Waterwise landscapes: The best plants for a South African garden

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Waterwise landscapes: The best plants for a South African garden

There has never been a better time in South Africa to implement water-wise landscaping, not only to decrease water consumption but also to keep our premises in a good state, visually. Drought should not mean your property should devalue, in fact, by implementing strategies that help you to get through this dry period, you are actually setting your premises up to run at lower costs forever. Sound good? You can start by choosing the right plants.

Water-wise plants have stems that are quite firm, supporting the plant and leaves regardless of the amount of water that it contains, preventing the obvious droop of wilting. You can learn to recognize the species of plants that have adapted to dry conditions by identifying the characteristics that protect them. Namely, these include: Smaller leaves, leaves with hairs on, spikes, tough, woody internal structures, succulent leaves and stems, and grey/silver coloured foliage. Here are a few examples of tough, drought-resistant plants.

Bearded Irises

These beauties come in a wide variety of colours, which makes sense considering Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow! These bulbous plants are evergreen perennials, meaning while they only flower during the warmer months, they give you a vibrant look all year with their long leaves. Incredibly, these pretties are able to withstand tough drought conditions, they thrive in full sun or light afternoon shade, and handle frost fairly well too. Not bad for a pretty flower! Plant them in large groups for a beautiful effect.

Tulbaghia violacea

Also known as Wild Garlic, Tulbaghia violacea effectively cover the ground in lively, purple flowers when they are massed together. They resist dry spells very well and handle periods of heavy rains beautifully too. With time they will spread, and clumps can be separated and transplanted elsewhere. This plant doesn’t fall prey to insects too easily, although slugs and snails may present themselves. The flower houses a small clove of garlic, which can be used as regular garlic would be used, crushed into salads or used in cooking.

Strelitzia reginae

Also known as the Bird of Paradise flower, these gorgeous plants are exported worldwide from South Africa. Their woody stems support a fairly tall plant with attractive flowers that encourage bees and butterflies. They can withstand periods of extreme drought and handle neglect fairly well. They grow well in the sun or shade and make beautiful flower arrangements if you decide to harvest them. Use them in corners and near entranceways around buildings for a beauty of a bush that won’t let you down easily.

Portulacaria afra (Spekboom)

This proudly South African plant is full of wonders. The plant has small, rounded, succulent leaves that are a lovely bright green. It is extremely easy to propagate and grow.

This plant is ten times better at restoring good carbon levels in the air per square hectare than rainforest bush is, so plant this everywhere if you are interested in improving your air quality. It also has a rather interesting and unique ability to store sunlight within itself, and photosynthesise that energy as food for itself at night, when it is in dry conditions. It photosynthesis normally as other plants do when there is sufficient water and the air isn’t overly hot. It can survive on minimal water, withstanding some of the toughest drought conditions, but it adapts equally well to the humidity and moisture of tropical, rainforest climates too.

The benefits of water-wise practices

While a large percentage of our earth is covered in water, only 1% of it is actually usable, drinkable water. The rest is either salty or frozen. This is why we need to ensure that our homes, offices and other premises are all incorporating water-wise practices. Besides for gaining favour with the public, it will also cut down on utilities, and it does the earth well which will benefit everyone, in the end.

As population numbers rise, the demands on our existing water supplies increase too. Furthermore, South Africa is experiencing a shortage of rainfall, particularly in the southern tip of our country. Unfortunately, there is a finite supply of water, and without some rainfall, the water will eventually run out.

This may all feel rather like doom and gloom, but if you plan a garden that contains lots of drought-resistant plants, you can maintain a gloriously vibrant look without costing you in water or ecological ethics. If this all sounds labour-intensive, contact FSG, with our extensive knowledge of the local fauna and flora in Gauteng, we can keep your corporate premises looking vibrant and lively, regardless of the weather! Alternatively, read our blog on Low maintenance, high impact kerb appeal for tips and tricks to keep your premises in tip top shape, without the sweat!

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