Rukuhia Landscaping - What to plant on a dry bankHi everyone, we know everyone’s gardens are currently lacking moisture and some plants are looking rather poor for it.

Today I want to suggest some good performing shrubs and groundcovers that will perform in hot dry conditions, and even cope on quite a steep bank where its very shallow in topsoil and is rather dry for much of the year.

In the attached photo is a garden I helped out a local gardener with18 months ago. All of the plants are surviving exceptionally well and are looking rather healthy and vigorous. As you can appreciate, in the hottest months this bank gets super dry, and even in the winter there is no excess rainwater sitting around the root systems of the plants.

Plants that I personally recommend on a hot dry bank are:

GREVILLEA GAUDI CHAUDI - a vigorous groundcover with tinges of maroon in
the new foliage and a deep red flower over the winter months, a great weed
suppressor that will smother the bank and keep away most of the weeds. There are dozens of good performing grevilleas on the market that will perform well on a hot dry bank and this is the position where they are most at home.

CALLESTEMON LITTLEJOHN - a dwarf-growing bottlebrush that will also thrive on a hot dry bank - this variety has deep red bottlebrush type flowers and the birds and bees just love the nectar, certainly a great choice for the smaller garden/dry bank and certainly a very low maintenance shrub (with one light pruning required a year to keep it looking healthy and vigorous).

LEUCADENDRONS / PROTEAS - these are native to South Africa, and will naturally grow in poor well-drained soil, just like back in their place of origin. The great bonus is that they will provide flowers that can be picked and will last in a vase of water for many weeks. This family of plants is keenly sort after by people who love to do floral art. They come in a huge range of flower types and colours, and the bushes vary considerably in sizes they grow and growth habit.

We have quite a collection of different Leucadendrons species and proteas in our own garden and they are exceptionally easy care (we never watered them at all over the hot summer months and they all look so healthy and happy in their dry environment). From autumn right through to spring, my wife Val and I are able to go out and pick flowers for the home and there are always heaps to give away.

BESCHORNARIA REALITY- in the attached photo you will see a striking yellow/green striped plant on the bank. It’s definitely not flax, and it performs far better native N.Z. flax. This plant has a clumping habit, reaching about 1.0m high and about 1.2m wide. What I like about Reality is that its foliage stays exceptionally clean (free of spots and diseases) and its foliage doesn’t
revert and get lots of plain green leaves. I thoroughly recommend this plant; it’s a super performer for a hot dry bank or garden. After about 3 years in the garden, it matures and sends up a stunning flower stalk (about 1.5m tall) with a flamingo-coloured large flower head. No need to water this beauty over the summer, it can easily look after itself and will handle plenty of windy days with great ease.

AGAPANTHUS  TINKERBELL - a very good low growing perennial, this agapanthus has striking cream/green striped foliage. When mature, a deep blue flower appears above he foliage. I don’t mind that it’s generally a bit shy in it’s flowering because the foliage is stunning when planted on mass, exceptionally good at bringing a bit of brightness to a dull dark area of a garden, especially under trees or around the south side of the house. Don’t get me wrong; this plant will be just as happy in a garden border where it gets full day sun or in shade.

Soon it will be raining again, and if you are thinking of getting into your garden, then I regard March/April/May as some of the very best months of the year to plant because it’s warm and there is still good moisture on a regular basis - we hope!!!

Happy Gardening!


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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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