November 13 2023 0Comment
Low Maintenance Plants New Zealand

Low Maintenance Plants New Zealand

Are you in search of plants that can thrive with minimal care, yet add a touch of greenery and beauty to your garden or landscape?

Whether you’re a seasoned home gardener or a professional landscape expert, low maintenance plants can be a game-changer. They save time, require less effort, and are often more resilient to changing weather conditions and pests.

But what exactly makes a plant low maintenance?

In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of low maintenance plants in New Zealand, exploring what makes them easy to care for, and showcasing some of the best options available. We’ll share both New Zealand native plants and exotic plants that have been bred for superior performance in NZ urban landscapes

  1. This low maintenance garden showcases the mighty NZ flax in Bernie Spain Gardens in the UK.
low maintenance plants

What Makes a Plant Low-Maintenance?

A low-maintenance plant is one that requires less care and attention compared to other plants. Quite a few factors contribute to this:

  1. Resistance to Pests and Diseases: These plants are typically hardier and less susceptible to common pests and diseases.
  2. Minimal Watering Needs: They can survive and thrive without frequent watering, making them perfect for drought-prone areas or busy gardeners.
  3. Slow Growth Rate: Slow-growing plants generally require less pruning and trimming.
  4. Tolerance to Various Soil Types: These plants can grow in different types of soil, eliminating the need for frequent soil amendments.
  5. Non-Invasive Roots: Look, all roots are “adventitious” (meaning they seek the path of least resistance and highest return on investment), which means they can potentially become “invasive,” low-maintenance plants are usually less likely to damage other plants or structures.
  6. Low Fertiliser Requirements: They can thrive without the need for frequent fertilisation.
  7. Resilient in Varying Weather Conditions: These plants can withstand different weather conditions, from extreme heat to frost.

It’s important to note that while a plant might have several of these characteristics, it might not have all. Therefore, when choosing low-maintenance plants, consider your specific garden conditions and maintenance preferences.

Best Low-Maintenance Ground Covers in New Zealand

Ground covers are an excellent addition to any garden or landscape. They add visual interest, help prevent soil erosion, and can even suppress weeds. When it comes to low-maintenance options, there are a few standout choices suitable for New Zealand’s conditions.

Evergreen Baby™ Lomandra longifolia subsp. exilis ‘LM600’ PVR

Evergreen Baby™ Lomandra is a compact, fine-leafed lomandra that remains evergreen in most situations. It’s highly drought tolerant and requires little maintenance once established. It’s perfect for mass planting, borders, or as a container specimen.

2. Use this versatile lomandra as a ground cover, a border plant, or put it in a pot as a feature.

Low Maintenance Plants New Zealand

Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari is a versatile, compact plant that forms neat, dense clumps of dark green leaf blades. It’s incredibly hardy and can withstand a variety of conditions, including dry shade and frost. It’s also resistant to pests and diseases.

Leptinella dioica

Leptinella dioica, or Bachelor’s Buttons, is a native New Zealand ground cover that forms a dense mat of fern-like foliage. It’s hardy, fast-growing, and thrives in both sun and semi-shade. It also produces small, button-like flowers in spring, adding a touch of colour to your garden.

Best Low-Maintenance Shrubs and Hedges in New Zealand

Shrubs and hedges provide structure, create privacy, and can even act as windbreaks or noise barriers. Moreover, they add texture and interest to your garden throughout the year. When it comes to low-maintenance options, there are a range of suitable plants that require minimal care, yet make a big impact.

Westringia ‘WES04’ PVR

Westringia is a robust plant that provides great year-round looks with its grey foliage and small white flowers. It’s an excellent choice for hedging and borders, thanks to its compact size and shape. This plant is also highly drought-tolerant and requires minimal maintenance once established. It prefers full sun to light shade and can withstand coastal conditions, making it an ideal choice for various landscapes.

Raphiolepis indica ‘RAPH01’ PVR

This is a tough, high-performing shrub with large, glossy green leaves and an abundance of white flowers from late winter to spring. It’s perfect for hedging, as a specimen plant, or in large containers. It’s incredibly hardy and can withstand hot dry winds, light frost, and coastal conditions. It’s also resistant to pests and diseases, further enhancing its low-maintenance appeal.

Coprosma robusta

Coprosma robusta, commonly known as Karamu, is a native New Zealand shrub that’s both beautiful and resilient. It features glossy green leaves and produces orange berries that attract birds. Karamu is an excellent choice for hedging or as a standalone shrub. It can adapt to a wide range of soil types and prefers full sun to semi-shade. Plus, it’s resistant to most pests and diseases, making it a fantastic low-maintenance option.

Best Low-Maintenance Strappy Plants in New Zealand

Strappy plants, with their distinctive long, thin leaves, are a popular choice for many gardeners. They offer architectural interest, are often drought-tolerant and good for erosion control. We’ve already mentioned a liriope and a lomandra above which are great strappy plants for ground cover, but here are a couple more strappy plants.

Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’ PVR

Lomandra longifolia is a hardy, evergreen plant with bright green, fine leaf foliage. Its ability to withstand a wide range of conditions, from extreme heat to frost, and even coastal conditions, makes it a truly low-maintenance plant. Ideal for mass planting, borders, or containers, it’s a versatile Aussie native addition to any New Zealand garden.

Dianella revoluta ‘DTN03’ PVR

Dianella revoluta is a small, clumping strappy Aussie native plant with striking blue-green foliage. It’s highly resistant to disease, tolerates frost, heat, and drought, and requires little to no pruning. With its beautiful, delicate flowers and vibrant berries, it adds a touch of elegance to your garden design.

Best Low-Maintenance Native New Zealand Plants

Embracing native plants not only fosters national pride but also supports local biodiversity.

However, keep in mind that while it’s true that certain animals may have preferences for native plants, healthy exotic plants can provide similar benefits for native NZ fauna, offering habitat and food resources. So don’t cross off exotics just because you’re trying to provide ecological services!

When selecting native plants, care should be taken to avoid those with high amounts of virile pollen, as this can alter wild population genetics through pollination.

We’ve already discussed several low-maintenance native NZ plants above, but let’s explore a couple more.

Phormium tenax ‘PHOS2’ PVR

This is a compact Phormium cultivar with arching, reddish-bronze foliage. It’s incredibly hardy, tolerating a wide range of conditions, and requires minimal maintenance. Its vibrant colour and unique form make it an excellent choice for adding a touch of drama to your garden.

3. Chuck a few strappy plants, like Sweet Mist Phormium, below a tree and then relax with a nice, cold beverage. Job well done.

Sweet Mist Phormium

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Pittosporum tenuifolium, commonly known as Kohuhu or Black Matipo, is a native NZ plant known for its beautiful, dark foliage and distinctive black seed capsules. It’s resilient, adaptable, and requires little care, making it an ideal low-maintenance plant for hedges or standalone features.


Choosing low-maintenance plants doesn’t mean compromising on beauty or interest in your garden. Whether you opt for ground covers, shrubs, strappy plants, or native species, there are plenty of options that require minimal care yet offer maximum impact.

I hope this guide inspires you to integrate these resilient, easy-care plants into your garden, creating a space that’s not only beautiful but also sustainable and easy to manage.


What are some good drought tolerant plants?

A lot of Aussie natives such as callistemons, westringias, lomandras, and dianellas are particularly drought tolerant.

Can a low maintenance garden still be beautiful?

Absolutely! Anybody who tells you that low maintenance gardens can’t be beautiful doesn’t know what they’re talking about.