The best plants for…

ponds, wetlands & water features

water feature

An attractive, wildlife-friendly pond can be created at little cost. A water feature is eye-catching and will attract a greater variety of wildlife to your garden. Dragonflies and mayflies will provide food for fantails and kingfishers.

Miramar Peninsula once had a lake (or freshwater lagoon) covering about 86 hectares - much of the area around today’s Miramar shops. This lake was drained in 1847, together with the wetland, by European settlers.

Raised bird baths

Using a traditional birdbath on a pedestal works well, the bird can use it as a lookout for attacking cats. However, exposed pedestals suit only the bolder bird species - try placing the bath closer to shrubs and bushes so that shy species such as grey warblers can use it.

Ground level pond

Water at ground level gives a more natural and pleasing feeling. The best way to find inspiration for your pond is to visit nearby examples, Maupuia reserve has a couple of small streams flowing gently all year. Note how rocks and vegetation appear around the stream. A moulded fibreglass pond only needs setting into the ground, or if you want to create your own shape, you can use a plastic liner. Even concrete can work.

Create small hideouts for wildlife such as geckos and skinks with rocks and plants such as ferns or Muehlenbeckia.

Collect a small amount of water and bottom sediment such as a small rock and mud from a stream or pond and introduce this to your newly built pond. This will help your pond become self-sustaining, ecologically balanced with the right microorganisms. Remember to check with the land owner first.

If your garden or property has slopes you can create a stream or waterfall with a series of ponds between them using a small pump to circulate water. Just make sure the water runs over rocks, plastic or fibreglass to avoid erosion. Another simple approach is to drape a hose in a bush or tree, dripping a few drops slowly into the pond.

ground level pond

  • Shield at least half the pond from direct sunlight using overhanging plants such as tree ferns. Too much light can cause algae blooms which kill plants.
  • Clear an open approach on one side so bathing birds can escape when threatened.
  • The other side of the pond should have a dense vegetation habitat, either from trees or grass, tussocks or rushes growing in the boggy wetland next to the pond.
  • Provide a shallow area for bathing birds and other wildlife.
  • Add a deep layer of sand or bottom sediment and let occasional leaves and branches decompose in the water.
  • Remove too much fallen debris from shallow ponds but beware that too much cleaning will disturb bottom sediments and unsettle the natural balance.

Wetland areas

In nature, ponds, swamps and boggy areas act as bio-filters, improving water quality by removing sediments and excess nutrients as well as providing for a unique range of plants, birds and other important animals.

Pick a site for your mini swamp and remember it can never be too big. Dig a hole at least 2 meters square and line it with a plastic sheet. Glue any joints or overlapping edges to reduce leaking, and then refill the hole with soil. Ideally, let the swamp wetland overflow to your pond. Vice-versa can also work, or a dripping hose - use roof rainwater primarily, and tap water during low rain, or simply refill the pond and wetland once a week or so during summer.

Mini wetland

Plants for ponds and wetlands

Trees

Big (b) >15m, Medium (m) 10-15m, Small (s) <10m

  • Black maire / Nestegis cunninghamii , (b)
    A once common species, the handsome black maire should to be more widely grown as it makes an…
  • Cabbage tree / Cordyline australis , (m) Pioneer
    Early European explorers of New Zealand described "jungles of cabbage trees" along the banks of streams and rivers,…
  • Coastal tree dasiy / Olearia solandri , (s) Pioneer
    Perfect for a coastal garden! Named after the Swedish naturalist Daniel Carlsson Solander and an apostle of Carl…
  • Coprosma grandifolia / Coprosma grandifolia , (s)
    Easily recognized by its very large, broad laves hence the name scientific name C grandiflora. Usually regarded as…
  • Five-finger / Pseudopanax arboreus , (m) Pioneer
    A fast growing small tree well known for its luxuriant growth and purple fruit in large obvious clusters from…
  • Hangehange / Geniostoma ligustrifolium , (s)
    Well known for its sweet fragrance during flowering in late spring from small green white flowers. Hangehange is…
  • Hinau / Elaeocarpus dentatus , (b)
    A grand canopy tree up to 15-20 metres tall or less, with a broad spreading crown and broad grey…
  • Kahikatea / Dacrycarpus dacrydioides , (b)
    A very popular garden tree. Handsome, tall and erect, the kahikatea is one of New Zealands tallest trees.…
  • Kaikomako / Pennantia corymbosa , (s)
    Meaning "Food for the korimako" the bellbird, this small attractive tree starts as a juvenile dense tangled shrub…
  • Kanuka / Kunzea sp. , (b) Pioneer
    The common kanuka, not yet botanically named is very similar to the more shortlived manuka. Earlier placed together…
  • Karamu / Coprosma robusta , (s) Pioneer
    One of our best known coprosma species and also one of the best species for establising shelter or…
  • Kawakawa / Macropiper excelsum , (s) Pioneer
    Probably one of our most well known plants. Big heart shapes fleshy leaves and fruit favourited by many…
  • Kohekohe / Dysoxylum spectabile , (m)
    Kohekohe is one of the most handsome of our coastal trees that was once very common. Easy to…
  • Koromiko / Hebe stricta , (s) Pioneer
    A common bushy shrub with narrow pointed leaves up to 4 meters tall, but often less. Its white…
  • Makomako / Aristotelia serrata , (s) Pioneer
    A multi branched fast growing tree with thin, heart-shaped serrated leaves. The leaves have light green upper surface,…
  • Mamaku / Cyathea medullaris , (b) Pioneer
    Our tallest and one of our most luxuriant tree ferns with a slender, long black trunk covered with…
  • Manuka / Leptospermum scoparium , (m)
    Manuka is probably the best known New Zealand tree due to all its different uses. From honey to…
  • Mapou / Myrsine australis , (s) Pioneer
    A handsome small tree with bright red twigs and grey trunk and branches in older individuals, bearing wavy…
  • Matai / Prumnopitys taxifolia , (b)
    A very popular garden tree due to its divaricating juvenile growth, a potential moa browsing defense. This stage…
  • Mikimiki / Coprosma linariifolia , (s)
     A tall shrub or small tree up to 8 metre. Coprosma linarifolia has very modest flowers and long…
  • Miro / Prumnopitys ferruginea , (b)
    A very beautiful tree which should be more widely grown. Miro grows up to 25 metres tall with…
  • Ngaio / Myoporum laetum , (s) Pioneer
    A beautiful, fast growing coastal tree, with a rough, furrowed grey trunk, often in old age becoming, gnarled…
  • Nikau / Rhopalostylis sapida , (s)
    New Zealands only native palm and one of our best known iconic species. This attractive palm, should be…
  • Pate / Schefflera digitata , (s)
    Patē or also known as sevenfinger, resembles the psudopanax species five-finger, but it has thinner leaves consisting of…
  • Pigeonwood / Hedycarya arborea , (s)
    An attractive small tree with a dark brown or grey and smooth bark, growing between 5 to 12…
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium / Pittosporum tenuifolium , (m)
  • Pukatea / Laurelia novae-zelandiae , (b)
  • Swamp maire / Syzygium maire , (m)
    An attractive tree now often scarce or absent over large parts of its former range due to the…
  • Tarata / Pittosporum eugenioides , (m) Pioneer
    This attractive and well known tree is well marked from all other indigenous and exotic Pittosporums, by the…
  • Tree fuchsia / Fuchsia excorticata , (m)
    The worlds largest fuchsia! Great for attracting nectar-feeding birds like tui and bellbird, while fruit attracts birds like…
  • Tutu / Coriaria arborea , (s)
    Tutu is a many-stemmed shrub or small tree where all parts of the plant, with the exception of…

Shrubs

  • Coastal tree dasiy / Olearia solandri , (s) Pioneer
    Perfect for a coastal garden! Named after the Swedish naturalist Daniel Carlsson Solander and an apostle of Carl…
  • Coprosma grandifolia / Coprosma grandifolia , (s)
    Easily recognized by its very large, broad laves hence the name scientific name C grandiflora. Usually regarded as…
  • Karamu / Coprosma robusta , (s) Pioneer
    One of our best known coprosma species and also one of the best species for establising shelter or…
  • Kawakawa / Macropiper excelsum , (s) Pioneer
    Probably one of our most well known plants. Big heart shapes fleshy leaves and fruit favourited by many…
  • Koromiko / Hebe stricta , (s) Pioneer
    A common bushy shrub with narrow pointed leaves up to 4 meters tall, but often less. Its white…
  • Manuka / Leptospermum scoparium , (m)
    Manuka is probably the best known New Zealand tree due to all its different uses. From honey to…
  • Mikimiki / Coprosma linariifolia , (s)
     A tall shrub or small tree up to 8 metre. Coprosma linarifolia has very modest flowers and long…
  • Mingimingi / Coprosma propinqua , (s) Pioneer
    A great small leaved divaricating bushy shrub for open exposed seaside propertys and coastal forest gardens with dense…
  • NZ daphne / Pimelea prostrata Pioneer
    True coastal low growing plant that can grow in most situations, but prefers a well drained soil. With…
  • Poroporo / Solanum laciniatum, S. aviculare , (s) Pioneer
    Commonly regarded as a weed, and offten confused with the now much less common and "At Risk" species…
  • Rangiora / Brachyglottis repanda
  • Salt marsh ribbonwood / Plagianthus divaricatus
  • Tutu / Coriaria arborea , (s)
    Tutu is a many-stemmed shrub or small tree where all parts of the plant, with the exception of…

Climbers & scramblers

  • Bush lawyer / Rubus australis, R. cissoides Pioneer
    A vigorous and prickly vine, so strong that it could possibly hold the large moa, which the maori…
  • Forster’s Clematis / Clematis forsteri
    Variable evergreen woody climber; stems to 5 m long, however more often in a compacted clump of vines.…
  • Native passionfruit / Passiflora tetrandra
    Climbing plants such as native passionfruit can create a forest feeling and add flowers and scent too. Our native passion…
  • NZ jasmine / Parsonsia heterophylla, P. capsularis
    Climbing plants such as native jasmin can create a forest feeling and add flowers and scent too.
  • Pohuehue / Muehlenbeckia complexa Pioneer
    One of the best and most attractive coastal groundcover that grows into a tangled mass of brown wiry…
  • Supplejack / Ripogonum scandens
    A weird and wonderful plant, this woody vine might not be to familiar to gardeners, perhaps due to…
  • White clematis / Clematis paniculata
    Probably our most attractive and best known native clematis. With its climbing habit, puawananga can grow to up…

Ferns

  • Gully fern / Pneumatopteris pennigera
    An attractive fern with long fronds often found growing ins shady areas along streams, ponds and gullies. The…
  • Hen and chicken fern / Asplenium bulbiferum
    One of our most popular native ferns long, green graceful, delicate fronds are easily recognizable by the small "chickens"…
  • Kiokio / Blechnum novae-zelandiae Pioneer
     The beautiful Kiokio is hardy species of fern. They are often be found growing in clay soil, on…
  • Maidenhair fern / Adiantum cunninghamii
    A beautiful small native fern commonly throughout in lowland and coastal forest. Often seen on banks, cliff faces…
  • Mamaku / Cyathea medullaris , (b) Pioneer
    Our tallest and one of our most luxuriant tree ferns with a slender, long black trunk covered with…
  • Prince of Wales fern / Leptopteris superba
  • Single crepe fern / Leptopteris hymenophylloides
    A small native fern found though out the country.  Often encountered under forest canopy, especially on damp banks…
  • Soft tree fern / Cyathea smithii , (s)
    The masses of very soft and delicate looking fronds which spread horizontally from the crown and reach 2…
  • Swamp kiokio / Blechnum minus Pioneer
    The beautiful Kiokio is hardy species of fern. Much similar to the larger B. novae-zelandiae. They are often…
  • wheki-ponga / Dicksonia fibrosa , (s)
    Wheki-ponga is a attractive slow growing, very hardy tree fern which will reach up to 10m in height (although…

Grasses, sedges & rushes

  • Bog rush / Schoenus pauciflorus Pioneer
     A Rush-like sedge growing up to a 1 m tall with rather variable coloration and stature, ranging from…
  • Carex secta / Carex secta Pioneer
    A large beautiful tussuck forming sedge. Older individuals located in moist to wet soils, often form thick trunk-like…
  • Dianella nigra / Dianella nigra Pioneer
    Bright iridescent blue berries in summer, this small evergreen flax like plant works well in most situations and…
  • Giant umbrella sedge / Cyperus ustulatus Pioneer
    This tall attractive wetland species of sedge is tolerant of a wide range of habitats and conditions but …
  • Jointed wire rush / Apodasmia similis Pioneer
    A popular reed with a fine grey-green leaves with a distinctive beautiful orange-brown tinge to the vegetation, forming…
  • Juncus pallidus / Juncus pallidus
    A elegant spiky, robust, tall rush forming dense patches up to 2 metre tall. Dark green and fine…
  • Knobby club rush / Ficinia nodosa
    Beautiful and stylish, Wiwi is a great plant for open situations - often planted in sandy areas, sand dunes,…
  • Lake club rush / Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani Pioneer
    This ornamental sedge is often sold as a plant for water gardens and ponds. Growing in wet conditions…
  • Red tussock / Chionochloa rubra
  • Remuremu / Selliera radicans Pioneer
  • Sea rush / Juncus kraussii
  • Swamp sedge / Carex virgata Pioneer
    A vigorous handsome bright green tussock 50-100 cm wide for wet parts of the garden or along a…
  • Three square sedge / Schoenoplectus pungens Pioneer
    A long-lived summergreen sedge growing up to 1.5 m tall, most often seen in coastal wetlands, as it…
  • Toetoe / Austroderia toetoe Pioneer
    Previously known as Cortaderia toe toe, this species has recently changed its genus name. This toetoe is confined…

Other plants

  • Collospermum / Collospermum hastatum Pioneer
    The largest and most magnificent of our native epiphytic plants. Often seen on large trees, but can also grow…
  • Cudweed / Anaphalioides trinervis
    This litlle cute species in the daisy family is often found along streams and waterfalls. It is fastgrowing…
  • Dianella nigra / Dianella nigra Pioneer
    Bright iridescent blue berries in summer, this small evergreen flax like plant works well in most situations and…
  • Knobby club rush / Ficinia nodosa
    Beautiful and stylish, Wiwi is a great plant for open situations - often planted in sandy areas, sand dunes,…
  • Raupo / Typha orientalis
  • Remuremu / Selliera radicans Pioneer
  • Swamp flax / Phormium tenax Pioneer
    A robust and well known plant in gardens with its long sword-shaped leaves up to 2 metre tall…