Plant Guide

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NZ Native

NZ Native
hebe-pretty-in-pink

Hebe 'Pretty in Pink"

Small, bun-shaped, evergreen shrub in the Hollywood series of hebes. Its main asset is green foliage, flushed with burgundy purple, the colour intensifying during the colder months. Spikes to about 5 cm long, with tiny pink flowers, fading to white with age.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. Tolerates dry conditions once established. Lightly prune to maintain compactness, but avoid pruning beyond the foliage. Tolerates at least moderate frosts, and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Looks beautiful in combination with Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy', in particular when you add some lime green foliage to the mix. Happy in containers. Suitable for borders in front of taller growing plants. 

knightia-excelsa

Knightia excelsa

rewarewa, New Zealand honeysuckle

Tall evergreen New Zealand native tree with a narrow, columnar habit, flowering in spring. Occurs naturally throughout the North Island and in the northern parts of the South Island of New Zealand. Leaves are leathery, dark olive-green, pale beneath, with toothed margins, 3-4 cm wide, up to 30 cm long on juvenile plants and about 15 cm long on adult trees. Brown tomentum covers the branchlets, petioles and mid-veins on the undersides of the leaves. Bee-pollinated, reddish brown flowers, clustered tightly in racemes to 10 cm long. Flowers are rich in nectar and attract birds such as the New Zealand native tui. The protruding styles persist on the brown woody fruit capsules that follow the flowers and after about a year split in two halves to release winged seed.

Knightia excelsa prefers a sunny or partially shady position in any well-drained soil. Suitable for coastal gardens as long as it is sheltered from very strong winds to protect the leaves from leaf burn.Tolerant of dry conditions once established, but prone to root rot in wet soils. Moderately frost-hardy. Needs some frost protection when young. Thrips may become a problem in particular for plants that are already stressed, causing the leaves to turn pale, but this can be overcome by applying a systemic insecticide. No or little pruning required. 

Even though Knightia excelsa eventually becomes very tall, its narrow growth habit makes it an attractive specimen tree that is suitable even for smaller gardens. Looks great when planted in groups where space allows. Excellent choice if you wish to attract birds and bees in your garden.

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.

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.

lophomyrtus-ralphii-kathryn

Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Kathryn'

'Kathryn' is one of several cultivars of Lophomyrtus x ralphii, a hybrid of the New Zealand native species Lophomyrtus bullata (ramarama) and Lophomyrtus obcordata (rohutu). Leaves are oval, 1-2 cm long, puckered, deep purplish red with green. Creamy white flowers during summer, 1 cm across, followed by reddish purple berries.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-drained soil. Tolerates moderate frosts. Responds well to clipping.

Attractive contrasting plant. Widely used for hedging purposes. Foliage suitable for floral art.

lophomyrtus-ralphii-red-dragon

Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Red Dragon'

Evergreen shrub with small pointed, textured leaves, pinkish red when young, maturing to burgundy red, intensifying to blackish red in winter. White flowers in summer, to 1 cm across, followed by dark red berries. 'Red dragon' is one of several cultivars of Lophomyrtus x ralphii, a hybrid of the New Zealand native species Lophomyrtus bullata (ramarama) and Lophomyrtus obcordata (rohutu).

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-drained, fertile soil. Avoid very dry or exposed sites. Tolerates moderate frosts, but may need some frost protection when young. Responds well to clipping.

Brilliant, fine-textured foliage plant. Excellent for hedging purposes. Cut stems are suitable for floral art.

Macropiper-excelsum

Macropiper excelsum

kawakawa, pepper tree

Bushy shrub or small tree with rounded to heart-shaped, 5-10 cm wide, aromatic leaves with prominent veins. Dark green foliage in shade, lighter green in more open positions. Leaves often covered with holes caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar. Zigzagging branches, swollen at the nodes. Minute, inconspicuous female and male flowers on separate, 4-8 cm long spikes, usually on separate plants. Female flowers are followed by tiny tightly packed berries, green at first, turning orange later, providing food for birds. Occurs naturally in forests and other shady areas throughout the North Island and northern parts of the South Island of New Zealand. Leaves, bark, fruit and roots have medicinal properties.


Tolerates light frost. Prefers moist, well draining soil, but in warm humid areas, a more exposed position and relatively dry soil is best to prevent fungal diseases. Can be pruned to shape.

Excellent filler for shady areas. Also suitable as a container plant.

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

 

myosotidium-hortensia

Myosotidium hortensia

Chatham Island forget-me-not

Evergreen perennial with large heart- or kidney-shaped leaves, deeply veined, 15 to 30 cm wide. Large heads, 10 to 15 cm wide, of sky blue flowers with white centers in spring. Native to the Chatham Islands.

Ideal for shady areas. Tolerates full sun as long as the root system is kept cool. Requires fertile, well-draining soil. Susceptible to fungal diseases, in particular in moist sites. Needs protection from slugs and snails. Hardy to -12oC.

Combine wiith fine-leafed plants, such as ferns and grasses.

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).

phormium-chocomint

Phormium 'Chocomint'

Flax of hybrid origin, developed in New Zealand and protected by NZ Plant Variety Rights. The arching leaves are evergreen, chocolate brown, edged with bright olive green, and usually with a lighter midrib. They are 3-5 cm wide and up to 1 m long. Flowers attract nectar-feeding birds.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in relatively dry, free-draining soil. In humid areas, select an exposed site to reduce the incidence of foliar diseases. Tolerates wind, coastal conditions, and medium frosts. Tidy up once a year by removing old leaves at the base. 

Primarily grown as a foliage plant for its colour and shape. From a distance the overall appearance is dark greenish-brown. Looks great when planted in groups or even as a single plant in smaller areas where the gorgeous brown with green colour combination of the foliage can be appreciated. Suitable for containers. Great contrast plant when surrounded by finer-leaved species.

phormium-surfer

Phormium 'Surfer'

flax 'Surfer'

A tough little flax with narrow, olive green leaves and reddish-brown leaf margins. Usually, some of the leaves have an obviously twisted section. Its little brother Phormium 'Surfer Bronze' has chocolate-bronze foliage. Phormium 'Surfer' may produce long spikes with orange-bronze flowers in late spring.

Phormium 'Surfer' is very easy to grow in a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. It can handle drought once established, and also copes well in windy locations. Frost hardy to about minus 12 deg Celsius (zones 8-11). Suitable for coastal gardens.

Nearly daily I walk past a garden where groups of Phormium 'Surfer' have been planted in the shade of large trees. They look awesome even though they don't appear to grow any taller. The ones in the photographs are planted in full sun, and after one year they are fuller and bigger than the plants in deep shade.                                                                                                  

Phormium 'Surfer' looks great in groups, especially when combined with grasses and groundcovers such as Coprosma acerosa. I also love the beautiful colour combination of the bronze-purple foliage of Loropetalum 'Burgundy' and the bronze-edged leaves of Phormium 'Surfer'.