Savvy Plants

Folks say that one should go the local route, and although it is true that there is no region in this country that does not have its own endemic plants, the question arises whether they are easy to find in a local nursery.

Here is a selection of plants for a medium-to-low watering zone, which can be called upon to be your garden’s guardian angels due to their resilience against heat, wind, pests and disease. You can plant them for their looks too.

1. Artemisia Afra repels insects like mosquitoes, flies and worms, and keeps dogs away if planted as a protective border. When pruning back is needed, use the cut-offs as an excellent, organic and insect-repellent mulch.

2. Tulbaghia Violacea, the pungent-smelling wild garlic, repels various insects, moles (and apparently even snakes!), and has pretty purple flowers in summer that attract pollinators. It is perfect as a gap filler or for mass planting as a border.

3. Tecoma Capensis ‘Pink Blush’ has beautiful soft, pink flowers on tall, glossy-leaved shrubs. It’s an excellent choice for a hedge, or interplanted with plumbago, and is loved by birds.

4. Salvia Chamelaeagnea ‘White’ is a tall, striking shrub with pure white plumes of flowers. It’s good for coastal conditions in full sun, requires little attention and is quite drought tolerant, but will thrive with regular watering and feeding. Interplant with S. Chamelaeagnea ‘Blue’ and cut both back hard in winter. Both are loved by butterflies.

5. Leonotis Ocymifolia has striking orange flower spikes on compact plants. Fast growing and very tough in harsh coastal conditions, it needs to be pruned hard after flowering. It is irresistible to sunbirds.

6. Plumbago Auriculata ‘White’ is hardy to coastal conditions, with lovely pure white flowers. It grows up to 1.5m tall and is a perfect hedging subject, as it is very drought tolerant and responsive to pruning.

7. Lobelia Valida is a perfect short-lived perennial for sun or light shade, with intense blue flowers. Although drought hardy, it responds well to regular watering, feeding and trimming to encourage more flowers.

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