Plant Guide

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NZ Native

NZ Native
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-eugenioides-variegatum

Pittosporum eugenioides 'Variegatum'

variegated tarata, variegated lemonwood

Bushy evergreen tree or shrub with variegated foliage. The leaves are 10-15 cm long, 2-4 cm wide, mid green, blotched along the wavy margins with creamy white. Foliage emits a lemon-like scent when crushed, hence the common name. Terminal clusters of honey-scented, 1-1.5 cm wide, pale yellow flowers during spring.

Pittosporum eugenioides is native to New Zealand where it occurs throughout the country along stream banks, forest margins and in forest clearings from sea level to about 600 m. The variegated form grows a bit slower than the species itself. It has a tapering habit when young, filling out to an open topped tree later on. 

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Is more tolerant of damp and heavy soils than most other Pittosporum species, but growth will be compromised. Tolerates coastal conditions, moderately strong winds, and medium frosts.

Suitable for hedging or screening purposes. Good contrasting plant in mixed plantings. Also ideal as a specimen tree in particular when pruned to show off the pale grey bark.

Foliage is often used in floral arrangements.

pittosporum-tenuifolium-golfball

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball'

Evergreen cultivar of the New Zealand native Pittosporum tenuifolium (kohuhu), forming a compact shrub with small light green oval leaves 2-3 cm long. Tiny black or purplish black flowers of about .6 cm across.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position and well-draining soil. Moderately fast growing under average garden conditions. Growth rate is reduced in shade. Avoid wet sites. Responds well to trimming. Tolerates moderate frosts.

Lovely fresh green foliage plant. Tends to grow into a rounded shrub by itself, and with a little help it can be maintained as a perfect ball-shaped plant. A great alternative to the much slower-growing Buxus sempervirens.

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.

pittosporum-tenuifolium-variegatum

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Variegatum'

variegated kohuhu, variegated tawhiwhi

Evergreen shrub or small tree with variegated foliage, native to New Zealand. Leaves are flat (as opposed to wavy like the species itself), greyish green with white margins, similar to Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Argenteum Variegatum' but larger and more pointed, to about 5 cm long. Small (to 1 cm wide) dark reddish-black, honey-scented fowers with reflexed petals in spring. Dark grey bark.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position in any, well-draining soil. Tolerates medium frosts and is frost hardy throughout New Zealand. Pittosporum tenuifolium is not as tolerant as Pittosporum crassifolium of coastal conditions and strong winds, but copes reasonably well with dry conditions. Tends to loose its leaves if conditions are too wet.

Ideal as a specimen tree for foliage colour, or as a hedge or screening plant.

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.

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.

pseudopanax-linearifolius

Pseudopanax 'Linearifolius'

Erect growing evergreen New Zealand native shrub, probably a hybrid of Pseudopanax crassifolius and Pseudopanax lessonii. Leathery leaves with three to five (3-5 foliolate) long, narrow leaflets with serrated margins. Leaves may become 3-foliolate or even simple (i.e. a single leaf per node) as the plant matures.

Requires well-draining soil and is not tolerant of damp soil conditions. Grows well in any light situation from shade to full sun. Tolerates light to moderate frosts, coastal conditions, dry shade, and exposed sites.

Ideal tub plant. Great as a backdrop for smaller plants and useful as a contrast plant in particular when combined with large-leafed shrubs such as Griselinia lucida or Meryta sinclairii.

Scleranthus biflorus

Scleranthus biflorus

Forms a ground-hugging, moss-like mound of very tightly packed small leaves with tiny greenish flowers. Occurs naturally in coastal regions of the North Island of New Zealand. Unlike moss, it prefers full sun, and looses its tight habit if light levels are too low. Although reasonably drought tolerant, die back may occur when conditions are too dry.

Scleranthus uniflorus is very similar to S. biflorus and has the same growing requirements, but is slightly lower growing and lighter green. S. uniflorus is found in exposed, Eastern areas of the South Island of New Zealand.

sophora-molloyi-dragons-gold

Sophora molloyi 'Dragons Gold'

Stephens Island kowhai

Evergreen, low-growing, spreading shrub to 1.5-2 m with golden yellow flowers during winter. Attracts nectra-feeding birds.Tubular flowers, 3-5 cm long, appear well before flowers of other commmonly grown kowhais. Pinnately compound leaves with small leaflets.

The common name for New Zealand Sophora species is kowhai. Sophora molloyi occurs naturally in dry, exposed headlands around the southern part of the North Island of New Zealand. 'Dragons Gold' is a selection developed by Terry Hatch of Joy Plants, Pukekohe, New Zealand, and originated from seedlings grown from seed obtained from Sophora molloyi on Stephens Island. The selection was named 'Dragons Gold' in reference to the tuatara population on Stephens Island.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any free-draining soil. Grows somewhat slower in poor soils. Tolerates exposed sites, coastal conditions and medium frosts (hardy throughout New Zealand). Drought tolerant once established. Trim after flowering to maintain a tidy habit. Can be trained as a standard. Suitable for hedging purposes, but fewer flowers will be produced with regular trimming. Keep an eye out for caterpillars. Insecticide applications may be necessary to prevent the Kowhai moth caterpillar from defoliating the plant.