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 #

Perennial

crocosmia-crocosmiiflora

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora

Montbretia

Perennial in the Iris family with light green, long and narrow leaves (90 x 2 cm) that spreads with underground rhizomes. Sprays of bright orange flowers held on long, thin, zig-zag stems, arising from the foliage clumps during late summer. Can become invasive in mild, wet climates as it tolerates many adverse conditions including grazing. The seeds are not a problem, since not many are produced, but the plants can multiply and spread rapidly via their corms and rhizomes. In New Zealand and some other parts of the world Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora is regarded as an environmental weed, competing with ground covering shrubs and native seedlings.

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora is a hybrid bred in France in 1880 by crossing two African species Crocosmia aurea and Crocosmia pottsii.

Prefers a sunny, sheltered spot in well-draining soil, but will adapt to most soils and tolerates partial shade, heat, and moist soils. Quite drought tolerant, but benefits from an occasional watering during exceptionally dry weather. Frost hardy (zones 5-9). In cold climates, the corms can be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place until spring. 

Easy to grow and consistently produces lots of flowers. Divide the clump after a few years to maintain vigour. Suitable for containers and cut flowers. Beautiful bright colours.

Delphinum (hybrid)

Delphinum (hybrid)

Clump-forming perennial with mid-green, divided foliage. Upright flower spikes in blue, purple, white and pink shades. Dormant in winter. New leaves appear in spring. Cut back the first flower stems after flowering (late spring-early summer) for a second flush of flowers during late summer-autumn. Will require staking in windy areas.

echinops-ritro

Echinops ritro

small globe thistle, blue globe thistle, steel globe thistle, globe flower, blue hedgehog

Eurasian, herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family. Grey-green, deeply cut, evergreen foliage. Spherical, steel-blue flower heads, 5 cm across, on long, silvery stems in late summer and autumn. Attracts bees and butterflies. Birds like the seeds.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and poor, well-draining soil. Tolerates partial shade and dry conditions. Suitable for coastal gardens. Stems are quite strong, but staking may be required in windy locations. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Leave the flowering stems on the plant if you wish to encourage self-seeding. Cutting spent flowering stems back early in the season helps the plant to produce a second flush of flowers. Divide the plant after 3-4 years.  Echinops ritro is generally trouble-free and easy to grow.

Attractive contrasting plant with globe-shaped flowers in stunning metallic blue, set off beautifully against the silvery stems and greyish foliage. Combines well with tall grasses that flower at about the same time, such as Miscanthus sinensis cultivars. Excellent for dried and fresh cut flower arrangements.

epimedium-rubrum

Epimedium x rubrum

Bishop's hat, red barrenwort

Perennial ground cover with heart-shaped leaves and sprays of small, rosy-red flowers in spring. The green leaves have a reddish tinge when young, turn more red in autumn and may persist as brown-red foliage during winter. Grows relatively slowly, spreading with underground rhizomes.

Prefers a moist, but well drained position in partial or full shade. Keep moist when young. Once established, Epimedium x rubrum tolerates dry conditions. Old leaves are best removed in spring or earlier so that the young foliage and flowers are better visible. Apply mulch or compost after removal of the foliage. Can be propagated by division.

Excellent ground cover for shady, dry areas such as beneath trees. Make sure to water the plant regularly until it is well established. Mine took a while to start growing, and at some point I thought it had died, until the young leaves emerged again in spring.

erigeron-karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus

Mexican daisy, Santa Barbara daisy, Latin American fleabane, seaside daisy

Fine-textured, mound-forming, evergreen perennial, native to Mexico, Venezuela, and Central America. Flowers profusely from spring to autumn, and all year round in mild climates. Thin, wiry stems with small narrow leaves, 1-4 cm long, three-lobed or without lobes. Yellow-centered, daisy-like flowers, 2 cm across, with white petals, turning pink with age. Naturalised in many parts of the world. Regarded as an unwanted, invasive weed in several countries, including New Zealand, Portugal, and New Caledonia.

Synonym: Erigeron mucronatus

Happiest in full sun or partial shade, and any well-drained soil. Copes with full shade, but lacks vigor and produces fewer flowers. Tolerates moderate frosts, coastal conditions, and drought once established. Self-seeds. If you wish to propagate this plant from an existing one, all you need to do is place a pot with potting mix next to the existing plant, and Erigeron karvinskianus will do the rest.

Versatile ground cover plant that grows almost anywhere, and flowers during most of the year. Particularly suited to cottage-style gardens, but also fits in beautifully with other themes, adding a delicate, somewhat playful touch to formal settings.

euphorbia-epithymoides

Euphorbia epithymoides

cushion spurge

Clump-forming perennial plant, flowering with bright acid-yellow 'flower' heads, 5-8 cm wide, in late spring. Botanically speaking, the parts resembling flower petals are modified leaves, and the actual flowers are very tiny. Simple, elliptical to linear leaves, 4-6 cm long. Foliage tends to colour up during autumn in shades of red, purple and orange. The common name refers to the plant's cushion-like growth habit. All parts are toxic. Sap may irritate skin and eyes.

Synonym: Euphorbia polychroma.

Grows well in full sun, but in hot areas a partially shaded position with morning sun only is best. Too much shade will result in a leggy, open shape. Any well-draining soil. Not tolerant of waterlogged soil and reasonably tolerant of dry soils. Self-seeds. Can become weedy, but is easy to control by cutting the stems back to about one-third after flowering. This will also keep the plant compact. Wear gloves when pruning to prevent skin contact with the milky sap that seeps from the cut stems. Frost hardy. Evergreen in areas with mild winters, but cut back to near ground level to maintain a well-shaped plant.

You can create gorgeous colour combinations by planting Euphorbia epithymoides together with blue or purple varieties of Ajuga reptans, Acquilegia, GeraniumIris, Lobelia, or with purple leafed Heuchera or Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. The colour is particularly attractive in the shade, and if you wish to make the most of the beautiful bright colour on a well-shaped, compact plant, then select a partially shaded position. Can be used as a ground cover, but does not spread, so make sure you plant enough plants to produce a good cover.

geranium-rozanne

Geranium Rozanne

Perennial with deeply cut leaves and masses of blue-violet flowers from spring until well into autumn. Individual flowers are about 5-7 cm across. Winter-dormant. Forms a wide-spreading, dense mound. 

Grows well in full sun or partial shade. Any reasonable soil, including sandy and clay soils. Can handle some drought, and also copes well with occasionally very wet soils. A trim every now and then may be required to keep the plant compact. Geranium 'Rozanne' grows vigorously, but will not become invasive. Generally pest and disease-free. Does not self-seed. Frost-hardy.

Fantastic groundcover with an incredibly long flowering season. Very easy to grow. Looks fabulous with yellows and oranges, or with purple flowers like those of Liriope muscari. 

helleborus-argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius

Corsican hellebore, holly-leaved hellebore, Corsican rose

Evergreen, clump-forming perennial native to Corsica and Sardinia. Large, leathery leaves with three toothed leaflets 10-20 cm long and 4-5 cm across. Unlike Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus argutifolius has no basal foliage; the leaves are carried on stout, upright stems. Clusters of bowl-shaped pale green flowers to 5 cm wide, during late winter and early spring. Closely related to Helleborus lividus with which it hybridises freely. Size varies with growing conditions and may also reflect genetic variation.

Synonyms: Helleborus corsicus, Helleborus lividus subsp. corsicus 

Less frost-hardy than Helleborus orientalis, but tolerates medium frosts. Adaptable to most well-draining soils except heavy clay. Shade tolerant, but flowers best in a sunny position. Shady conditions promote the growth of long, weak stems. Self-seeds easily. Thinning of the seedlings is advisable so that they don't smother the original plant.

helleborus-anna's-red

Helleborus orientalis

Lenten rose, Winter rose, Lenten hellebore, Oriental hellebore

Clump-forming, evergreen, relatively slow growing perennial with palmately compound leaves and nodding flowers during winter. Native to Greece, Turkey and around the Black Sea. Leathery dark green leaves with 7 to 9 coarsely toothed leaflets, 15-25 cm long. Flowers (5-8 cm across) resemble single rose flowers, and are held above the foliage in loose clusters. Colours range from pure white to pink or dark red, often spotted. All parts are poisonous. Sap may cause skin irritation. In cold climates, Helleborus orientalis is semi-evergreen.

Most hellebores sold as Helleborus orientalis belong to a large group of hybrids, now collectively known as Helleborus x hybridus. Many of the latter have their own name. For example, the stunning deep red flowers in the close-up photograph belong to the hybrid Helleborus 'Anna's Red'.

Prefers partial or full shade and moist, well-drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Tolerates drier conditions once established. Dislikes being disturbed, so may take a while to recover after transplanting. Naturalises in suitable climates. Plants are propagated from seed or by dividing large plants in late summer. Old, unsightly leaves can be removed in autumn before the flowers and new leaves appear.

Great ground covering plant for shady gardens. Since the flowers are quite subtle and delicate both in colour and size, they are best used en masse in smaller areas. The leaves contrast beautifully with hostas or ferns. Suitable as cut flowers, but flowers last longer when you allow them to float in a shallow bowl of water.

liatris-spicata

Liatris spicata

(dense or marsh) blazing star, (Kansas, prairie, or spike) gay feather, button snake root, button snakewort

Clump-forming herbaceous perennial, native to moist habitats in eastern USA and parts of Canada. Long flower spikes with rosy purple, fluffy flower heads. From early summer, flowers open gradually from the top of the spike downwards. Grass-like leaves, mid green, 10-30 cm long, becoming progressively shorter along the flowering stems. Several cultivars are available, including white flowering, and dwarf forms. Attracts butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds.

Liatris spicata has numerous synonyms, including Kuhnia spicata, Lacinaria spicata, Suprago spicata, and Serratula spicata.

Prefers a sunny position in any moist, but well-drained soil. Also grows well in partial shade, and, except in sandy soils, is able to cope with some drought. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Can be propagated by dividing the tuberous roots in early spring. Frost hardy.

Looks best when planted in groups in the middle of borders, in particular when combined with plants that have different flower shapes, such as daisies, Echinacea, and dahlias. Suitable for coastal gardens. Long-lasting cut flower, and can be dried too.

ligularia-japonicum-aureo-maculata

Ligularia japonicum 'Aureo-maculata'

leopard plant, spotted leopard plant

Evergreen mound-forming perennial to 60 cm tall and wide. Large, 15-25 cm wide, glossy dark green, rounded, undulating leaves with yellow spots. Yellow daisy-like flowers in clusters during autumn, rising above the foliage.

Synonyms: Farfugium japonicum 'Aureo-maculata', Ligularia tussilaginea 'Aureomaculata'.

Best in a partially shaded position where it receives some morning sunlight, but also grows well in deep shade.

 

ligularia-japonicum-giganteum-leaves

Ligularia japonicum 'Giganteum'

tractor seat plant

Clump forming plant with large, leathery, glossy leaves on long stalks. Often referred to as tractor seat plant in New Zealand because the leaves have the same shape and nearly the same size as the metal seats of vintage tractors. Long flowering stems with panicles of yellow daisy-like flowers during late summer or autumn. All parts are poisonous. Hardy to -18oC. Tolerates drier conditions than many other Ligularia species, but even with adequate moisture leaves may wilt if the position is too sunny.

Synonyms: Ligularia reniformis, Ligularia tussilaginea, Farfugium japonicum var. giganteum, Farfugium reniforme.

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.

lobelia-angulata

Lobelia angulata

panakenake, alpine pratia, trailing pratia

Fast growing, New Zealand native ground cover. Small (1 cm wide) flowers from spring to autumn, followed by purplish red berries. Tiny, nearly circular, evergreen leaves with toothed margins.

Lobelia angulata used to be known as Pratia angulata. It is an endemic New Zealand species, occurring naturally in quite damp areas of the North island and the South Island, as well as Stewart Island.

Grows well in a sunny or partially shaded position. Tolerates wind and dry to moderately wet conditions. Frost-hardy (zones 7-9).

In full sun, Lobelia angulata forms a tight mat, whereas in the shade the plant can become quite stretched. If it is planted in a good spot, it grows very fast. In my design-work, I usually recommend this ground cover in more or less confined spaces where it cannot easily invade lawns or other areas.

lobelia-erinus-lucia-dark-blue

Lobelia erinus

edging lobelia, garden lobelia, trailing lobelia, bedding lobelia, annual lobelia

Dainty herbaceous perennial, native to South Africa, flowering from spring to autumn with small blue to violet, pale-centered flowers in loose panicles, fine stems and tiny leaves.  Flowers are 1-2 cm across, and have five-lobed corollas with three larger and two smaller lobes. Lower leaves are oval in shape, 1-3 cm long, often flushed with a reddish-purple tinge, and have toothed margins. Leaves on flowering stems are linear, and usually have an entire margin. Many cultivars are available, with a trailing or upright habit, and flower colours ranging from shades of purple and blue, to pink, cerise, and white. Pictured here is Lobelia erinus 'Lucia Dark Blue', a trailing variety with gorgeous sky-blue flowers.

Prefers a sunny position (partially shaded in areas with hot summers) in well-draining soil. Looks best when the weather is cool, but usually stops flowering during summer when temperatures become too high. If that happens to your plants, you can cut them back to encourage another flush of flowers later in the season. Lobelia erinus 'Lucia Dark Blue' is more heat tolerant than many other varieties. For best performance, apply compost and fertiliser once a year. Fertilise container plants once a month. Suitable for coastal areas. Tolerates light frosts, and in colder climates Lobelia erinus is generally grown as an annual.

Trailing varieties are particularly attractive when allowed to spill over the edges of containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Upright varieties make great edging plants and colourful additions to rock gardens.