species Helichrysum petiolare is more vigorous and has become an invasive weed in several areas of the world, including New Zealand. The cultivar 'Limelight' won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1992.

Synonym: Helichrysum petiolare 'Aureum'.

Prefers partially shaded position in any well-drained soil. Will also grow in full sun or shade. Drought-tolerant once established. Usually pest-free, but may be affected by powdery mildew. OK for coastal gardens. Prune at any time of the year to keep tidy and compact. Tolerates light to moderate frosts of about -7 to -1 degrees Celsius (USDA zones 9-11).

Looks great when combined with dark green, bronze, or burgundy foliage. Also suitable for large containers.

jacaranda-mimosifolia

Jacaranda mimosifolia

blue Jacaranda, fern tree, black poui, Brazilian rosewood, blue haze tree

Fast growing, deciduous tree, native to South America, with a spreading crown, bright green, fern-like leaves and purplish blue flowers in late spring or summer. Belongs to the Bignoniaceae family. Large (to about 45 cm long) leaves, twice pinnately compound, divided into many smaller (to 1 cm long) leaflets, turning yellow in autumn. Tubular flowers, 2.5-5 cm long, grouped in 30 cm long clusters, forming a blue carpet after falling to the ground. Woody, 5 cm wide, reddish brown seed pods with many small, winged seeds. Widely grown as an ornamental tree. In some parts of the world (e.g. South Africa and Queensland, Australia) Jacaranda mimosifolia is regarded as an invasive plant, posing a threat to the native vegetation.

Synonyms: Jacaranda chelonia, Jacaranda ovalifolia.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and very well-draining soil. Drought tolerant. Not suitable for waterlogged or clay soils. Tolerates, but does not grow and flower as well in, partial shade. No pruning required. In fact, pruning tends to destroy the natural umbrella-shape of the canopy by encouraging the tree to produce vertical shoots. Survives brief spells of moderate frosts (to about -8oC).                                 

A gorgeous specimen or shade tree with magnificent flowers and delicate, graceful foliage, but make sure you have enough space. Not a tidy tree, so plant in a position where leaf and flower litter are not a problem. Flowers may stain hard surfaces.

jasminum-polyanthemum

Jasminum polyanthum

pink jasmine, white jasmine

Very vigorous evergreen climber native to China. Pinnately compound, dark green leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. Masses of reddish pink flowerbuds open during late winter and early spring (and intermittently during the rest of the year) to fragrant white, starry flowers, 2 cm across and 4 cm long, sometimes followed by small glossy black berries. Spreads quickly by producing long runners and forming roots where nodes are in contact with soil. Runners can even grow under buidlings since the plant is tolerant to full shade and drought. Is naturalised in Australia and New Zealand, and is regarded as an invasive species in several regions of these countries. Forms a dense ground cover, preventing the establishment of native seedlings and smothering other vegetation. 

Very easy to grow and propagate. Tolerant to a range of extreme conditions including sun, shade, drought, dampness, salt, and wind. Prune to keep compact and remove runners to prevent the plant from spreading elsewhere. If you wish to grow Jasminum polyanthemum in New Zealand or Australia check with the local authorities to make sure it is not banned in your area.

Grown for its strongly perfumed flowers and vigorous climbing habit. Suitable as an indoor plant.

kunzea-ericoides

Kunzea ericoides

kanuka, white tea tree, white manuka, burgan, tree manuka

Fast growing, evergreen shrub or small erect tree, occurring naturally in Australia and throughout New Zealand. Bright green, linear leaves, 1-2 cm long, releasing volatile oils when crushed. Small white flowers, 0.5-1 cm across, during summer. Similar to Leptospermum scoparium (manuka), but leaves are soft, whereas manuka leaves are prickly. Manuka flowers and seed capsules are larger, and the plant itself is smaller than kanuka. 

Synonyms: Leptospermum ericoides, Kunzea peduncularis.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil. Tolerates partial shade, drought, wind, poor soils, moderate frosts, and coastal conditions. Does not like wet feet. Frost-hardy throughout New Zealand. Usually free from pests and diseases. Difficult to transplant. Best planted in autumn with minimum root disturbance.

Used in revegetation projects as nurse plants, colonising open areas prior to the introduction of other plants. Under-utilised in gardens, but worth considering as a shelter tree or a specimen, planted as a solitary tree or in groups for its attractive branching pattern, vigorous growth, and profusion of flowers in summer.

lagunaria-patersonii

Lagunaria patersonii

Norfolk Island hibiscus, pyramid tree, Queensland white oak, itch tree, cow itch tree

Australian, evergreen tree or shrub with a columnar to pyramidal shape, endemic to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and parts of Queensland. Oval, olive to grey green leaves, 5-10 cm long. Flowering in summer and early autumn with hibiscus-like, 4-8 cm wide flowers, pale pink, fading to white. Stamens are arranged in a single, central column, typical for members of the Malvaceae (mallow family). Flowers are followed by furry seed capsules, filled with tiny hairs which are like fiber-glass splinters and cause itching and skin inflammation. Lagunaria patersonii 'Royal Purple' has crimson flowers.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Not suitable for heavy clay soils. Can handle considerable drought and copes well in poor soils. Ideal for coastal gardens and windy locations. Tolerates light frosts. 

Versatile plant for flower display during late summer. Suitable for screening and hedging purposes. Tends to have branches and foliage all the way along the stem from ground level, but can be grown as a clear-stemmed specimen by regularly removing new growth from the main trunk. The canopy is relatively narrow, so even though Lagunaria patersonii can grow quite tall, it is suitable for smaller spaces. Plant this tree in areas where the seed pods cannot pose problems (i.e. away from pools and public spaces, in particular those frequented by children). 

lavandula-dentata

Lavandula dentata

toothed lavender, French lavender, fringed lavender

Strongly aromatic evergreen shrub, woody at the base, with upright branches, grey-green leaves and lilac flowers for most of the year. Native to the Mediterranean region, the Cape Verde Islands and Madeira. Leaves are sticky, linear, 3-4 cm long, 0.5 cm wide. Easy to distinguish from other lavender species by the bluntly toothed leaf margins. Flowers are arranged in tight spikes, topped with pale purple bracts, to about 5 cm long on stems held above the foliage. Attracts bees and butterflies. Lavandula dentata does not have the typical lavender fragrance. Its smell is more aromatic than "flowery", rather like a blend of rosemary and lavender scents. 

Prefers a hot and sunny position in well-drained neutral to alkaline soil, not too fertile, but adapts well to a range of situations. It is tougher and less fussy in terms of growing conditions than most other lavender species. Susceptible to root rot in poorly drained soils. Very drought-tolerant once established. Tolerates light to medium frosts (to about -7oC). Prune after flowering to keep compact and remove spent flowers.

Mainly grown for its silvery grey foliage and subtle flowers. Suitable for topiary and hedging purposes. May also be grown in containers. Excellent choice for coastal gardens and for hot and dry areas.

lavandula-stoechas-patleigh

Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh'

Vigorous, upright and compact, evergreen shrub with purple flowers and showy pale yellow bracts in spring. The flowers themselves are tiny, but are tightly arranged in a spike-like inflorescence to about 4 cm long, or to 6 cm long including the terminal bracts. Opposite pairs of linear, aromatic, yelow-green leaves (approximately 4 cm x 0.5 cm). May self-seed, but seedlings do not necessarily have the exactly same appearance as the parents. Flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh' originated in New Zealand from a cross between two unnamed Lavandula stoechas parents.

Grows best in full sun and any soil type as long as it is well-draining. Tolerates wind, drought, and coastal conditions. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional flower production. Lightly prune in autumn to keep the plant compact. Tolerates moderate frosts only (zones 8-9).

I love the colour combination of the flowers. Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh' seems a particular tough plant. This would make a gorgeous low hedge. The leaves are aromatic (a rosemary-like scent rather than the fragrance of English lavender flowers)

leonotis-leonurus

Leonotis leonurus

lion's ear, lion's tail, wild dagga, red dagga, wild hemp, cape hemp, minaret flower

Evergreen shrub in the mint family (Lamiaceae), native to southern Africa. Flowering in late summer and autumn with bright orange, tubular flowers arranged in whorls along upright, four-angled stems. Becomes woody at the base and herbaceous elsewhere, so is more accurately specified as a sub-shrub. Opposite, densely hairy, linear leaves to 10 cm long by 2 cm wide. Is reported to have hallucinogenic and medicinal properties. Naturalised in various parts of the world, including Western Australia and New South Wales in Australia, Hawaii and California.

Prefers a position in full sun, but tolerates semi-shade. Can be grown in any soil type as long as it is well-draining. Drought-tolerant once established. Cut back to near ground level in winter to maintain a tidy habit. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Suitable for coastal gardens.

Striking plant when flowering with brilliant orange flowers. Good for the back of borders or sunny hot banks.

libertia-peregrinans

Libertia peregrinans

mikoikoi; New Zealand iris; creeping iris

Evergreen herbaceous perennial, endemic to New Zealand, named after Dutch botanist Madame Libert. The specific epithet 'peregrinans' is derived from the Latin word for 'to wander', and alludes to the fact that Libertia peregrinans spreads via rhizomes from which new leaves emerge. Stiff, upright foliage, arranged in fans. In full sun, the leaves are predominantly orange in colour, intensifying during the colder months. In partial shade they are olive green with shades of orange or copper, and in full shade the foliage is green. Flowering in spring with panicles of white flowers, 1-3 cm across, followed by green barrel-shaped capsules, gradually turning orange, yellow or black.

Libertia peregrinans used to be widespread in New Zealand along the coast and margins of swamps, but has declined due to changes in (and/or loss of) its natural habitat. Is is however very common in cultivation.

A position in full sun is best for the brightest foliage colour, but will also grow happily in partial shade. Any well-draining soil. Tolerates wind and dry conditions. Suitable for coastal gardens. Very easy to propagate by means of division. Frost-hardy to about -12 deg Celsius (Zones 8-10).

Looks great when planted in groups, making a bold, bright statement, in particular during winter. Libertia peregrinans spreads easily by itself, so if you wish to contain it in a particular area in your garden, make sure you remove the new tufts of leaves (including their roots)  that spring up at various distances from the mother plant.