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 #

Shady

ajuga-reptans-jungle-beauty

Ajuga reptans 'Jungle Beauty'

Fast growing ground cover, forming a dense, evergreen carpet, and flowering freely during early spring. Larger leafed and faster spreading cultivar of Ajuga reptans, which is native to Europe, and commonly known as bugle, bugleweed, bugleherb and carpetweed. Glossy, crinkly, rounded, dark green leaves, tinged with bronze-purple. Deep blue flowers arranged in spikes up to 30 cm long. Growth habit is similar to strawberry plants in that it spreads with runners that form new rooted plants at various distances from the mother plant. Vigorous spreader, but easily controlled in garden settings.

Prefers a position in partial shade in any well-drained soil, but can also be planted in full shade or sun. Frost hardy. No maintenance required other than keeping the plant from spreading to areas where you don't want it. Easily propagated by removing rooted portions of the runners from the mother plant and replanting these elsewhere.

Excellent choice for covering the ground in shady areas or under trees. The blue flowers look particularly attractive when combined with light green foliage plants. Good edging plant, and lovely addition to rock gardens. Suitable for containers as long as they are watered regularly.

akebia-quinata

Akebia quinata

chocolate vine, five-leaf akebia

Vigorous evergreen or semi-evergreen climber native to Japan, Korea and China. Compound, bright green leaves with five elliptic to obovate leaflets to 5 cm long, notched at the tips. Fragrant, cup-shaped, purplish-red flowers in pendulous racemes during spring. Flowers may be followed by sausage-shaped fruits to 10 cm long.

Prefers a partially shaded position in any reasonable soil. Tolerates full shade and full sun. Avoid very dry and waterlogged soils. Resents root disturbance, so best planted when young, and not to be transplanted when mature. Requires support to climb. In suitable growing conditions Akebia is a vigorous grower and needs regular trimming. Copes with hard pruning. Akebia quinata is frost hardy, but in cold climates it behaves as a semi-evergreen or even deciduous climber with the extent of leaf loss depending on the degree of winter cold.

In New Zealand Akebia quinata is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord and is prohibited from commercial propagation, sale and distribution across the country.

Ideal as a fast cover for pergolas, fences and gazebos. If you wish to add a slimline vertical element to a garden bed, then let Akebia grow up against a tall post and trim it a few times per year. Help the shoots find support by attaching netting to the outside of the post. Could also be used as an informal ground cover. 

arthropodium-cirratum

Arthropodium cirratum

rengarenga,maikaika, rock lily, New Zealand rock lily

New Zealand native, clump-forming perennial with drooping, strap-like leaves and white flowers in late spring to early summer. Dull-green leaves, 40-70 cm long and 3-10 cm wide, arranged in basal rosettes. Star-shaped white to cream flowers, 2 cm across, produced in long-stalked panicles. Flower stamens are white and purple with curled yellow tips. Occurs naturally in New Zealand throughout the North Island and northern parts of the South Island. It can be found in a range of different habitats from coastal regions to forests and exposed, rocky, inland areas. Several cultivars have been developed, differing from the species in size and width of the leaves.

Rengarenga was used by Maori for nutritional, medicinal, spiritual and cultural purposes.

Prefers free-draining soil in full sun or shade. Tolerates dry conditions. Suitable for very exposed sites, but has a smaller, tighter habit in such conditions. Leaves are damaged by light to moderate frosts, but even when all the leaves have turned into a brown mush due to frost burn, there is a good chance that the plant will recover in spring. To maintain a healthy, tidy appearance, pull out spent flower stalks, remove old or damaged leaves, and protect from snails and slugs. Fertilise or add compost if the plant seems to sulk and the foliage turns yellowish. Easy to propagate by division.

Arthropodium cirratum looks great when planted en masse as a ground cover under trees. Very attractive when in flower. Particularly effective when used as a foliage plant, adding a structural dimension to mixed plantings. Also suitable for containers.

asplenium-oblongifolium

Asplenium oblongifolium

shining spleenwort, huruhuru (whenua), paranako, paretao

Tufted evergreen fern with arching glossy green fronds. Over time fronds can grow up to 1.5 m long, but Asplenium oblongifolium is slow growing and remains much smaller for a long time. Slightly toothed leaflets to 15 cm long. Endemic to New Zealand. Occurs naturally in coastal and lower montane areas in the North Island and parts of the South Island of New Zealand.

Performs best in dry shade, and as such is perfect for areas under established trees. Tolerates full sun, but fronds are shorter and paler green. Wet intolerant.

 

astelia-chathamica-silver-spear

Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear'

Large clump-forming plant with silvery, flax-like foliage, native to New Zealand. The leaves are broad and stiff, but droop towards the ends. Flowers are produced in spring and are followed by orange fruits. They are generally obscured and dominated by the foliage.

Suitable for sun or shade. Requires well-draining soil. Drought tolerant. Although Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' tolerates quite windy conditions, the leaves hold their shape better when conditions are not too exposed. Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' is intolerant of high moisture. Hardy to about -7oC.

Striking feature plant. The silvery foliage looks particularly good in sheltered, shady or partially shaded conditions. Careful when combining Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spear' with other grey-leafed plants; this tends to become quite overpowering. Instead, you could consider a combination with fine-leafed grasses or blue-flowering plants such as Dichroa and Geranium. An attractive, but strong contrast can be achieved with Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. Suitable for containers.

aucuba-japonica

Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia'

variegated spotted laurel, variegated gold dust plant

Slow growing bushy shrub with shiny, leathery, toothed leaves, 6 to 12 cm long, heavily spotted and blotched with yellow. Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia' is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants. The flowers are tiny and insignificant, chocolate brown to purplish, .5 cm across. On female plants, the flowers are followed after pollination by bright red, 1 cm wide berries. Foliage and berries are harmful when ingested.

Thrives in shade or partial shade. Leaves may get scorched in full sun. Requires well-draining soil, and does not cope with waterlogged conditions. Tolerates air pollution. Usually has a compact growth habit, but can be pruned to shape. Withstands drought, although growth is more luxuriant with regular moisture supply.

Wonderful foliage plant to lighten up a dark area, or to give your garden a lush, tropical feel. Also looks good as a hedge for year-round interest. If you like to see berries on your shrub, make sure to select a male plant for pollination and a female plant for fruit production. One male plant is sufficient for about eight female plants. Looks lovely in combination with the purple flowers of Liriope muscari, which thrives in similar growing conditions.

brugmansia-sanguinea

Brugmansia sanguinea

red or scarlet angel's trumpet, red Brugmansia, eagle tree, red floripondio

Evergreen shrub or sometimes a small tree, native to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Large, ovate, felted leaves, often wavy or shallowly lobed,18-25 cm long, smaller on flowering stems. Solitary, pendulous trumpet-shaped flowers, 15-20 cm long, yellowish with scarlet-orange. Unlike the flowers of most other Brugmansia species, which are scented to attract moths for pollination, Brugmansia sanguinea flowers are not fragrant, and in their native habitat are pollinated by hummingbirds. All parts are poisonous. Naturalised in New Zealand.

Synonyms: Datura sanguinea, Datura roseiDatura rubella, Brugmansia bicolor, Brugmansia lutea.

Prefers a sheltered position in partial or full shade. In cool climates, a sunny position is fine too. Hot temperatures inhibit flowering. Difficult to propagate from vertical cuttings, but can be propagated from horizontal stem sections or layering. Tolerates light to medium frosts. May be damaged by moderate frosts, but generally survives.

Specimen shrub with a tropical appearance and beautiful flowers for most of the year. 

brunnera-macrophylla-jack-frost

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Clump-forming, spring flowering, herbaceous perennial, mainly grown for its attractive basal foliage. Slowly spreading by creeping rhizomes. Large, heart-shaped, silvery white leaves with green veins and margins. Small, light blue, forget-me-not-like flowers, held above the foliage on 20-50 cm long stalks. Foliage is evergreen in mild climates, but in colder regions, the leaves die back from late autumn.

Ideal for a position where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade, but will also grow in full shade. Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' handles more sun than most other variegated brunneras, but in regions with hot summers, leaves may be scorched by afternoon sun. Prefers consistently moist, but well-draining, rich soils, and is not tolerant of dry conditions. Frost-hardy. For a tidy appearance, remove old or damaged leaves if present, just before the new foliage appears. Self-seeds, but seedlings may turn out different from the parent plant, and may even have lost the silvery leaf colour variegation. Can be divided in spring or autumn.

Excellent choice for the woodland garden. Lovely companion for other shade-loving plants such as hostas and ferns, for spring-flowering bulbs, or for dark-leafed plants such as black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'. Good ground-covering and edging plant.

buxus-sempervirens

Buxus sempervirens

common box, English box, European box, boxwood

Evergreen fine-textured shrub or tree with small green leaves and inconspicuous greenish cream flowers. Glossy green, simple, ovate to oblong leaves, 1.5-2.5 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. Foliage emits a distinctive scent that is not to everyone's liking. Fresh green spring leaves, turning mid to dark green later in the year. Clusters of tiny flowers without petals during late spring. Usually grown and maintained as a shrub, but can eventually reach tree-like proportions up to about 9 m tall.

Grows in a wide range of conditions, except waterlogged soil. Once established, Buxus sempervirens tolerates drought. In suitable growing conditions, a growth rate of 10-15 cm can be expected. In deep shade, very exposed situations, or very poor soils, growth is much slower. Most cultivars have a slower growth rate than the species. Responds well to trimming, and can be maintained to a height of 50 cm or less for many years. Trimming during late summer gives the plant a chance to produce sufficient new growth from early spring, and prevents sunburn of young leaves formed after the trim. After a number of years cut out some of the mature stems below the pruning height for the rest of the plant to improve ventilation through the foliage and avoid overcrowding at the top.

Widely used as a formal hedging plant with about 4 to 6 plants per meter for low hedges. Suitable for topiary projects. Since it can be trimmed to any shape, Buxus sempervirens is a very useful shrub to add a structural element to garden beds. Can also be grown in containers. 

camellia-autumn-herald

Camellia 'Autumn Herald'

Evergreen shrub with single, pale pink flowers during autumn and early winter, about 7 cm across with golden yellow stamens. Originated in New Zealand as a hybrid with Camellia pitardii as one of the parents.

Prefers partial shade, but tolerates shade and copes with full sun. Likes well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Prune after flowering.

One of the earliest camellias to flower.

camellia-kanjiro

Camellia 'Kanjiro'

Also known as 'Hiryu'. Recorded as Camellia hiemalis 'Kanjiro' in the International Camellia register, but listed elsewhere as a cultivar of Camellia sasanqua.

Vigorous evergreen shrub with glossy dark green, toothed leaves. Very free-flowering in late autumn and early winter with slightly fragrant single to semi-double flowers, about 8 cm across, cerise pink to rosy red, paler towards center of the petals, gold stamens.

Responds to pruning after flowering. Likes well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Prefers partial shade, but tolerates full shade and copes with a position in full sun. Hardy to -18oC.

 

carpodetus-serratus

Carpodetus serratus

putaputaweta, marble leaf, bucket of water tree

Upright tree with rough, grey bark and branches spreading outward in tiers, endemic to New Zealand, occurring naturally throughout the country along damp forest margins and stream sides. Thin, usually mottled, ovate to elliptic leaves with finely toothed margins, 3-6 cm x 2-3 cm. Clusters of small white, .5 cm wide flowers in spring, followed in autumn by pea-sized, round fruits in cup-like receptacles, green initially, turning black on maturity. Carpodetus serratus has a juvenile form with tangled, zigzag, interlacing branches, and smaller, rounded leaves. Juvenile and mature growth may exist on the same tree. The tree acts as a host for the puriri moth caterpillars.

Putaputaweta is a Maori word meaning 'many wetas', referring to wetas making their homes in the holes left by larvae of the puriri moth. The name 'bucket of water' refers to the very sappy wood.

Prefers a damp, sheltered position in sun or shade, and fertile soil. Prune to maintain a good shape and remove dead wood. Tolerates -10 deg Celsius once established. Suitable for wetland planting and ok for coastal areas.

Carpodetus serratus can grow into an elegant, small tree that is completely covered with flowers in spring. 

choisya-ternata

Choisya ternata

Mexican orange blossom, Mexican orange

Rounded, evergreen shrub native to southern USA and Mexico. Glossy leaves palmately divided into three leaflets, 5-8 cm long, covered with oilglands, aromatic when crushed.  Clusters of small, star-shaped, scented, pure white flowers, 1-2 cm across, similar to orange blossoms in shape and fragrance. Main flowering season is spring, but flowers intermittently during the rest of the year.

Choisya ternata prefers a sheltered position in full sun, but copes with full shade. In very hot climates a position in partial shade whithout afternoon sun is best. Will grow in a range of soils, including sandy or loamy, and acidic or neutral. Drought tolerant once established. 

Lightly prune after flowering.

 

clivia-miniata

Clivia miniata

Natal lily, bush lily

Clump-forming, evergreen, rhizomatous perennial, native to South Africa. Strap-shaped, shiny dark green leaves, 0.6-1 m long and 5-8 cm wide. Long-stalked umbels of 10-20 or more brilliant orange, trumpet-shaped flowers during early spring, and sporadically at other times of the year. Flowers are followed by berries containing up to 20 seeds, but usually less than 10. Several cultivars are available, including bright yellow, creamy yellow, pale orange, red-orange forms. All parts are poisonous.

Prefers a sheltered spot in full or dappled shade and well-draining soil. Avoid a position in bright sunlight to prevent damage to the leaves.  Water only in dry weather during the warmer months of the year, but keep dry during winter. Tolerates light frosts only. Easy to propagate by means of division.

Excellent plant for a position under the eaves on the shady side of the house. Bold and bright flower display when planted en masse. Flowers last well on water. Foliage is attractive all year round and has good strong, textural qualities, perfect for gardens with a (sub)tropical theme or for combinations with finer-leafed plants, such as ferns. Suitable for containers, either as an indoor or outdoor plant.

daphne-odora-alba

Daphne odora 'Alba'

Compact evergreen shrub with deep green foliage and highly fragrant white flowers in late winter. Narrow, leathery leaves to 8 cm long. Waxy flowers in clusters of about 4 cm wide.

Prefers slightly-acid soil and a sheltered, partially shaded position with protection from hot afternoon sun. Copes with shade. The soil must be well-draining to prevent rootrot. You could raise the planting bed to improve drainage if necessary. No pruning required other than a light tip prune once a year.

Choose a position where you can enjoy the exquisite perfume, e.g. near the entrance to your house, next to paths, beneath the bathroom window, or grow in a container and move it when in flower to where you like. Great for woodland gardens.

Daphne odora is susceptible to non-treatable virus diseases that may cause yellowing, mottling and distortion of the leaves, so make sure to start with a healthy plant with deep green foliage. Avoid working the soil around the shrub as much as possible; daphnes don't like their roots disturbed.