Sustainable Gardening for a Greener Future

5 Indigenous Plants for Water-Wise Gardening in South Africa according to Tanya Visser

With World Water Day having been celebrated recently in March and in the face of ongoing water scarcity issues and the impacts of climate change, the importance of water conservation is more pressing than ever. South Africa, already struggling with water scarcity due to drought and climate change, needs to adopt water-wise gardening practices to conserve this precious resource.

According to Tanya Visser, SA’s favourite green-fingered media personality and gardener extraordinaire who will be appearing again in this year’s East Coast Radio House + Garden Show in July, a great way to be more water-wise is by using indigenous plants that have adapted to the local climate and require less water.

“It is essential to prioritize water-wise plants in our gardens to minimize the use of scarce water resources, especially in regions with limited water supply. Here are five indigenous water-wise plants that can be incorporated into South African gardens:

  1. A household favourite, the Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) which is also known as “elephant’s food,” is a succulent plant that can store water in its leaves. It is an excellent carbon sink and has been found to be highly effective in mitigating climate change. It’s popularity with gardeners is its low-maintenance needs and its ease of propagation from cuttings.
  • Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) have  eye-catching blue or white flowers,  commonly found in gardens around the country. They are drought-tolerant and can survive with little water, making them an ideal choice for water-wise gardens. Agapanthus also attract bees and butterflies nectar-loving birds, making them an excellent choice for pollinator-friendly gardens. Agapanthus are not only popular plants in South African gardens but they have made their way around the world, featuring in home gardens and parks. Extensive cross pollinating of plants has also resulted in the formation of incredible colours ranging from almost black to velvet blue.
  • Another water-wise succulent is the Aloe (Aloe ferox), which is well-suited to the hot, dry conditions of South Africa. It requires minimal water and can thrive in poor soil conditions. The plant has medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments such as acne and skin abrasions. If the large Aloe ferox is not for you then do keep an eye out for the more compact Aloe Hybrids aloe hybrids, these are not genetically modified at all but rather have been created through selective breeding and cross pollination. Being low and compact they lend themselves perfectly to small gardens and of course pots and containers.
  • The Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) is a fast-growing shrub that produces clusters of orange or yellow tubular flowers that attract birds and bees. Cape Honeysuckle also responds well to pruning, making it a popular choice for hedging.
  • The vibrant, daisy-like flowers produced by the African Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis) are a standout attraction in any garden with its shades of purple, pink and white. The African Daisy is not only an ideal choice for water-wise gardens but also a  popular choice for borders and rock gardens. Butterflies adore their large open-faced blooms.

By prioritizing indigenous plants that are adapted to the local climate and require less water, gardeners in South Africa can help conserve water resources and contribute to a more sustainable future. Cairey Baxter-Bruce, Show Director for the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show adds, “Incorporating water-wise plants into our gardens is a vital step in ensuring that we use our water resources in a responsible and sustainable manner. We are excited about what other great insights and tips Tanya Visser and other gardening experts, will be sharing with us at this year’s Show”.  Don’t miss the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show from 1– 9 July 2023 at the Durban Exhibition Centre. For more information on the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show, visit the website or follow them on Instagram and Facebook using @housegardenshow.