The best plants for…

small gardens & balconies

potted plants

If you live in a block of flats or have a small concrete patio you can still grow native plants and attract native wildlife. Any size of garden strengthens the green corridor between nearby reserves.

With plants that work well in pots or containers you can attract both tui and silvereye, also if geckos have access they will lick sweet nectar from flowers at night. A window box with a good selection of plants and in good soil will be attractive to birds, butterflies and geckos. A small bird bath can also be installed.

A balcony is similar to the canopy of a large tree: a garden in the sky. Areas like this dry out quickly, to cope with this several species have fat, juicy leaves or have overlapping leaves. Use hard, tolerant epiphytic species.

It’s important to use a good potting mix. In time, plants may need repotting when showing signs of deterioration.

Plants for small gardens & balconies

Trees

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

  • Broadleaf / Griselinia littoralis, G. lucida , (m)
    Probably one of our most planted natives. There are two species of the broadleaf griselinia in New Zealand.…
  • Cabbage tree / Cordyline australis , (m) Pioneer
    Early European explorers of New Zealand described "jungles of cabbage trees" along the banks of streams and rivers,…
  • 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…
  • Kaikomako / Pennantia corymbosa , (s)
    Meaning "Food for the korimako" the bellbird, this small attractive tree starts as a juvenile dense tangled shrub…
  • 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…
  • Lancewood / Pseudopanax crassifolius , (m) Pioneer
    lancewood is one of the oddities in New Zealand’s forest. The explanation to its oddities can be explained…
  • Makomako / Aristotelia serrata , (s) Pioneer
    A multi branched fast growing tree with thin, heart-shaped serrated leaves. The leaves have light green upper surface,…
  • 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…
  • Nikau / Rhopalostylis sapida , (s)
    New Zealands only native palm and one of our best known iconic species. This attractive palm, should be…
  • Pigeonwood / Hedycarya arborea , (s)
    An attractive small tree with a dark brown or grey and smooth bark, growing between 5 to 12…
  • Taupata / Coprosma repens , (s) Pioneer
    A distinctive, common coastal species easily recognised by the very glossy, dark or lime green, broadly oblong to…
  • Wharangi / Melicope ternata , (s) Pioneer
    A stunningly lime green small coastal tree, growing up to 5 metre tall. The two species of Melicope…

Shrubs

  • Broadleaf / Griselinia littoralis, G. lucida , (m)
    Probably one of our most planted natives. There are two species of the broadleaf griselinia in New Zealand.…
  • Cook Strait kowhai / Sophora molloyi , (s) Pioneer
    With its current conservation status, At Risk - Naturally Uncommon, the Cook Strait Kowhai is only found around…
  • Coprosma crassifolia / Coprosma crassifolia , (s) Pioneer
    An excellent coastal plant providing a tough shelter and great for dry, rocky and expsoed locations. Providing good food…
  • 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…
  • Matagouri / Discaria toumatou , (s) Pioneer
    Very uncommon in the North Island, but an excellent drought-tolerant hedge plant. A slowgrowing thorny bush or small tree…
  • Melicytus obovatus / Melicytus obovatus , (s) Pioneer
    The notable Melicytus obovatus is an endemic evergreen plant to Wellington and Cook strait regarded as; At Risk…
  • 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…
  • Shrubby tororaro / Muehlenbeckia astonii Pioneer
    With small bright green heart shaped leaves and with tangled zig-zagging branches this rare shrub makes an interesting…
  • Taupata / Coprosma repens , (s) Pioneer
    A distinctive, common coastal species easily recognised by the very glossy, dark or lime green, broadly oblong to…
  • Thick-leaved mahoe / Melicytus crassifolius , (s) Pioneer
    An attractive dark green compact hardy shrub with grey speckled branches. This endemic species has a somewhat restricted…
  • White rata / Metrosideros perforata
    The White rata or Akatorotoro as its is also commonly known as is a climber growing up 15 m high…

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…
  • Clematis foetida / Clematis foetida Pioneer
  • Climbing rata / Metrosideros fulgens
    Climbing plants such as the noble climbing rata creates a forest feeling. A scrambling and clinging habit with…
  • 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…
  • Shore convolvulus / Calystegia soldanella Pioneer
    An attractive ground covering plant for a difficult, dry, sunny or exposed spot. With trumpet like pink and…
  • White clematis / Clematis paniculata
    Probably our most attractive and best known native clematis. With its climbing habit, puawananga can grow to up…
  • White rata / Metrosideros perforata
    The White rata or Akatorotoro as its is also commonly known as is a climber growing up 15 m high…

Ferns

  • 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"…
  • Hound’s tongue / Microsorum pustulatum Pioneer
    A beautiful ground covering fern with glossy, bright, green fronds that vary in size and sometimes shape that…
  • Maidenhair fern / Adiantum cunninghamii
    A beautiful small native fern commonly throughout in lowland and coastal forest. Often seen on banks, cliff faces…
  • Necklace fern / Asplenium flabellifolium
    A pretty little fern, easily grown in gardens in sheltered areas. A small and attractive with fronds between…
  • Soft tree fern / Cyathea smithii , (s)
    The masses of very soft and delicate looking fronds which spread horizontally from the crown and reach 2…
  • Sweet fern / Pteris macilenta
    A often coastal endemic to NZ vigorous growing fern, often colonises under decks, dry rockeries, cliff faces or…
  • 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

  • Astelia / Astelia fragrans, A. solandri
    Astelia is a flax-lookalike. It prefers good drainage and to be kept a bit dry. Often found in forested areas…
  • 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…
  • Glen Murray tussock / Carex flagellifera Pioneer
    This attractive and hardy evergreen tussock, forms a clump of narrowly linear, reddish-brown leaves, with light brown flower…
  • Hard tussock / Festuca novae-zelandiae
    A hardy tussock forming grass with a stiff. erect habit growing up to 40 cm tall and wide.…
  • 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,…
  • Remuremu / Selliera radicans Pioneer
  • Scleranthus / Scleranthus biflorus Pioneer
  • Silver tussock / Poa cita Pioneer
    Of our native Poa species, the silver tussock is the most commonly planted one - due to its…
  • Silvery sand grass / Spinifex sericeus
  • Spinifex / Spinifex sericeus
    The attractive Spinifex sericeus, or often just called spinifex, is the most important native sand-binding grass species in…
  • Swamp sedge / Carex virgata Pioneer
    A vigorous handsome bright green tussock 50-100 cm wide for wet parts of the garden or along a…

Other plants

  • Astelia / Astelia fragrans, A. solandri
    Astelia is a flax-lookalike. It prefers good drainage and to be kept a bit dry. Often found in forested areas…
  • Collospermum / Collospermum hastatum Pioneer
    The largest and most magnificent of our native epiphytic plants. Often seen on large trees, but can also grow…
  • 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,…
  • Linum monogynum / Linum monogynum Pioneer
    Low-growing coastal shrub with pretty white flowers. Easy plant to grow, but requires some thought in its placement,…
  • Mountain flax / Phormium cookianum Pioneer
    One of our two iconic flax species. The mountain or costal flax is often found on coastal cliff…
  • Remuremu / Selliera radicans Pioneer
  • Rengarenga / Arthropodium cirratum
    Rengarenga is a hardy plant with white flowers that will grow in either full sun or dense shade,…
  • Scleranthus / Scleranthus biflorus Pioneer
  • Shore convolvulus / Calystegia soldanella Pioneer
    An attractive ground covering plant for a difficult, dry, sunny or exposed spot. With trumpet like pink and…
  • Shore groundsel / Senecio lautus Pioneer
    A cute compact little endemic annual plant that often found growing on rocks, beaches, and gravel often close…
  • Shore spurge / Euphorbia glauca Pioneer
    Waiu-atua or shore spurge is the sole native representative of a very large genus that is found in…
  • Swamp flax / Phormium tenax Pioneer
    A robust and well known plant in gardens with its long sword-shaped leaves up to 2 metre tall…