Why plant natives?

Plants along wall
Simple and beautiful: native plants bring benefits for all

Five great reasons to plant native species

Any native planting, from a balcony garden to a regenerating forest fragment, can bring you and the wildlife around you many benefits.

1. Enjoy easy, cheap and simple gardening

You’ll save time and money because locally native, eco-sourced plants are well adapted to the conditions, requiring less maintenance from you. They are drought-tolerant and need no added fertilisers or pesticides. Plus, native wildflowers are mainly perennials or self-sowing biennials, so they take care of the next year's planting themselves. 

2. Support local biodiversity

You’ll see more birds, reptiles and insects and you’ll help support their local populations, some of which are threatened. The best food and shelter for our native animals comes from native plants; they evolved together and have complementary relationships.

There are many species which can only be found in Wellington, a number of which need our support to survive. New Zealand has lost a regrettable number of unique species already, but you can help save others from going the same way by bringing a little eco-restoration in to your gardening.

Healthy gardens provide ‘stepping stones’ between larger forests. Birds use these stepping stones and so too our smaller wildlife and plants. Pollination and seed dispersal across different areas benefits biodiversity, improving our habitats’ natural defences.

The water in our streams, lakes and seas is cleaner and supports more biodiversity when filtered by suitable native plants. And of course, clean rivers are safer to drink from and swim in too.

Fantail
Fantail

3. Long-term stability and shelter

Indigenous plants stabilise your soil, providing long-term flood and erosion control - invaluable protection for the slopes and exposed coastline of Wellington.

Native plants provide excellent shelter, for you and your home as well as local wildlife. Coastal natives are well-adapted to Wellington’s winds.

4. Keep Wellington beautiful

Beautiful native gardens benefit Wellington’s regional identity and create a sense of place, for generations to come.

5. Connect with neighbours and inspire others

Once you get started with native planting you’ll want to share and expand your knowledge. Complimenting a neighbour on their joyful yellow kowhai tree could lead to a discussion on locally endemic species and maybe a new friendship.

You’re also welcome to join our volunteer outings to work in Miramar’s public spaces– a great way to meet new, like-minded people and explore new places. If you have children around why not explore the secret corners and creatures of your garden together?

Volunteer | Kids’ stuff

Exotic problems

Exotics can look attractive in your garden but beware.

  • Many exotic plants compete with natives, strangling them, adversely altering the soil and invading nearby bush and forest.
  • You’ll find many exotics are prone to rust and mould and generally demand more of your time and effort to maintain.
  • Exotics can also have unexpected effects on wildlife. For example, rhododendrons have nectar poisonous to native tui and silvereye and very often leads to death for these birds.
Rhododendron
Rhododendrons have nectar poisonous to native tui and silvereye and very often lead to death for these birds. Credit.

Some pest plants are still available for sale as they are not yet classified as weeds. They do however cause havoc when established in the wild. Although you can legally grow these species we strongly suggest you plant a non-weedy exotic species or local native plant. It’s so easy to do.

Good alternatives

If there’s a non-native you like the features of you can use the handy publication “Plant me instead” to find a native substitute.

Some exotic plants are considered non-invasive. For example, banksia and grevillea are not problem species and are both popular with nectar eating birds such as tui and bellbird. Colourful and aromatic exotics that won’t “jump the fence” include carnations, lavender and gardenia.

Don’t forget the weeds & pests

The aliens in your garden can contribute to the demise of native bush kilometres away. Weeding, especially being able to identify and remove the most invasive weeds, brings about significant, positive change in local habitats. Learn more about weeding.

When you see the many rare, native species living at Zealandia (Karori Sanctuary) in their mammal-free environment, you’ll notice the stark difference from the life Miramar currently supports. You could help reduce this difference and provide a safe habitat for rare species on the peninsula once more. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Learn more about pest control.