Watering a native pot plant
Image: Michael Hayward | DOC


Take a moment to act for nature this year by growing a native pot plant.

Pot plants are a great way to bring the outdoors indoors and connect with nature in your home. There are so many to choose from, you will be able to find a perfect plant for your space. They’re a great way to create a garden in smaller and rented spaces, or those with a limited backyard.

There are native plants to Aotearoa New Zealand that are suited to being grown in a pot. This can be inside or in smaller outdoor areas depending on your local climate. They can have amazing textures, colours, bring nature into your home and support your environment.

This Conservation Week we are encouraging you to try growing a native pot plant in or outdoors. Get started with the advice below from plant experts around the country.

Why should I grow native plants?

Growing native plants are a great way to become familiar with the native biodiversity we have here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Bringing a few into your home can help you to connect with nature too.

Native plants grown outside in your garden or in large pots can provide habitat or food for native birds, lizards, or insects.

You can help maintain your area's unique characteristics by choosing local native plants for outdoor pots and containers. They will be suited to your area’s conditions and more likely to survive. Picking these also avoids planting species that could become invasive. This means that they could spread and stop other plants from thriving.

By growing different plants and using selected pots you can create a wide range of design looks. Pots are easy to move around to suit your home, and can change or refresh the feel of any space.

Native plants to grow indoors or in pots

We’ve listed examples of a few native plants you could try growing in pots at home below. Try to source local advice to get the best guidance for the climate, space, and size you have available to help choose your plant.

Be aware that:

  • depending on where you live, you may have more success growing some plants outside. This is because some species can be trickier to grow inside.
  • plants may not be available in your area, but there might be a better suited variation for your location. For example, there are many types of native fern with some more available than others.
  • you should not transplant any plants including any natives into your local reserve. This can damage your local area. 

Small indoor pots

Hen and Chicken ferns work in pots or hanging baskets

Ferns are ideal for indoor plants that like moisture. Keeping a water mister handy is good reminder to keep the moisture up. Ferns to try include:

  • any from the genus Adiantum - these are delicate maidenhair ferns that like shade and constant moisture.
  • popular options such as Adiantum hispidulum and cunninghamii.
  • the button fern Pellaea rotundifolia which is often sold as an indoor plant.
  • the Hen and Chicken Fern Asplenium bulbiferum is a popular plant to pot or place in a hanging basket. You can also propagate the new ferns that grow along its leaves.

Fuchsia procumbens is a creeper or a climber depending on how it is trained to grow, that has a lovely bell shape flower. It likes wet and shady environments so could be suitable in your bathroom.

Medium indoor/outdoor pots

  • Grasses from the genus Carex are elegant plants with different shade of colours. They usually prefer dry and sunny environments and make a nice addition to balconies or patios.
  • The New Zealand irises (species of Libertia). Libertia grandiflora is attractive and suited to a wide range of situations.
  • The Veronica shrub and Astelia herb (e.g. Astelia solandrii) are better suited for outdoors and is the smallest species of hebe.

Large outdoor pots

  • Poor Knights lily (Xeronema callistemon) is a popular garden plant that can grow to a half a metre to a metre in size. It loves the constraint of pots and is ideal for large size pots that are placed outdoors in full sun. It might also be suitable indoors in warmer climates.

Places to buy native plants

See if you have a native plant garden centre locally. They may have online resources too about what natives grow well in pots or containers.

You can try enquiring at your local New Zealand Botanical Society branch.

Botanical Gardens and councils’ nurseries sometimes organise fund-raising plant sales once a year. This is a good time to look for and buy plants. You may be able to get recommendations from experienced native plant growers there.

Your local garden centre or hardware shop may sell native plants. Be aware that these plants can often be cultivars or hybrids.

Plants to avoid growing and why

Many plant species that are invading and damaging our natural areas are non-native flowering plants. They can spread from gardens, become or cause growth of weeds, and go wild.

This can happen in the bush or even hundreds of kilometres away. Often the worst ground covering and climbing weeds found in natural areas originate from discarded pot plants. 

This can cost councils, government departments and private landowners time and money to manage. Volunteers and community groups also contribute thousands of unpaid hours to control these weeds each year.

Many pest plants will establish from discarded leaf and root fragments, cuttings or seed-heads. Once established, these plants can quickly replace native vegetation. They are often further distributed by birds, animals, wind or water movement.

Help reduce invasive weeds

Reduce the spread of invasive weeds:

  • Don't grow them in your garden. Take a look at these Plant me instead booklets.
  • Look out for pest plants and remove them.
  • Take your garden waste to an approved landfill or transfer station, burn it or bury it – do not dump it.
  • If you see a new plant spreading out of control, report to your local authority or regional council.
  • Find out which of your garden plants could escape into native bush.
  • Buy garden plants that you know will not escape and become pests.

Avoid growing these plant species in particular:

  • Most species of succulent.
  • Mexican daisy (Erigeron karvinskianum).
  • Wandering willy – all species including Tradescantia fluminensis.
  • Aluminium plant (Lamium galeobdolon)
  • African clubmoss (Selaginella kraussiana)
  • Climbing asparagus – several species including Asparagus scandens
  • Smilax (Asparagus asparagoides)
  • Plectranthus – several species
  • Hanging saxifrage (Saxifraga stolonifera)
  • Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Climbing jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)
  • Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

More advice on growing native plants 

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