How to plant a Dry-tolerant Garden

14 Dec, 2020

With dry weather on the way, try planting a low-maintenance, dry-tolerant garden. From vibrant colour to statement structure, an easy-care garden can be functional and beautiful.

Starting with the Soil

Planting is a bit like building, you need a good foundation to build your garden, and the foundation is the soil. Most of Auckland’s soil is clay and needs a little work before planting, so introduce organic matter such as Kings Organic Compost, sheep pellets, leaf mould or well-rotted manure as well as ClayBreaker Gypsum. Condition the soil by mixing it in with the clay instead of just putting it on top. This will help retain moisture for longer, and encourage worms back into the area. Healthy soil means healthy plants!

If you are planting into pots, using Kings Container Mix or Tui Pot Power will hold the moisture in for longer, or try sprinkling some Saturaid on the garden/lawn as a moisture retainer.

Dry-tolerant Plants

Here are some suggestions of dry-tolerant plants to plant this summer:

Herbs and Edibles

Dry herbs enjoy full sun and can withstand heat: sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Tough edibles include natal plum, dragon fruit, grapes, chilean guava and artichoke.

Grasses and Native Plants

Native plants tend to do well in New Zealand’s climate: try astelia, carex, cordyline (cabbage trees), phormium (flax), pseudopanax, corokia, coprosma and hebe.

Trees and shrubs

Certain trees and shrubs can survive without being given water once they have become established (after around 2 years). Try olive trees, banksia, laurus nobilis (bay), albizzia and jacaranda. Proteas, manuka, leucadendrons, grevilleas and leptospermums are also fantastic dry-tolerant shrubs, however they are primarily available in winter.


Give your garden a point of difference by adding different varieties of cacti. Cacti are the perfect plant for dry tolerant gardens as they thrive in dry conditions, and prefer to grow in full sun.

Pots and Hanging Baskets

Try ice plants, chrysanthemum daisies, calendula, gazania, salvia, nasturtium, silver falls dichondra and livingstone daisies.

Lasting Colour for the Garden

Try planting petunia, lavender, euphorbias, echium, sedum, paper daisies, portulaca, convolvulous, and statice.

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