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 areas: Ngaio 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.