Indigenous landscaping & garden design
in Johannesburg & Pretoria, South Africa

15 water-wise plants for your garden

  • 15 water-wise plants for your garden

    South Africa is home to a rich diversity of water wise plants. Below we list some common favourites to get you started on your journey to a water wise, indigenous garden

    With the recent drought in South Africa, homeowners have become more savvy in the way they use water in their homes. Many have installed rainwater harvesting systems, whilst others have installed boreholes to utilise groundwater. These measures go some way to making us water-wise, but despite these measures homeowners may still wonder what to do about their gardens. Many gardens still incorporate one or more exotics that may require higher than normal watering cycles, and this is where the use of indigenous, water-wise planting can be beneficial. It is sometimes assumed that water-wise planting means only using succulents, but this is not necessarily the case, and there are many plant species that may not be considered 'succulent', but are nonetheless beneficial in their own way to help you conserve water in your garden. Groundcovers, for example, can spread to cover the soil, thereby helping to conserve water by reducing evaporation. Deciduous bulbs and trees go dormant in winter, and can naturally survive periods of drought. And many grassland species are inherently water-wise, so incorporating these in your garden will help lower your water requirements.

    Before we look at a list of possible plants, here are some other changes you can make to your garden to make it a more water-wise space:

    • Reduce the size of your lawn, or create a lawn-free garden
      Lawns may require up to 25mm of water per week in summer (in Gauteng) in order to keep them lush, whilst a water-wise bed will require much less water. So reducing the size of your lawn and changing it to an indigenous garden bed is a great way to reduce your water requirements.
    • Zone your plants based on their water requirements
      If you are going to make changes to your garden, try to zone your plants based on their water requirements. For example, if you want a rose garden or a food garden, dedicate specific areas for these plants so that you can water those spaces accordingly.
    • Incorporate already existing natural habitats into your new layout
      If you already have an existing indigenous grassland or woodland on your property, incorporate it into your new landscape. Think of it as your own private nature reserve, or an exclusion zone for wildlife. To make it accessible cut back some of the foliage and add pathways and seating areas so you can journey through and enjoy the space.
    • Use mulch and do not turn the soil or rake up leaves
      Mulch and fallen leaves act as a 'blanket' to protect your soil, helping with water retention, and eventually breaking down to become compost. Some people worry that leaves look 'messy', and ask their gardeners to rake them up and dig the soil. But this leads to poor quality soil, resulting in a lower water infiltration rate, drainage problems, soil erosion, and dust around the home. Instead of raking up leaves and digging the soil, leave the leaves in place (as happens naturally in our wild habitats), or cover the bare soil with groundcovers.
    • Choose locally indigenous plant species
      Locally indigenous plants - such as those growing in a nearby nature reserve - are already adapted to your climate, and once established will require little supplemental watering. So designing a garden using locally indigenous species will allow you to create a wonderfully water-wise space, as well as increasing the biodiversity of your area.

    To get you started, here are some well-known South African plants worth considering when changing your ‘thirsty’ garden into a water-wise space. Keep in mind that these species occur in different parts of the country, so may not be locally indigenous to your area. Use the list as a guide, and remember that South Africa is home to a rich diversity of plants. My goal is not to limit your selection, but rather to get you started on your indigenous garden journey. Once gardening becomes an obsession (yes, it can!), speak to your local nursery about locally indigenous species you can add your home.

    Herewith are 15 water-wise plants for your garden:

    Aptenia cordifolia

    This beautiful succulent groundcover is a favourite for retaining walls and dry patches of soil where other plants may struggle. It is rich-green in colour, with dainty pinkish-red flowers and can spread rapidly, helping to cover an area in a short space of time. It can be used to stabilise soil in areas which may be susceptible to run-off or erosion, or can be used as a lawn replacement for difficult to reach areas. A golden-coloured variety is also available.

    Dietes spp.

    These grass-like perennials have become ubiquitous on South African verges and in gardens. They are hardy, and once established require little watering or maintenance. A few varieties are available, including Dietes grandiflora with white flowers, Dietes bicolor with yellow flowers, and Dietes iridioides for shaded areas of the garden. They can be mass-planted to create beautiful backdrops to a bed, or used as filler shrubs for dry areas in the garden.

    Tulbaghia violacea

    Tulbaghia (Wild Garlic) is one of the hardiest species on this list, and has become popular with gardeners and landscape architects around the country. It has a long-flowering period, and when mass planted creates a stunning display with its pinkish-mauve flowers. It can survive extended dry spells as well as heavy rain, and can even be planted in a wetland to take up nutrients from the water. It is generally a fuss-free plant provided it is used in a sunny to semi-shade position, and clumps can be split after a few years and used elsewhere in the garden.

    Agapanthus praecox

    Agapanthus is one of the most popular plants in South Africa, and is cultivated world-wide. The beautiful blue or white blooms look stunning during the summer flowering season, and help to liven up an otherwise dull area of the garden. The evergreen foliage provides colour throughout the year, and the plants can withstand a fair amount of neglect. Once again, Agapanthus forms clumps, which can be split after a few years and reused elsewhere in the garden.

    Coleus neochilus (formerly Plectranthus neochilus)

    This aromatic succulent perennial is ideal for a rockery or retaining wall where it holds a neat shape and provides a wonderful colour contrast with its grey-green foliage. Purple-blue lobster-shaped flowers add to its appeal. Cuttings root easily and can be used elsewhere in the garden as filler groundcovers, or mass planted to form a beautiful border to a bed. It is hardy and water-wise, and care should be taken not to over-water it which may result in the plant becoming ‘leggy’ and losing its neat shape.

    Carpobrotus spp.

    This hardy, evergreen succulent has become popular in landscape architecture, and is frequently used as a replacement for lawn on verges. At the coast it is used to stabilise sand dunes, and can be grown in areas where other plants may struggle. Cuttings root easily, and the triangular shaped leaves and fruit are favoured by birds, especially Grey Go-away-birds (Grey Louries). It generally prefers sunny to semi-shaded areas, where it will spread rapidly to cover bare soil. Common species include C. edulis with yellow flowers, and C. deliciosus with pinkish-purple flowers.

    Aloe spp.

    Aloes are hardy, beautiful species that can be used as shrubs or as structural plants in water-wise gardens. Numerous species exist in Southern Africa, and a number of hybrids have been cultivated for the market. Popular naturally occurring species include Aloe arborescens (Krantz Aloe), Aloe marlothii (Mountain Aloe), and Aloe Ferox (Bitter Aloe). Note that many Aloe species suffer from a leaf scale which can turn the plants white, and homeowners should be proactive in removing this. Snout beetle is also a common problem, as it can damage leaves and the stem of the plants. To prevent these problems avoid overwatering your aloes, and consult your local nursery for eco-friendly solutions.

    Strelitzia reginae

    Strelitzia reginae is one of South Africa’s favourite exports, and is cultivated worldwide – it has even become the official flower of Los Angeles! Strelitzias are hardy, and once established can withstand long dry spells and a fair amount of neglect. Plants can be grown in both sun and shade, and provide a beautiful structural display when in flower. Flowers resemble the head of a crane, hence the common name Crane Flower or Bird of Paradise, and both the leaves and flowers can be used in a cut-flower display.

    Dymondia margaretae

    Dymondia is a very low-growing groundcover, and although it requires some water to establish itself, it is ideal for areas where homeowners want to replace lawn with a low-maintenance, water wise solution. The grey-green foliage provides a wonderful effect, and yellow daisy-like flowers add to the display. Dymondia works well between pavers in a sunny area, or planted in a bare patch of soil in the front of a bed. It is drought resistant and will tolerate a small amount of foot traffic – all in all a wonderful species for the water-conscious gardener.

    Asparagus densiflorus

    Asparagus groundcovers are hardy, drought-resistant bedding plants. They prefer semi-shade conditions, but will survive in full sun or shade, and can be used to good effect in a planter on a patio. The ‘Meyersii’ variety (Foxtail Fern) is perhaps the most well-known of the cultivars, with its fox-tail like fronds, whilst the ‘Sprengeri’ variety is useful as a spreading groundcover to help prevent soil erosion.

    Sansevieria spp.

    Popularly known as ‘Mother-in-laws’ Tongue, Sansevieria species are hardy plants ideally suited to shade conditions. They are frequently used indoors, and recent studies have shown that they can act effectively as air purifiers. The exotic species/varieties have become popular, but South African homeowners should look towards using some of the local species, such as S. hyacinthoides, S. aethiopica, and S. pearsonii. Large clumps can be split and reused elsewhere in the garden or in spare containers on the patio or indoors.

    Ledebouria petiolata (formerly Drimiopsis maculata)

    The Leopard Lily is a deciduous bulb that makes a wonderful groundcover if mass planted. It prefers semi-shade conditions, but will survive in sunny areas and can handle a fair amount of neglect. Use it to liven up a dry, semi-shaded corner of your garden, or add it to a mixed container. It has beautiful spotted leaves (hence the common name), and produces tiny white flowers on long stalks which are pollinated by moths at night.

    Bulbine frutescens

    This clump-forming groundcover has tubular succulent green leaves, giving it a grass-like appearance. It spreads quickly, producing star-shaped yellow or orange flowers borne on tall spikes. It can be mass planted for a water wise border, or added to a verge to cover bare patches of soil. Cuttings can be taken and planted at the base of young trees to assist with water retention and to help prevent accidental damage from weed-eaters.

    Chlorophytum comosum

    Popularly known as Hen-and-chickens, Chlorophytum comosum can be used to good effect to cover bare soil in semi-shaded conditions in your garden. Mass planted they make a stunning display, and work beautifully on a semi-shaded embankment or on a retaining wall. The variegated varieties also brighten up those dull spots in the garden, whilst the green variety adds a beautiful, lush forest effect. Some homeowners prefer to cut the ‘chickens’ off the mother plant, but it is often preferable to leave these in place as they will soon root themselves and help to spread the plant around your garden, thereby helping to prevent soil erosion and aiding water retention.

    Indigenous grasses

    And finally, South Africa is home to a diverse array of indigenous grasses, many of which are some of our hardiest and most water-wise plants. Some grasses can be difficult to cultivate, but those that are available in nurseries usually make beautiful additions to residential and commercial gardens. Popular species include Aristida junciformis and Melinis repens (pictured above), but there are many others, so if you are wanting to create a water-wise garden then consider visiting your local indigenous nursery and trying a few species out. Apart from being water-wise, grasses will also give your garden a new foliage texture, adding contrast and a sense of movement as they shift in the breeze.

    100 comments on “15 water-wise plants for your garden”

    1. ## Comment SPAM Protection: Shield Security marked this comment as "SPAM". Reason: Human SPAM filter found "valuble" in "comment_content" ##
      Good morning,
      Thank you for your valuble website.
      We moving to Pretoria into a retirement village. The garden is small with no shaded trees.
      Could you recommend a fast growing tree but the roots must not be invasive please.
      Thanking you

      1. Hi Meisie

        Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

        You may consider one of the following small trees to provide shade to your new garden:
        - Dais cotinifolia (Pompon tree)
        - Indigofera jacunda (River indigo)
        - Scherebra alata (Wild jasmine)


    2. Hi Glenice. Your advice is all so helpful. Thank you!
      I live in a complex on the KZN coast with sewerage taks and french drains below each unit. It gets hot and dry, but when the rains come, the french drains sometimes flood. Could you recommend indigenous shrubs or trees that would be happy in dry heat or wet,sludge which could help 'suck it up'? Thank you. Gill

      1. Hi Gill
        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You could consider a combination of the following species:
        - Buddleja saligna (False olive)
        - Typha capensis (Bulrush)
        - Kniphofia praecox (Red hot poker)
        - Chloris virgata (Feather-top chloris)
        - Sporobolus ioclados (Pan dropseed)
        - Setaria incrassata (Vlei bristle grass)


    3. Hi there, with the abundance of information on the internet it becomes easy to be overwhelmed - thank you so much for keeping this site interactive, and informative!

      I have an area thats about 3m L x 1m W bordering our pool that has about 10-15cm of depth (not much I know), it has full sun all day and I would love to plant something here thats low maintenance, leafy and non-flowering so it doesnt attract bees to the pool but I am not sure what would be suitable as there isnt much room for roots to grow deep. I live in Johannesburg.

      Would appreciate your guidance! 🙂

      1. Hi Bianca

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Your soil depth is very restrictive and most plants will battle under those conditions. Perhaps consider using rectangular planters which can assist in adding additional soil depth as well as fulfilling a decorative purpose.


    4. Hi Glenice
      I live on typical Cape Flats soil in Cape Town. One of the few plants which has thrived is a now 30 yr old Brazilian Pepper tree which has a spread of 5-6m from the trunk. It has a deep layer of mulch / compost created by its own leaves which have decomposed to feed the previously barren soil under it. Nothing seems to grow underneath it. Do you have any suggestions of ground covers which I can plant to pretty up the barren area beneath it? A few bush lilies have survived but the clivias I planted needed too much water so struggled. Water-wise and drought resistant plants are my first preference.

      1. Hi Debby

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        The Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolia) is an invasive tree with an aggressive root system.

        We've successfully planted the following around trees with similar root systems:
        - Chlorophytum comosum (Hen-and-chickens)
        - Crassula expansa (Trailing crassula)
        - Plectranthus ciliatus (Speckled spurflower)
        - Asparagus springeri (Sprenger's asparagus)


    5. I am in Durban and after the floods have had to rebuild my retaining wall. I would like to plant it with indigenous plants but nothing that is a creeper type. What would you suggest please, as all the articles I have sourced and read suggest mostly spreading plants.

      1. Hi Belinda

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Spreading plants are usually the preferred option for large areas but here are some low-maintenance clump-forming plants that you may consider:
        - Bulbine abyssinica (Bushy bulbine)
        - Tulbaghia violacaea (Wild garlic)
        - Aloe greatheadii (Spotted aloe)
        - Agapanthus 'nana' (Dwarf agapanthus)
        - Gerbera jamesonii (Barbeton daisy)
        - Several grass species
        - Albuca nelsonii (Candelabrum lily)
        - Gasteria species
        - Drimiopsis maculata (Leopard lily)
        - Asparagus densiflorus (Asparagus fern)
        - Eucomis zambesiaca (Dwarf pineapple lily)



    6. Dear Glenice,

      What a fountain of information! Thank you.
      Please send me suggestions for a flower bed east facing wall, sunny from 11am and a south facing quite high wall sunny mornings and shade late afternoons? My garden is in the Eastern Cape on the coast and luckily protected from winds.


      1. Hi Roz

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It's quite tricky to suggest plants for a space that I haven't seen, but you could perhaps consider the following:
        - Agapanthus praecox (Agapanthus)
        - Dietes grandiflora (Wild iris)
        - Chlorophytum saundersiae (Weeping anthericum)
        - Crocosmia aurea (Valentine flower)
        - Albuca nelsonii (Candelabrum lily)
        - Pelargonium species
        - Plectranthus species


    7. Dear Glenice,

      What a fountain of information! Thank you.
      Please send me suggestions for a flower bed east facing wall, sunny from 11am and a south facing quite high wall sunny mornings and shade late afternoons? My garden is in the Eastern Cape on the coast and luckily protected from winds.


    8. Dear Glenice,

      Thanks for all the information from the article and all your informative answers.

      I live in Johannesburg and am trying to plant as far as possible to the original biome - Egoli Granite grassland.

      We have a narrow bed between a wall and swimming pool that has a common issue - sunny in summer shade in winter.

      I see from another answer that you suggest using plants that grow in semi-shade for forest margins.
      Could you suggest appropriate plants in the original vegetation of egoli granite grassland for this situation?

      Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Bobby

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Plants you could consider for this space are:
        - Duvernoia aconitiflora (Yellow pistol bush)
        - Diospyros whyteana (Bladdernut)
        - Cassinopsis ilicifolia (Lemon thorn)
        - Seteria megaphylla (Broad-leaved bristle grass)
        - Mundulea sericea (Cork bush)


        1. Thanks so much for the advice Glenice and happy new year to you!

          I have been looking at these plants as well. Would any of these work too:

          Sansevieria aethiopica
          Freesia grandiflora
          Rhoicissus tridentata
          Asparagus plumosus
          Ledebouria ovatifolia
          Schizachyrium sanguineum
          Eragrostis chloromelas
          Loudetia simplex?

          1. Hi Bobby

            These plants will work for the region. You'd have to assess how much sun reaches the area for the grasses as they typically require full sun.

            All the best.

    9. Dear Glenice

      Please can you advise. We have just bought a house on the edge of a kloof.
      1- how can we get rid of ticks in an environmentally friendly was as don't want to hurt the wild animals our dogs or our kids.
      2 - how can we get rid of flourishing weeds and
      3 - what can we plant in the shade under the trees as the stars has all died.
      Many thanks

      1. Hi Tracey-Lee

        Thanks for contacting us and congratulations on your new home.

        We've no experience with the eradication of ticks so you'd have to try to find an environmentally conscious pest control company.

        The most effective and environmentally-friendly way to get rid of weeds is manual removal before they set seed. This will need to be done regularly as dormant seeds will start sprouting when you start clearing the area.

        There are several shade plants that you could consider:
        - Clivia miniata (Bush lily)
        - Plectranthus species (Spurflower). There are several varieties that offer varying heights from 0.2m to 4m.
        - Chlorophytum comosum (Hen-and-chickens)
        - Crassula expansa (Trailing crassula)
        - Asparagus densiflorus (Asparagus fern)


    10. Hi Glenice, thanks for useful site.
      I live near Magaliesberg mountain on rocky gound whose natural cover is veldgrass. I tried to keep our surroundings as natural as possible but veldfires quickly forced me to plant a more formal garden as a buffer near the house. I used Carpobrotus edulis (Sour fig) and Plectranthus neochilus (Lobster flower). I am so disappointed that they do not ever have more than a few flowers. Some are planted where they get watered more often and others not. All were planted with good compost but it does not seem to make any difference... They don't flower. I am green with envy when I go to Cape Town and see pavements covered in blue lobster flowers. I cannot use pelletized organic fertilizer as my dogs just eat it or if I bury it under some mulch they just dig up the plants to get it. Do you have any suggestions please? Thank you. Ruth

      1. Hi Ruth

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Plectranthus neochilus is one of those plants that thrives on minimal care and tends to grow best on the highveld when planted in sandy soil with no watering at all. Our summer rainfall is usually sufficient for them. In a garden setting it is commonly over-watered and the plant then grows long stems and produces few flowers.

        We've noticed similar with Carpobrotus edulis where the foliage even becomes a pale green and the plants tend to die back within 2-3 years.


    11. Thanks for these ideas. I need advice on landscaping 4 areas on a small holding. There are Arabs that I want covered in water-wise plants. I am contouring the areas to to create features on this flat landscape. Each area is demarcated and has a deciduous tree around it. So the summer with have semi shade and winter full sun.
      Please suggest a layout of plants I can use.

      1. Hi Shanaaz

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You're truly blessed to have a larger property with what sounds like endless possibilities.

        I'd recommend you contact a local landscaper for an on site consultation as your situation requires a complete assessment to determine what will work for your lifestyle and land.


    12. afternoon I was wondering if you could help?

      I need to find a plant that will grow fairly well and quick enough; the area is mostly dry and sandy while also being on a slope, the main reason for planting is to control water runoff down the slope and further soil erosion.

      thanks, your help is appreciated

      1. Hi Daniel

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Consider planting some indigenous grasses or a spreading groundcover such as:
        - Carpobrotus edulis (Sour fig)
        - Plectranthus neochilus (Lobster flower)


    13. Hi Glenice

      Thank you for all the valuable information!

      Would you be able to suggest a suitable plant for the following? I have an area in my very dry and sandy garden, that is at the back of our house (so doesn't see much sun) and is covered in pavers and stone.

      I'd like to remove the stones and plant something that will grow and spread easily amongst the pavers. (I have a small child and the stones are a choking hazard. Also, I'd like to her to grow up surrounded by beautiful plants instead of brick and cement!)

      I'd appreciate any suggestions. Many, many thanks!


      1. Hi Tracy

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You could try one of the following for your space:

        - Falkia repens (White carpet)
        - Ophiopogon japonicus 'Kyoto' (Dwarf mondo grass)
        - Mazus reptans (Creeping mazus)


    14. Hello,
      I stay in the Eastrand, Johannesburg and would like to know when should I plant my cannas bulbs that I have been storing in my garage and what position and conditions they would need in the garden to thrive?
      I also have a strip of empty land right against the boundary wall where weeds had taken over (Now all been dug out and its just bare hard soil) I don't think its get much sun. Would you please recommend what I could plant there for low maintenance and very budget friendly (it would be planted along the grass that is remaining)

      1. Hi Kim

        You can plant your cannas in spring in a position that has at least 5 hours of daily sunshine.
        For the bare area, consider the following:
        - Dietes grandiflora (Wild iris)
        - Crassula arborescens (Jade plant)


    15. Thanks, interesting and useful! Please could you advise as to which of the plants are locally indigenous to the Cape Peninsula ... we are trying to work towards that in our garden as we border a natual area. Also and especially what locally indigenous barrier plants would you recommend for planting for security purposes ... we want to replace exotic (and especially invaisve) ones like Agave, Eugenia, prickly pears, gums, and others.

      1. Hi Penelope

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        In order to determine what plants are locally indigenous to your area and suitable for your space, it may be best to consult with one or several of the following:
        - Your local nursery
        - A local nature reserve
        - A local landscaper

        All the best.

      1. Hi Povesh

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Tulbaghia violacaea (Wild garlic) is an excellent companion for roses as the scent helps deter aphids.

        Other possible options are:
        - Delospermum sp. (Vygies)
        - Scabiosa africana (Pincushion)
        - Sutera (Bacopa) cordata (Trailing phlox).


    16. What a wonderful site and thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have a spot under a yellow wood tree that I would like to plant up with indigenous bulbs and other plants. Currently I have clivias and Drimiopsis maculata. I really like scadoxus - they thrived for a while, but perhaps I did not water them enough. I leave the yellow wood leaves in the bed as they drop, as mulch. I am in Joburg.

      1. Hi Celia

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Here are some additional bulbs you could try:-

        - Velthemia bracteata (Forest lily)
        - Crinum species (River lily)
        - Haemanthus albiflos (White paintbrush)


    17. Hi Glenice
      Thanks for a great article!

      We are sprucing up our front garden here in Table View, Cape Town. I would so appreciate some advice.
      * the one bed under some windows gets no sun. What shrubs would be suitable that grow to about 1.5 metres?
      * the other bed is against a sunny boundary wall. What tall shrubs would be suitable to hide the wall and probably grow 2 metres at least, or a little more. The bed is 3.5 metres long. Also a small tree may be nice!
      * there is a smallish planter to the side of the front door that also gets no sun.

      Thanks so much for your kind assistance. It will be so nice to come home to a welcoming front garden 🙂

      Kind regards

      1. Hi Colleen

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Shrubs you could consider for the shade area are:
        - Plectranthus ecklonii (Forest spurflower)
        - Asystasia bella (was Mackaya bella) (Forest bells)

        Shrubs for the sunny area:
        - Freylinia tropica (Honeybells)
        - Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)
        - Diospyros whyteana (Bladdernut)


    18. Hello - we are renovating a property in the southern suburbs, Cape Town.
      Please advise a hardy, indigenous shrub for planting against the wall on the verge outside the property - the wall is south facing.

      1. Hi Anthea

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You've several options and can consider:
        - Plumbago auriculata (Cape leadwort)
        - Myrsine africana (Cape myrtle)
        - Mackaya bella (Forest bells)


    19. Good day, thank you for this article. Our garden has a lot of shade in summer, but during the winter, when the trees shed their leaves, the winter sun is too harsh for the clivias to survive. Please advise me on plants to replace the clivias. It has to be able to endure shade in summer and (sometimes very hot) sun in winter. Pretoria South Africa.

      1. Hi Tina

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        This is a challenging situation but there are some alternatives you could consider:

        - Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon bush)
        - Crocosmia aurea (Valentine flower)
        - Albuca nelsonii (Candelabrum lily)
        - Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii' (Asparagus fern)
        - Crassula multicava (Fairy crassula)


      2. I have a similar growing conditions in Westonaria Jhb. ---I have Bilbergia reptans ( a bromeliad) growing under a chinese elm tree and it does very well there - also they flower in July -August so there is a good show when other plants are drab. Hope this helps you. (they cope well even with the frost that we get and multiply rapidly)

    20. Hi.
      I am looking for some advice, we moved into a house with a very rocky and sandy garden in Cape Town. So far the only things i have been able to successfully grow in the garden is gooseberry, lavender, speck boom and a pincushion. I tried a few mints and wild basil but it did not take. Any advise on what water-wise hardy plants will take to this soil? Or something that can at least cover the ground (water wise). Thank you

      1. Hi William

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Your garden is a challenging site and may take a little experimenting. Start with the indigenous succulents such as:
        Aloe species and indigenous grasses naturally found in your area;
        Plectranthus neochilus (Lobster flower)
        Aptenia cordifolia (Aptenia)
        Gazania species (Cape daisy)
        Arctotis species (African daisy)
        Carpobrotus edulis (Sour fig)
        Bulbine frutescens (Stalked bulbine)

        Otherwise, your local nursery should be able to offer additional advice.


    21. Good day

      We are currently upgrading our front garden.

      There are various conifers that need to come out. Some are dead and others were not pruned by thr previous owner.
      I want to plant about three trees together which needs to provide shade in summer to sit under. It can be deciduous.
      I also look at trees to provide a screen which won't be to high.

      The area for the three trees is about 30m2 in a triangle shape. And the screen part is about 10m long.

      We are in Wellington and the soil is sandy with some clay and a rocky bottom.

      Any suggestions on indigenous small trees shall be appreciated.



      1. Hi Hein

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You could consider the following for your screening:

        - Apodytes dimidiata (White pear)
        - Ilex mitis (Cape holly)
        - Halleria lucida (Tree fuschia)


    22. Hi, I have a major issue getting anything to survive along my south facing wall as it’s sunny in summer and casts complete shade in winter, any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Wer

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You've a common issue and it's best solved by using plants that grow in semi-shade for forest margins.

        Without seeing the space, it's always difficult to understand the full extent of the issue and the size of the area.

        You'll need to research the full-grown size of the following plants and choose according to the space available:
        - Duvernoia aconitiflora (Lemon pistol bush)
        - Strelitzia reginae (Crane flower)
        - Metarungia longistrobus (Sunbird bush)
        - Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora (Purple bells)


        If space permits, you could also consider planting a suitably-sized deciduous tree so that the area will be permanently in shade. With a deciduous tree, you'll still have light and warmth in the area in winter. The area can then be planted up with shade loving plants such as:
        - Clivia miniata
        - Plectranthus species


    23. Good day Glenice,
      Thanks you for a interesting site.

      We live in Ballito kzn close to the coast. My kitchen looks out to a high retaining wall. I want to plant some plants in the wall as this is a feature when you come into the house you look directly on to this wall.

      Shade in morning and afternoon. During day full sun.

      Please advise on plants that I can consider. Almost want n green wall look?

      1. Hi Ronelle

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        You could consider the following plants for your retaining wall:
        - Aptenia cordifolia (Aptenia)
        - Plectranthus madagascariensis (Variegated Plectranthus)
        - Plectranthus ciliatus (Speckled spur-flower)
        - Gasteria species
        - Crassula multicava (Fairy Crassula)
        - Dyschoriste 'Nova' (Pink Dyschoriste)
        - Crassula spathulata (Spatula-leaf crassula)
        - Portulacaria afra prostrata (Dwarf elephant's foot)


    24. Hi Sandy , I’ll looking for a suitable plant in a container on a pool deck . Johannesburg kopje, south facing . extreme conditions , extremely windy , very hot in summer and very cold in winter
      Thanks Vanessa

      1. Hi Vanessa

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        Your selection of plant will depend on the space available as well as what you'd like to achieve such as:
        - A focal point (possibly an aloe or a plant with showy flowers)
        - Shade or screening (a small tree, but will require a fairly large pot)

        For extreme conditions, succulents are a good choice and there are a huge variety in differing heights and offer flowers and differing foliage colours.

        For plants less than 1m tall, you could consider Pelargoniums, Agapanthus, indigenous grasses such as Aristida junciformis,

        Possible shrubs to consider are:
        - Portulacaria afra (Spekboom)
        - Mimusops Zeyheri (Transvaal red milkwood)
        - Diospyros Whyteana (Bladdernut)
        - Gardenia Thunbergia (Wild Gardenia)
        - Coleonema pulchellum (Confetti bush)

        Small trees:
        - Dais cotinifolia (Pompon tree)
        - Xylotheca kraussian (African Dog-rose)
        - Mundulea sericea (Cork bush)
        - Dovyalis caffra (Kei apple)


    25. Hi, i need to start from scratch, dont know how to. Which plants are the best and dont need much water. Its Cape Town afterall. Please advise. Can you also advise on best landscapers which are not expensive

      1. Hi Bothasig

        Thanks for visiting our site.

        It's best to contact a landscaper who can assist you with a design for your space. This will help you to plan your purchases, take care of the soil preparation and project planning so you can avoid making costly mistakes. Search for professionals who service your area and meet with two or three to get a sense of the costs involved.


    26. Hi, will i be able to plant two different plants in the same spot?
      One that blooms in winter and the other in summer, or will they not grow like that?