Time poor? Try these low maintenance plants in your garden, courtyard or balcony.
A landscaper’s favourite plant. The Liriope plant ticks off numerous low maintenance boxes and is a very widely used plant for good reason. They are cheap, they are tough, they come in a range of sizes and colours and can be easily divided to create more plants. Suitable for sunny to shady locations, Liriope is one versatile plant. Liriope’s can be cut right back once a year to allow for new fresh growth but this is often not required. A great plant for border planting, mass planting and even Green Walls. Liriope does produce flower spikes of White through to Mauve and even deeper Purples. Liriope can be used in Tropical, Formal and Asian themed applications.
9. Philodendron xanadu
House Plants of Australia’s Plant of the Year in 1988, the Philodendron Xanadu is another tough, low maintenance and versatile plant. Widely used in Tropical gardens, the Philodendron is glossy green in colour with ‘Frilly’ foliage. Perfect for pots or mass planting, the Philodendron prefers light shade to sunny locations. Too much shade for this plant will result in a sparse growth habit. The Xanadu grows as a clump and as it matures will produce pups which can be divided and re-planted.
Also known as Moses in A Cradle, Rhoeo (Rhoeo discolour) can be left to do its thing with great results. Planted in a pot it will fill all available space by sending out pups to the side of the main plant. These pups can be separated and replanted or left to grow and multiply. The beautiful violet underside of the leaf contrasts with the green upper surface with striking effect. Rhoeo does not like wet feet and will quickly show signs of distress when the soil remains wet for too long. Rhoeo can be grown in both sun and shade. Low maintenance, TICK.
7. Gymea Lily
Doryanthes excelsa, an Australian native that requires very little to no maintenance. The flower produced by the Gymea Lily is a tall green spike up to 5m high with a red flower head at the top. Once you see one of these in flower you will notice them again and again. Gymea lily’s usually require bushfire to stimulate flowering, but will flower without bushfire. Another way to stimulate flower production is to place a small stone at the centre of the plant. Do so carefully as to not damage the growing point. The leaves are a mid-lime green and sword shaped up to 1 metre long. Gymea Lily’s do like a slow release fertiliser to ensure prolific leaf growth and flower production. They grow well in ground as well as large pots or containers and enjoy a deep water in the warmer months.
6. Succulents – Chalk Sticks, Pig Face, Agave
Succulents live a very minimalist life. Requiring little water, little soil nutrients and generally little care, Succulents are great low maintenance plants. Some favourites include Chalk Sticks (Senecio vitals) for their very stunning and unique grey/blue colouring, Pig Face (Carpobrotus glaucescens) for their fluorescent flower displays and Agave (Agave attenuate) for its rosette form and use for feature planting. There are succulents for most applications including ground covers, feature plants and Green Walls. Removal of spent leaves is all that is generally required as well as good sun exposure. Plant in free draining, sandy soils. Planting succulents like Pig Face in nutrient rich soils can result in dramatic foliage growth and little to no flowering!
5. Cordyline fruticosa
Cordyline ‘Rubra’ ‘Pink Sensation’ ‘Nigra’ are just a few of the varieties of Cordyline’s Kyora love to use. Also know as Cabbage Palm, Good Luck Plant or Palm Lily, the colourful foliage of this plant can enhance almost any space. Cordyline’s are very versatile. They can cope with sun exposure and can also handle quite low light positions. The maintenance of this plant involves removing the odd dead leaf and that is it! If the plant gets too tall, chop it off and it will re-shoot just below the cut. Don’t throw away the cutting, this can be re-planted! Cordyline’s work in a tropical garden setting, but can also work when mixed with natives such as Gymea Lily’s, Lomandra’s and Cycad’s.
4. Grass Tree
An Australia native, the Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea sp) is one plant that most Australians would quickly recognise. This hardy bush plant is well known for its often charcoal trunk and tall flower spike. An expensive landscape plant for its extremely slow growing nature, only growing around 1cm a year. A Grass Tree that is 1metre high can be up to 100 years old! Grass trees range from ground level up to over 2m high and require good soil drainage. A perfect low maintenance feature plant that instantly creates Australian native feel. Most Grass Trees are transplanted specimens and should be planted with care. Once established in its new location you will enjoy this plant for years, and years, and years to come!
3. Cycad/Cardboard Plant
Requiring little to no maintenance the Cycad (Cycas revoluta) and Carboard plant (Zamia furfuracea) are very popular in the landscape design realm. Both striking plants as single specimens or mass planted. The foliage of these plants is stiff and cardboard like (Hence the name!) Both are slow growing but will do well in both pots and unground in positions ranging from full sun to part shade. Maintenance requirements include removing old foliage once a year, thats pretty much it. These plants work in Native, Tropical, Formal and Asian themed gardens.
2. Rhapis Palm
Otherwise know as Lady Palm, the Rhapis Palm (Rhapis excelsa) can be used both indoors and outdoors. They are a slow growing plant that prefers a shaded of filtered light location. Too much sun for these plants will result in the foliage burning and over long periods turning yellow. Due to their slow growing nature, maintenance of these plants is minimal. Like the Cordyline’s, removal of the odd dead leaf is all these require. If the tips of the leaves go a little brown, a good trick is to get some craft scissors which have a zig-zag blade. You can then cut off the leaf tip on not the entire leaf and the cut will go un-noticed. Once established, they can handle drying out a little but much prefer it a little moist under foot. These plants can fit in a tropical garden or a chinese/japanese theme garden. Indoors they act as a natural air cleaner.
1. Giant Bromeliad
If you want a low maintenance feature plant look no further. These plants will provide a wow factor to your garden. A great plant to put in a pot but even better in a suitable position in your garden. Giant Bromeliads (Alcantarea sp)c an get over 1m wide so plant with that sort of space in mind and not right next to footpaths or high traffic areas. They are not a particularly fast grower initially, but its the type of plant you’ll look at a few years after planting and think “When did that get so BIG!?” Bromeliads capture water in the centre of the plant, so this must be kept topped up and prevented from drying out. Giant Brom’s don’t like wet feet so avoid over watering at the base of the plant. They will eventually flower and provide you with a flower spike of up to 2.5metres high! Cut of browning leaves from the base of the plant as it grows.
Written by Nick Mason