Bringing kiwis home

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found a lot of plants here in New Zealand that I really like. I like seeing them grow in their home range, but I think it would be a shame if I never saw them again. They are too unusual to forget!

I’ve decided to try to grow some of the plants that I’ve seen here. Bringing back entire plants is unfortunately out of the question, so I’ll have to settle with seeds. Some NZ plants take a while to germinate, but that’s part of the fun. Some of them are commonly found in nurseries (Cordyline australis, I’m looking at you!) so I will probably end up picking a plant or two up as collateral damage by the end of next year.

In no particular order, here are some of the plants I will definitely by trying to germinate from seed.


Doryanthes palmeri, the giant Australian spear lily. I like this one so much, I gave it it’s very own post a while back.


Phormium tenax (NZ flax), arguably New Zealand’s most ubiquitous plant.
Just look at all those seeds. Surely there are a dozen or two that would sprout for me, right?


A lonely Rhopalostylis sapida (Nikau palm) stands out nicely against a dense planting of bamboo.
Nikaus are slow growing, so I don’t expect to have to replace my seed started palms for many years.


Metrosideros excelsa is affectionately known as the NZ Christmas tree, as it blooms right around that time of year. Easily developing aerial roots in the right conditions, I hope I can train my seedlings to grow in large pots. Full size trees may be a little big.


Pachystegia insignis (Marlborough rock daisy) is a woody evergreen shrub with daisy-like flowers and rhododendron-like leaves.
It is used in commercial landscaping frequently on the South Island, I assume because of it’s low water needs and perpetual good looks.


Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’ is another common landscape plant here.
Astelias can actually thrive as epiphytes, given the right conditions. A greenhouse, perhaps?


Clianthus puniceus is also known as Kakabeak. Apparently the flowers resemble the beak of the Kaka, one of New Zealand’s native parrots. Short lived and easy to germinate, I look forward to growing this floriferous and unusual member of the pea family.

I have no photo of my own of Hebe speciosa, which is interesting given how common it is here. It’s a nice plant, and it should grow well in my garden!


Banksia integrifolia is not native to New Zealand, but Australia. However it is a common plant here, and has extremely cool flowers and seed pods.
Banksia integrifolia
I think I am going to end up with a lot of big pots overflowing with large plants. I’ll call it my giant bonsai collection.


Like the hebe I mentioned earlier, Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka tea tree) is a plant that covers NZ so well that I have neglected to take any good photos of it. The fine foliage and evergreen nature of it make a nice contrast to the big leaves that define my garden.


Cyathea dealbata (Silver tree fern) is a charming, albeit huge, denizen of New Zealand’s wetter regions. It is very slow growing, and will probably always look like a regular fern in my garden.
The underside of each leaflet is covered with a bright, reflective silver sheen that is bright enough to see with moonlight. Seeing these fronds while walking down a trail at night is incredible!


kotukutuku tree fuchsia
Fuchsia excorticata (Tree fuchsia) is the world’s largest fuchsia. Eventually it reaches it’s twisted branches to 30 feet in the air, but I think I’ll be lucky to get 10 feet.

Most of these plants have ultimate sizes that will be much too big for my garden. Fortunately, I think it will take a long time for that to happen. In the meantime (if some of the seeds germinate) I’ll have quite a few new kinds of plants to enjoy. I’m going to have my hands full with all theses seeds when planting time arrives!

4 thoughts on “Bringing kiwis home

  1. Oh, there are so many Kiwis I’d love to see in cultivation… To my twisted mind, none is so prominent as the vining (as opposed to scrubby) form of Fuchsia perscandens… And then, of course, some of the Lobelia


      1. F. perscandens flowers from August to March, according to the monograph of the NZ species. It’s apparently widespread everywhere south of Auckland – to the north, F. procumbens takes over, but restricted to the beaches. That’s a plant well-established in PNW gardens that would be great to see in the wild!


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