Water-wise plants for your garden

Many South African gardens contain exotic species that originate from regions with far higher rainfall than occurs here. As a result, gardeners have to water them frequently. The answer? Beautiful indigenous plants.

Water-wise plants for your garden
Aptenia cordifolia spreads rapidly and can help cover an area quickly.
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Here are eight indigenous plants that are worth considering when changing your ‘thirsty’ garden into a water-wise, wildlife haven:

Aptenia cordifolia (baby sun rose, red aptenia)
This beautiful succulent ground cover 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 spreads rapidly, helping to cover an area in a short period. It can be used to stabilise soil in areas that may be susceptible to run-off or erosion, or as a lawn replacement for difficult-to-reach areas.

Tulbaghia violacea (wild garlic)
One of the hardiest species on the list, this has become highly popular with gardeners and landscape architects across South Africa. 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.

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Agapanthus praecox (blue lily)
The beautiful blue or white blooms during the summer flowering season help to liven up an otherwise dull area of the garden.

Plectranthus neochilus (smelly coleus, lobster flower)
This aromatic succulent perennial is ideal for a rockery or retaining wall, where it will hold a neat shape and provide a striking colour contrast with its greyish-green foliage.
Purple-blue lobster-shaped flowers add to its appeal. It is hardy and water-wise, and care should be taken not to over-water it; this can result in the plant becoming ‘leggy’ and losing its neat shape.

Strelitzia reginae (crane flower, bird of paradise)
Strelitzia reginae, one of South Africa’s favourite exports, is cultivated worldwide; it has even become the official flower of Los Angeles! Once established, the plant can withstand long, dry spells and a fair amount of neglect. It can grow in both sun and shade, and provides a beautiful structural display when in flower.

Dymondia margaretae (carpet daisy, vlei daisy)
D. margaretae is a very low-growing ground cover, 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 yellow, daisy-like flowers stand out in start contrast to the grey-green foliage.

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. An excellent species for the water-conscious gardener.

Drimiopsis maculata (leopard lily)
A deciduous bulb, the leopard lily makes a highly effective ground cover if mass-planted. It prefers semi-shade conditions, but will survive in sunny areas and can handle a fair amount of neglect. It has beautiful spotted leaves (hence the common name) and produces tiny white flowers on long stalks that are pollinated by moths at night.

Bulbine spp
These clump-forming ground covers have tubular, succulent green leaves, giving them a grass-like appearance. They spread quickly, producing star-shaped yellow or orange flowers on tall spikes. They can be mass-planted for a border, or added to a verge to cover bare patches of soil.

Source: Top 15 water-wise plants for your garden.