Plant Guide

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Sunny

grevillea-robusta

Grevillea robusta

silky oak, silk oak, Australian silver oak

Large evergreen tree in the Proteaceae family, native to Australia, with a pyramidal to oval crown and fern-like foliage. Golden orange flowers, arranged in 8-16 cm long, bottlebrush-like racemes, on mature trees in spring-summer. Mid to dark green, divided leaves to about 30 cm long, with silky, silvery white undersides. Widely planted for timber, shelter, and ornamental purposes. Naturalised in many regions of the world. Has become invasive in some areas, such as Hawaii, Brazil, South Africa, and parts of Australlia, where it competes with the indigenous vegetation. Contains toxins. Leaves may cause skin irritation, and can inhibit establishment of other plant species. Attracts nectar-feeding birds.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Tolerates rather poor soils. Frost-tender when young, hardy to about -8 0C when mature. Reasonably drought tolerant once established. Suitable for coastal areas with protection from persistent, strong winds.

Beautiful tree when in flower, but needs plenty of space. It is not a tidy tree and produces quite a large amount of litter, in particular in winter just before the new leaves emerge. Young plants can be used as indoor foliage plants.

griselinia-littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

kapuka, papauma, broadleaf

Glossy bright green oval leaves 5 to 10 cm long and to 5 cm wide. Panicles of very tiny greenish flowers in spring. Occurs in forests throughout New Zealand. Grows as a tree up to 15 m high in nature, but is generally grown as a shrub or hedge in garden situations and maintained at a height of 1.5 to 4 m.

Will grow in a wide range of conditions. Prefers a sunny position, but also tolerates shade. Intolerant of excessively wet sites. Suitable for exposed areas. Quite drought tolerant once established. To keep the plant compact, prune once a year, preferably with secateurs (as opposed to pruning shears).  Hardy to -12 0C.

The fresh green foliage of Griselinia littoralis combines beautifully with divaricating plants such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, with flax-like plants and with taller grasses such as Chionochloa flavicans. Forms a good background for feature plantings, and perfect as a hedge.

griselinia-lucida

Griselinia lucida

puka, akapuka

Evergreen plant with large, glossy foliage, endemic to New Zealand where it is found in forests and coastal areas. Grows well as a shrub or tree in cultivation, but in its natural habitat, Griselinia lucida commences life as an epiphyte, perched high in tall trees, sending roots towards the ground. These roots can become quite thick and deeply furrowed. Eventually the plant may establish itself as an independent plant, but it usually  remains epiphytic and collapses when the host plant dies. The ovate to oblong leaves are thick and leathery, about 10-18 cm long and 4-10 cm wide. Leaf margins on either side are attached at different points to a 2-3 cm long petiole. Inconspicuous, male and female flowers on separate plants in spring. On female plants, the flowers are followed by 0.5-1 cm long fruits, green initially, and turning dark bluish purple to black later.

The common name 'puka' is also used for a different New Zealand native, Meryta sinclairii.

Griselinia lucida requires free-draining soil. Suitable for a position in full sun or shade. Leaves tend to be larger on plants grown in shady spots. Tolerant of wind and coastal conditions. Susceptible to Phytophtora (root rot). If the plant is sulking and its leaves are losing their gloss, dig it up, prune, and transplant (if there still are some healthy roots present) in a drier position. Prune to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts.

Attractive, lush foliage, perfect for a tropical themed garden. Often grown as a shrub, but can be trained to a single leader. Forms a lovely contrast with fine-leafed shrubs, such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, flax-like plants, and grasses like Chionochloa flavicans.

hardenbergia-violacea

Hardenbergia violacea

false sarsaparilla, purple coral pea, happy wanderer, native lilac, vine lilac, lilac vine

Vigorous evergreen climber with wiry stems, native to Australia. Occurs naturally in a variety of habitats, including coastal areas and mountains. Simple, oval to lance-shaped, mid to dark green, leathery leaves to 12 cm long, with prominent veins. Violet purple pea-like flowers, 1 cm across, smother the pant in pendent racemes during mid to late winter and early spring.

Synonym: Hardenbergia monophylla

Hardy to -70C, but some damage may occur at lighter frosts. Flowers best in full sun and well-draining neutral or acidic soil, but tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Has a low water requirement once established. Prune hard after flowering to keep compact, encourage new growth, and to prevent the plant from becoming leggy at the base.

Ideal climber for flower display from mid winter. May also be grown as a ground cover, spilling over banks. Suitable as an indoor plant in bright light.

hebe-pretty-in-pink

Hebe 'Pretty in Pink"

Small, bun-shaped, evergreen shrub in the Hollywood series of hebes. Its main asset is the burgundy purple foliage during the colder months of the year. In the photo of the flowering specimen (taken mid-summer) you can see the foliage colour as it is during the rest of the year. The flower spikes are up to about 5cm 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. 

helichrysum-italicum

Helichrysum italicum

curry plant, immortelle, everlasting

Small evergreen shrub in the daisy family (Asteraceae), native to Southern Europe. Linear, silvery, curry-scented leaves. Clusters of yellow flower heads during summer. Essential oil extracted from Helichrysum italicum is used for medicinal purposes. 

Synonym: Helichrysum angustifolium.

Prefers a sunny position in light, well-draining soil, but can cope with semi-shade and somewhat heavier soils. Not tolerant of full shade. Suitable for poor soils. Drought-tolerant once established. Prune once or twice a year to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts to about -10oC.

The curry scent is very intense, so plant it where you can enjoy the aroma without it overpowering other fragrances in your garden. Helichrysum italicum forms a delicate colour and textural combination with purple sage (see photo gallery). I have used the leaves in cooking, but they did not actually seem to add anything in terms of taste. The flowers retain their colour well after cutting and drying.

helichrysum-petiolare-limelight

Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight'

limelight licorice plant

Evergreen, trailing shrub in the daisy family. Behaves as a climber when given support. Woolly, lime-green, rounded to ovate leaves with entire margins, 3.5 x 3.5 cm, emitting a mild licorice scent when crushed. Rarely flowers with insignificant creamy white flowers in late summer. The South African species Helichrysum petiolare is more vigorous and has become an invasive weed in several areas of the world, including New Zealand. The cultivar 'Limelight' won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1992.

Synonym: Helichrysum petiolare 'Aureum'.

Prefers partially shaded position in any well-drained soil. Will also grow in full sun or shade. Drought-tolerant once established. Usually pest-free, but may be affected by powdery mildew. OK for coastal gardens. Prune at any time of the year to keep tidy and compact. Tolerates light to moderate frosts of about -7 to -1 degrees Celsius (USDA zones 9-11).

Looks great when combined with dark green, bronze, or burgundy foliage. Also suitable for large containers.

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.

hymenosporum-flavum

Hymenosporum flavum

Australian frangipani, native frangipani (Australia), sweet shade

Slender, evergreen tree, native to the rainforests of Australia (Queensland and New South Wales) and New Guinea. Belongs to the Pittosporaceae, the same family as Pittosporum. Fast growing once established. Relatively open and narrow canopy with a distinct horizontal branch pattern. Oblong to lanceolate, glossy green leaves with hairy undersides, 10 cm long by 4 cm wide. Very fragrant, 3-5 cm wide flowers, produced in clusters during spring or early summer. They are creamy white initially and turn yellow with age, sometimes with a reddish center, eventually followed by long pear-shaped seed capsules. Flowers resemble those of Plumeria, the frangipani tree, in size, shape and fragrance, hence the common name. Attracts birds and bees.

Prefers a sheltered position in any well-draining, alkaline to neutral soil. Flowers best in full sun, but can be grown in partial shade. Tolerates considerable drought and moderate frosts once established. Protect young plants from frosts. Suitable for coastal gardens, but since the branches are quite brittle, the tree needs protection from strong winds. 

Beautiful tree, smothered in sweetly scented flowers in spring or early summer. Thanks to its narrow growth habit, Hymenosporum flavum is suitable for smaller gardens. With a relatively sparsely branched canopy, it forms an attractive silhouette against a tall wall. Pruning encourages the development of a more compact crown.

iochroma-cyaneum

Iochroma cyaneum

Fast growing evergreen shrub with downy shoots and felted leaves, native to northwestern South America. Dark bluish purple tubular flowers, 6 cm long, in clusters, mainly during summer. Belongs to the nightshade family. All parts are poisonous.

Synonym: Iochroma tubulosum

Iochroma cyaneum prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade. Prune in early spring. Tolerates frosts to about -7 oC once established.

Gorgeous, dark purple flowers contrasting beautifully with the mid green leaves. Plant in the back of borders for flower display during summer and as a filler or green backdrop for other plants during the rest of the year. 

jacaranda-mimosifolia

Jacaranda mimosifolia

blue Jacaranda, fern tree, black poui, Brazilian rosewood, blue haze tree

Fast growing, deciduous tree, native to South America, with a spreading crown, bright green, fern-like leaves and purplish blue flowers in late spring or summer. Belongs to the Bignoniaceae family. Large (to about 45 cm long) leaves, twice pinnately compound, divided into many smaller (to 1 cm long) leaflets, turning yellow in autumn. Tubular flowers, 2.5-5 cm long, grouped in 30 cm long clusters, forming a blue carpet after falling to the ground. Woody, 5 cm wide, reddish brown seed pods with many small, winged seeds. Widely grown as an ornamental tree. In some parts of the world (e.g. South Africa and Queensland, Australia) Jacaranda mimosifolia is regarded as an invasive plant, posing a threat to the native vegetation.

Synonyms: Jacaranda chelonia, Jacaranda ovalifolia.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and very well-draining soil. Drought tolerant. Not suitable for waterlogged or clay soils. Tolerates, but does not grow and flower as well in, partial shade. No pruning required. In fact, pruning tends to destroy the natural umbrella-shape of the canopy by encouraging the tree to produce vertical shoots. Survives brief spells of moderate frosts (to about -8oC).                                 

A gorgeous specimen or shade tree with magnificent flowers and delicate, graceful foliage, but make sure you have enough space. Not a tidy tree, so plant in a position where leaf and flower litter are not a problem. Flowers may stain hard surfaces.

jasminum-polyanthemum

Jasminum polyanthum

pink jasmine, white jasmine

Very vigorous evergreen climber native to China. Pinnately compound, dark green leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. Masses of reddish pink flowerbuds open during late winter and early spring (and intermittently during the rest of the year) to fragrant white, starry flowers, 2 cm across and 4 cm long, sometimes followed by small glossy black berries. Spreads quickly by producing long runners and forming roots where nodes are in contact with soil. Runners can even grow under buidlings since the plant is tolerant to full shade and drought. Is naturalised in Australia and New Zealand, and is regarded as an invasive species in several regions of these countries. Forms a dense ground cover, preventing the establishment of native seedlings and smothering other vegetation. 

Very easy to grow and propagate. Tolerant to a range of extreme conditions including sun, shade, drought, dampness, salt, and wind. Prune to keep compact and remove runners to prevent the plant from spreading elsewhere. If you wish to grow Jasminum polyanthemum in New Zealand or Australia check with the local authorities to make sure it is not banned in your area.

Grown for its strongly perfumed flowers and vigorous climbing habit. Suitable as an indoor plant.

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.

lagunaria-patersonii

Lagunaria patersonii

Norfolk Island hibiscus, pyramid tree, Queensland white oak, itch tree, cow itch tree

Australian, evergreen tree or shrub with a columnar to pyramidal shape, endemic to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and parts of Queensland. Oval, olive to grey green leaves, 5-10 cm long. Flowering in summer and early autumn with hibiscus-like, 4-8 cm wide flowers, pale pink, fading to white. Stamens are arranged in a single, central column, typical for members of the Malvaceae (mallow family). Flowers are followed by furry seed capsules, filled with tiny hairs which are like fiber-glass splinters and cause itching and skin inflammation. Lagunaria patersonii 'Royal Purple' has crimson flowers.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Not suitable for heavy clay soils. Can handle considerable drought and copes well in poor soils. Ideal for coastal gardens and windy locations. Tolerates light frosts. 

Versatile plant for flower display during late summer. Suitable for screening and hedging purposes. Tends to have branches and foliage all the way along the stem from ground level, but can be grown as a clear-stemmed specimen by regularly removing new growth from the main trunk. The canopy is relatively narrow, so even though Lagunaria patersonii can grow quite tall, it is suitable for smaller spaces. Plant this tree in areas where the seed pods cannot pose problems (i.e. away from pools and public spaces, in particular those frequented by children).