Our District

Plants for dry places

  • Look for what’s growing well around your neighbourhood. Things that look great on TV or in a magazine might not thrive in your own patch.
  • Edit: Don’t be afraid to dig out things that aren’t doing well- give them to friends in wetter/hotter neighbourhoods
  • Group together plants that like the same conditions - eg succulents in a sunny, dry spot (they hate overwatering), woodland shrubs or ferns in shade with deep mulch.
  • Start: Some things need water to get established, then can thrive alone. Plant in rainy weather, water and mulch well.
  • Seasonal change: Make the most of spring and autumn rains to establish veges

We asked Kāpiti nursery people and garden clubs for their top drought-resistant plants:

Drought-tolerant poppies, statice, lychnis, alstroemeria and pelargoniums

Gazania, aeonium `Schwartzkopf', `Dark delight’ flax and natuve euphoria


Bulbs: The original `camel’ plants with their own water storage to withstand dry months. Choose a variety for flowers from late winter through until autumn: Tulip, daffodil, gladioli, lilies, amaryllis, eucomis

Hot, dry spots: Trees and shrubs: proteas, leucodendron, bottlebrush, ngaio.

Smaller plants: Succulents: sedum, aloe; lavender, tussocks, rosemary, Pimelia, Xeronema, Chinocloa (mini toetoe).

Dune conditions: try natives like muehlenbeckia, spinifex, Coprosma repens (taupata), Coprosma acerosa, Coprosma rhamnoides, manuka, flax.

Check out the booklet A Guide to Growing Native Plants in Kāpiti (on Council’s website). 

Dry shade: These can be the trickiest areas. Try rengarenga Arthropodium cirrhatum; astelia eg A. Silver Spear; muttonbird sedge Carex trifida, Kawakawa Macropiper excelsum;

Windy, exposed areasNgaio Myoporum laetum, harakeke/flax Phormium, taupata Coprosma repens; Brachyglottis greyii, Hebe spp;

Flowers: Establish these between autumn and spring if possible so they can survive summer droughts.

Kangaroo paw Anigozanthus; lamb’s ear Stachys byzantina; lavender; Iris spp; Gypsophila; Sedum; Alstroemeria; Gazania, Osteospermum, Verbena bonariensis, Grevillea, wallflowers.

Annuals: many will selfsow and return year after year: Lychnis, hollyhocks, Echium, Calendula, Coreopsis, poppies of all kinds.

Roses: Rugosa (eg Roseraie de l’Hay, Blanc Double de Coubert) and gallica roses originate in dry sandy conditions, and are fragrant and tough.

Herbs: Many herbs, especially those originating around the Mediterranean, are well suited to dry conditions; in fact over-rich soil shortens their lives. Rosemary, lavender, thyme, sage, chives, oregano, lemon verbena, lemon balm, bay, pineapple sage.

Fruit: Bear in mind that crops will always be better the more water they get. Greywater systems are a great way to water fruit trees every time you have a shower or wash clothes.

Grapes do well on a hot sunny wall. Bishop Pompallier, a dark red table grape.

Stonefruit Can handle drought once they get their roots down.

Peaches grow well in sandy soil, especially white-fleshed peaches like `River’. They are however prone to leaf curl without shelter though from cold winds.

Plums: do well once established. `Hawera’ is dark-fleshed and self fertile. `Billington’ is reliable, cropping in January.

Citrus do best in a sheltered microclimate with plenty of mulch. Lemons, grapefruit and kumquats are cold-hardiest (but still don’t like hard frosts while young) followed by mandarins, Tahitian limes, kaffir limes and oranges.




The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.

Community Visits and workshops are free. Get together five friends or neighbours and invite the Green Gardener round.

Contact Hannah through the Council Service Desk 296 4700 or at greengardener@kapiticoast.govt.nz

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