Plant Guide

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z #

Dry

liriope-muscari

Liriope muscari

lilyturf, big blue lilyturf, border grass, monkey grass

Evergreen, clump-forming, herbaceous perennial, native to East Asia, where it occurs as an under-story plant in forests. Glossy, dark green, grass-like, arching leaves. Flowering in summer and autumn with small purple flowers, tightly packed in erect spikes. They resemble the flowers of the grape hyacinth, Muscari, hence the specific epithet. Fibrous roots, often with small tubers. Several cultivars are available, including a white flowering form and a variegated cultivar.

Liriope muscari prefers a sheltered position in partial or full shade, and any well-draining soil. Tolerates sun, drought, and coastal conditions. If leaves turn brown in winter, they can be cut back (or mowed) before the new foliage appears. To propagate, divide the plant and replant straight away. Generally disease-free. Hardy to about -15 deg C.

Excellent choice for under-planting en masse. Neat edging and ground cover plant. Suitable for containers. Combine e.g. with lime-green foliage plants, ferns, spring-flowering bulbs, or hostas.

melia-azedarach

Melia azedarach

Persian lilac, Indian lilac, Cape lilac, bead tree, chinaberry tree, syringa berrytree, white cedar, Ceylon cedar, Texas umbrella, umbrella tree

Deciduous tree with a rounded canopy and glossy foliage, native to northern and eastern parts of Australia, and South East Asia. Belongs to the Mahogany family (Meliaceae). Leaves are 2-3 times odd-pinnately compound, to 50 cm long, and consist of 3-8 cm long leaflets with entire or lobed and/or toothed margins. Foliage is mid green, turning yellow in autumn. Small, pale purple to mauve and white, fragrant flowers in loose panicles during spring after the new leaves have emerged. Flowers are followed in autumn by 1.5 cm wide bead-like fruit, smooth and green initially, wrinkled and yellow when mature, remaining on the tree for a long time during winter. Has become invasive in some parts of the world. Poisonous fruits and foliage.

Synonyms (among many others): Melia australis, Melia japonica, Melia sempervirens.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Copes well with partial shade. Adaptable to a wide range of conditions, but sensitive to waterlogged soils. Can handle considerable drought. Prune for shape to encourage a good branching structure. Suitable for coastal areas. Melia azedarach has a shallow root system and is best planted at some distance from hard surfaces. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-12).

Attractive shade or specimen tree with graceful foliage, perfumed spring flowers, and a lovely display of yellow fruit in winter. When in flower, the canopy has a beautiful soft, smokey mauve appearance. Also suitable for erosion control and timber production.

metrosideros-carminea

Metrosideros carminea

akakura, carmine rata, crimson rata

Evergreen climber, endemic to New Zealand, but only occasionally found in its natural habitat of coastal and lowland forests in the northern half of the North Island. Climbs by adhering to tree trunks and other rough surfaces with aerial, adventitious roots. When the juvenile plant eventually reaches the light, it gradually transforms into the shrubby, non-climbing, flowering, adult form. Cuttings from an adult plant will result in a small spreading shrub rather than a climber. Shaded parts of an adult shrub may produce juvenile climbing or creeping stems. Glossy, dark green, rounded leaves, 1-2 cm long on juvenile plants and 2-4 cm long on adult plants. Bright crimson flowers in dense clusters from mid winter to mid spring.

Synonym: Metrosideros diffusa

Prefers a position in well-draining soil. If you intend to use Metrosideros carminea as a climber, then find a spot in the shade, preferably where it can grow towards the light. If you want to grow it as a shrub, then a sunny position is best. Suitable for coastal gardens. Once established, the crimson rata tolerates drought, and light to moderate frosts (USDA zones 8-11). The adult form copes well with exposed, windy conditions. Generally trouble free.

Very tough, but slow growing plant. Spectacular when in flower. Worth the wait!

metrosideros-excelsa

Metrosideros excelsa

pohutukawa, New Zealand pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas tree

Evergreen, usually multi-stemmed tree, often developing a spreading canopy, endemic to New Zealand. Occurs mainly in coastal regions of the northern part of the North Island. Leaves of mature trees are covered with a fine tomentum, lightly on the upper surface and densely on the lower surface, giving the foliage a grey-green appearance. Leaves are elliptic to oblong, to 10 cm long and 5 cm wide, arranged in pairs. Bright red flowers begin to appear in November, and continue to open during December and January (New Zealand summer). Individual trees may vary in flowering time, and in flower colour shade and intensity. Flowers attract nectar-feeding birds. Grey, deeply furrowed bark. Metrosideros excelsa trees often develop clusters of aerial roots from the trunk and the lower branches, some of which may reach the ground.

Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Very wind-tolerant. Good for coastal areas with poor soils. Tolerates dry conditions. Copes well with moderate frosts once established, but is frost tender when young. No major pests and diseases. Root system can become invasive, so it is best not to plant Metrosideros excelsa close to buildings or near drainage systems. Use drought-tolerant plants for under-planting.

Magnificent tree, smothered with flowers around Christmas time in the Southern Hemisphere. Use as a specimen tree in large gardens. If you have insufficient space, select one of the smaller growing selections, such as 'Scarlet Pimpernel' or 'Vibrance'.

muehlenbeckia-astonii

Muehlenbeckia astonii

Fine, dark, densely interlaced branches. The minute round to heart-shaped green leaves fall in winter in colder climates, giving the shrub a brown to purple colour. Small white flowers, followed by tiny, translucent white fruits with black seeds inside. Occurs naturally in coastal areas in the south of the North Island of New Zealand and the north-east of the South Island.

Forms a great contrast with larger-leafed shrubs such as Griselinia littoralis or with flaxes and grasses or grass-like plants such as Chionochloa flavicans.

Muehlenbeckia astonii prefers dry conditions, but will cope with wet soils as long as the plant has a cool root run. Can be pruned to shape. Hardy to -12oC

 

nerium-oleander

Nerium oleander

Oleander

Evergreen shrub or small (usually multi-stemmed) tree, flowering in summer with 2.5-5 cm wide, white, pink, or reddish pink flowers in clusters at the end of the branches. Dark green, lanceolate to linear leaves, 5-20 cm long, 1 to 3 cm wide, arranged in twos or threes. Flowers may be, but are not always, scented. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Indigestion can be fatal. Contact with the flowers or foliage may cause severe allergic reactions, so wear long sleeves and gloves when handling Nerium oleander. Its native region stretches from the Mediterranean area to India and Southern China.

The common name alludes to its resemblance to the olive, Olea. Nerium oleander is the official flower of Hiroshima, being the first to flower after the atomic bombing of the city.

Easy to grow in just about any soil. Requires very little maintenance. Prefers a sunny position, but copes with partial shade. Established plants generally don't require fertilisation. Prune for shape in autumn. Can be pruned quite hard. Avoid touching the milky latex that exudes from the cut stems. Tolerates drought, coastal conditions, and moderate frosts (zones 8-11). Suitable for exposed sites, although strong winds may damage flower buds and open flowers. Yellowing of the leaves is usually a sign that the soil is too wet.

A magnificent sight when the plant is completely covered with flowers in summer. There are many cultivars available, with single or double flowers, and in a range of colours. In cold climates, Nerium oleander can be grown in a container and brought indoors for the winter.

olearia-paniculata

Olearia paniculata

akiraho

Evergreen shrub to 2-4 m tall or, when given sufficient space, a small tree to 6 m tall and 3 m wide, native to New Zealand. Light green, oval to oblong, leathery leaves, 3-10 cm long, 2-4 cm wide. Leaf margins are usually very wavy, but may be flat. Leaf undersides are covered with fine grey-white tomentum. Inconspicuous, creamy white, sweetly scented flower heads are produced in autumn. Occurs naturally in coastal areas, montane scrublands and forest margins of the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. Tolerates moderate frosts, and dry, windy, and coastal conditions. Frost hardy throughout New Zealand. Responds well to trimming.

Excellent hedge or screen for coastal sites. Attractive foliage plant with an interesting texture and bright green colour.

pachystegia-insignis

Pachystegia insignis

Marlborough rock daisy, Kaikoura rock daisy, rock tree daisy

Low-growing flowering plant in the daisy family, endemic to New Zealand. Occurs naturally in exposed, rocky areas along the coast and on inland mountains in Marlborough and Northern Canterbury. Leathery, dark green leaves, 7-17 cm long, covered with tiny white hairs. Daisy-like white flowers to 7.5 cm across, with yellow centers emerge in spring from grey-white buds held above the foliage like felted drumsticks. The flowers are followed by fluffy, pale brown seed heads.

Synonyms: Olearia insignis, Olearia marginata. Of the three species in the genus Pachystegia, P. insignis is the most common, both in cultivation and in nature. Pachystegia rufa is similar to P. insignis, but has brownish felt on the flower buds, leaf-undersides, and the flower stems. Pachystegia minor is also very similar to the Marlborough rock daisy, but has smaller leaves without the white leaf margins. 

Prefers a sunny position in very well-draining soil. Can handle part shade, but will have a more open habit. Drought-tolerant. No maintenance required, other than pruning back if and when required. Usually trouble-free as long as the soil is sufficiently dry. Tolerates moderate frosts and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Excellent choice for exposed, coastal sites. Looks attractive all year round with its grey-green foliage, silvery-grey flower buds and flower stems, the daisy-like flowers and fluffy seed-heads. Combine for example with grasses, succulents or ground covers such as Acaena inermis 'Purpurea' (as in the photographs).

phlomis-russeliana

Phlomis russeliana

Turkish sage, (sticky) Jerusalem sage

Evergreen perennial, native to Turkey and Syria, forming large clumps of large, heart-shaped, grey-green, rough-textured, aromatic leaves. Pale yellow flowers arranged in whorls on hairy, erect stems, appear in late spring or early summer. The flowers turn into brown seed-heads that persist on the plant well into winter, providing food for seed eating birds. The nectar in the flowers attracts bees and butterflies.

Synonym: Phlomis samia. Sometimes referred to as Phlomis viscosa.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining, sandy soil. Copes well with partial shade too. Usually trouble-free and easy to grow. Once established Phlomis russeliana tolerates dry conditions. Cut back to near ground-level in late autumn, winter, or any time you no longer want the seedheads.  Frost hardy (USDA zones 4-9). Propagate from seed or division. Seed-propagated plants flower from their second year on.

A gorgeous plant with year-round interest; beautiful, bold ground-covering foliage with strong, stout flowering stems and attractive seed-heads. Once in flower, Phlomis russeliana can be quite dominant, so find a spot in your garden where it can be the primadonna, or combine with plants that have equally strong personalities to make a real show.

phylica-pubescens

Phylica pubescens

featherhead, flannel flower

Evergreen shrub from South Africa with narrow grey-green leaves densely covered with soft hairs. Tiny flowers with a very mild cinnamon scent, surrounded by showy, hairy, golden creamy bracts appear at the ends of the branches in autumn through to late winter. Often sold as the smaller growing Phylica plumosa (.3-.6 m tall).

Happiest in full sun and well-draining soil. Copes well with dry conditions and is suitable for coastal gardens. Tolerates light to medium frosts (to about -6 degrees Celsius).

This would be the perfect plant for a 'tactile' garden; it feels so nice and soft. Lasts well on water as a cut flower or cut foliage, and can also dried. Once in flower, Phylica pubescens looks amazing since the whole plant is usually covered with its unusual flowers.

pittosporum-crassifolium

Pittosporum crassifolium

karo

New Zealand native evergreen shrub or small tree. Thick, leathery, obovate leaves with rolled down margins, about 6 cm long and 2 cm wide. The leaf undersides and petioles are covered with a dense whitish tomentum. Deep red, fragrant, unisexual flowers in spring, the female ones turning into three- or four-valved seed capsules which eventually split open to reveal shiny black seeds. Provides food for native and exotic birds. Originally occurred naturally near the coast, along streams and in forest margins in the North Island of New Zealand from the North Cape to Poverty Bay, and in the Kermadic Islands. Karo is now naturalised throughout most of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shady position in free-draining soil. Tolerates wind, coastal conditions, relatively dry sites, and moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Usually quite fast growing and problem-free. Prune yearly. Benefits from mulch and compost.

Tough plant with a grey-green overall appearance. Suitable for hedging purposes. The flowers release a delightful scent at night. Excellent choice for seaside gardens as a filler or background plant.

pittosporum-tenuifolium-silver-sheen

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'

Cultivar of the New Zealand native Pittosporum tenuifolium (kohuhu) with dainty foliage and black branches. Fast growing evergreen shrub or small tree. Tiny leaves with a silvery-grey sheen, round initially and gradually becoming oval in shape.

Prefers a position in full sun. Growth is a bit more open in partial shade. Grows well in any well-drained soil other than heavy clay. Reasonably drought tolerant. Avoid wet sites. Frost-hardy throughout New Zealand, and in general tolerates moderate frosts. Fertilise with general purpose fertiliser in spring and autumn. Responds well to trimming.

Attractive plant with delicate foliage and lovely colour contrasts of silver leaves and black branches. Great choice for hedging purposes. If you wish to grow Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen' as a specimen, plant it where you can see the leaves shimmer in the sun. Cut branchlets are suitable for floral art.

podocarpus-totara-aurea

Podocarpus totara 'Aurea'

golden totara

Golden-leafed cultivar of Podocarpus totara, a New Zealand native conifer. Pyramidal to columnar growth habit. The needle-like leaves are linear, sessile, 1-3 cm long, 2-4 mm wide. Leaf colour varies somewhat during the year from light green in spring, changing to yellow in summer, and deepening to golden yellow in winter.

Plant in full sun for best foliage colour. Prefers well-draining soil. Tolerates dry conditions once established. Responds well to trimming and is suitable for hedging purposes. Tends to have a bushy habit with foliage from ground level, but can be trained to grow as a specimen tree from an early age by selecting one shoot to become the central leader and gradually removing the side shoots. Make sure to stake the tree when planting in an exposed position. Suitable for coastal gardens.Tolerates moderate frosts, and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Smaller and slower growing than the species itself, Podocarpus totara 'Aurea' can be accomodated in garden settings for many years. Forms a nice dense hedge.

protea-neriifolia-limelight

Protea neriifolia 'Limelight'

Evergreen shrub with lanceolate leaves, flowering mainly during autumn and winter with creamy-green flower-heads with purple-red tufts on the bracts. Similar to, but a smaller shrub with smaller flowers than 'Green Ice'

'Limelight' (= 'Green Jade') is a cultivar developed in 1950 in New Zealand, originating from the oleander-leaved or narrow-leaved Protea neriifolia, which is endemic to South Africa.

Prefers a sunny position in acidic, and relatively poor soil. Any soil type is suitable but it must be well-draining. A yearly application of blood and bone in spring is recommended, but otherwise keep the nutrient levels low and don't apply any further fertilisers. In general, proteas dislike humidity, so a relatively windy site is ideal, since the wind keeps the humidity down. Staking will be required in very windy locations. No additional watering is necessary, except maybe in extremely dry summers. Mulch to keep the weeds down or grow as a lawn specimen, to limit the need to remove weeds around the plant and thus disturb its sensitive, shallow root system. They can be pruned quite heavily, but not beyond the foliage. Remove dead and damaged wood, as well as the by-pass shoots that the develop just below the flower-head. Suitable for coastal conditions.

Striking plant when in flower. Perfect for coastal gardens. The flowers (and foliage) last for ages on water. Just be careful not to "kill them by kindness"!

pseudopanax-cyril-watson

Pseudopanax 'Cyril Watson'

Pseudopanax lessonii hybrid in the Araliaceae family, named after Cyril Watson, a sales manager at Duncan and Davies nursery in New Plymouth, New Zealand, who was instrumental in the development and release of this plant. Bushy, slow-growing, evergreen shrub with lush, green foliage. Leaves are leathery and have 3 to 5 rounded, partially fused lobes with toothed margins. Inconspicuous, greenish flowers in summer.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Seems to cope with full shade quite well also. Tolerates moderate frosts once established, but may require frost protection when young. Trim yearly, or prune relatively hard every couple of years to keep compact and maintain a good shape.

Attractive fresh green foliage plant, perfect as a filler or backdrop for other plants. Suitable for containers.