native plants for sale

Top 5 Native Plants of New Zealand

Native plants in New Zealand evolved almost in isolation for a million of years. In fact, 80% of these plants are endemic. 15% of the total land area is covered with these native plants, from ferns to alpines to scrub and tussocks, which can only be found in New Zealand.
The country is host to many of the exotic plants used for revegetation projects. Among the top native plants in New Zealand include the kōwhai , cabbage tree, kauri, manuka and the harakeke/flax. These are the top five exotic plants used for landscaping and revegetation services.

Kōwhai is one of the best-known native plants in New Zealand. At times considered as the unofficial national flower of the country. Its bright yellow flowers and imagery are used in popular art works. The maori, one of its genus, is durable and has many medicinal properties.  It’s also an important source of seasonal nectar, benefitting a host of native birds.

Cabbage tree

The cabbage tree is the most distinct tree in the New Zealand landscape. They grow all over the country, usually on wet, open areas like swamps. Cabbage trees are pleasing to the eye because of their bluish-white, scented flowers that bloom during summer, and provide food for insects and birds. It has a thick bark and a huge fleshy taproot, which makes them hardy and strong.

Among the world’s mightiest trees, the Kauri can grow up to 50 m tall.  In the old days, the tree was used by the Maori tribe for boat building, building houses, or carving. Kauri’s gum was used as fire starter and for chewing. Over the years, there is an extensive drive to protect it from extinction.

Manuka is also known as a “tea tree”, along with the Kanuka. These native plants range from being flat creeping forms to small shrubs. It is one of the most popular native plants in New Zealand because of its inherent characteristics, its pink-flushed flowers and its sooty mould. Contrary to other native plants, manuka is not eaten by foraging animals, which makes it suitable for restoration projects.


Flax is one of New Zealand’s oldest native plant species. It has two distinct species: common flax (harakeke) and mountain flax (wharariki). This plant is sorecognizable because of its tall, green, sword-like leaves growing all throughout the islands. They thrive in wet areas, either on high altitudes or along coastlines. 

Colorful exotic plants such as the Kōwhai, because of its small leaflets and juvenile branches, are perfect for urban areas since these plants add texture to a structural setting such as in a city.  The manuka is also suitable for urban areas for of its distinctive features.  Kaui is more suitable for rural areas since they consume more space. The same is true with cabbage trees which makes these plants ideal for rural landscaping.

There is a host of other native plants for urban and rural landscaping, but identifying these top five native plants for your property is crucial so you can plan and assess your landscaping project with the appropriate plants. Identifying these top native plants also will help you determine which plants to use to develop your land.

Better yet; seek the help of a professional. At Rural Design, we can provide you with the right native plants suitable for your property. We understand that developing your land is not a walk in the park. Careful planning and having the appropriate design for your landscaping project is required to maximize the potential of both your native plants and your property.

Rural Design will be there to assist you, from your planning to riparian planting to site preparation and even helping you find the right native plants from our native plant nursery. We offer:

● Competitive pricing on native plants
● Eco-source plants for your property
● A list of wholesale native plants for your landscaping and revegetation projects

For more of these native plants and your landscaping needs, you check our website,, or visit us at 300 Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Road, Kaiwaka, Northland

Strategies for Urban Ecological Restoration

The Department of Conservation defines ecological restoration as “the process of re-establishing a self-sustaining habitat or ecosystem similar to what is likely to have existed prior to human contact, and the reintroduction of native fauna and flora and the eradication or control of pests.”
Ecological restoration usually involves a variety of projects such as 

● reforestation and revegetation using indigenous, native species of plants, trees and bushes
● removal of weeds and other non-native species
● habitat and range improvements

Ecological restoration is often implemented in rural communities where it’s possible to restore large areas and the benefits of ecological restoration are immediately visible. However, it’s seldom implemented in urban areas due to space and logistical constraints. There’s also the issue of how viable restoration efforts would be in an urban setting with factors like human activity and climate change come into play.

But ecological restoration is exactly what urban areas need. Eco-cities that co-exist with the natural ecosystem tend to be healthier and more sustainable. It is a perfect system for urban areas because it:

1. consumes fewer resources, 
2. produces less waste, 
3. is powered by sustainable resources, 
4. mitigates the impact of climate change and
5. provides a level of sufficiency that protects urban dwellers from catastrophic events.

Urban ecological restoration is challenging but not impossible. The goal with urban ecological restoration is to design a city that caters to sustainable population and ecological growth. It’s not just about turning a city greener. It’s about making a city and all its residents healthier, allowing both native plants and city dwellers to thrive even in an urban environment. 

In Auckland, for example, part of the challenge of making their city among the greenest in the world is the increasing number of inhabitants in the area, enabling Chief Sustainability Officer John Mauro to quip recently, “If the city is going to be a desirable place to live, we need to not only have housing that’s affordable and easy transport connections, we need to have green space.” It is only then that we consider human activity with ecological restoration that development will take place. 

Urban ecological restoration doesn’t have to be done in one massive step. It can be done incrementally in a number of ways: 

Roads - Instead of emphasizing high volume roads with equally high speed arterials, they can be toned down, converting into a two-way road but widening certain footpaths. They can be converted into a streetscape along parks and cafes, encouraging more public transport and pedestrian traffic.

Residential areas - Subdivisions with cabbage trees and other native plants as vegetation. A barren piece of land in the middle of the subdivision can be used as recreation area like a mini park or urban garden with trees planted along the road for some shade. Condominium units can provide spaces for window gardens and rooftop mini-forests. Rooftops and roof decks can be used as small scale solar or wind farms to supplement the city’s energy supply.

Parks - Small wetlands inside parks can be developed and restored into fishing or ornamental ponds. Mini gardens, native plant nurseries, and habitats for wild animals as well as observatories are installed. 

Office buildings - For new buildings, they should conform with LEED standards. For older buildings, mini gardens can be built just outside the lobby and along walkways. For all building, provisions for sustainable energy and wastewater management should be provided by building owners.

Urban farms - A large native plant nursery, greenhouse gardens as well as conservatories of rare exotic plant and animal species can be found in urban farms. 

This would be a daunting task for any city but with the right planning, implementation and resource, urban ecological restoration can be done effectively and efficiently. With public support, government initiative, and the expertise of partners like Rural Design, it’s possible to create a healthy green cities all over the country within our lifetime

What You Should Look For In Your Native Plant Supplier

Revegetation and restoration projects are delicate processes. They involve the use of native plants and bushes to restore a piece of land to its natural state. It’s not enough for your plant supplier to have a basic knowledge of botany. Your supplier must who know all the different native plant species of New Zealand and have a deep understanding of how these grow, spread and adapt to different environments.

If a plant supplier doesn’t know these things, then he or she really doesn’t know how to take care of a nursery. Chances are he’ll end up wasting time money and resources as the revegetation project progresses.

The Importance of Seed Eco-Sourcing

It takes careful planning to set-up and install native plant nurseries. Eco-sourcing native seeds, for instance, is important because it’s a sustainable way to maintain your nursery. It helps preserve native species, and ensure resilient plant stock for revegetation and ecological restoration projects.

A native plant nursery that uses and encourages the use of eco-sourced seeds is also cost effective. Eco-sourced plants adapt easily to different soil conditions, which helps cut down maintenance costs of restored areas. It also reduce costs if ever you want to revegetate more land in the same area.

The Importance of having an extensive catalogue of native plants

As a supplier, you should have an extensive catalogue of wholesale native plants for revegetation. Just because it’s a native plant doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right type of plant to thrive in that kind of environment or location.

Given the wide ecological and geographical variations of the islands, it’s best to work with a nursery that’s sure to have the right kind of flora for any environment. In doing so, you will have a wide variety of native plants to choose from. You’ll be able to select what’s best suited for the location; plants that would surely thrive and greatly benefit the land and environment around it.

The importance of having an in-house nursery manager

Native plant nurseries need constant monitoring, so an in-house nursery manager will needed for huge revegetation projects. An in-house nursery manager not only takes care of the nursery. Their extensive knowledge and experience with native plants and revegetation would be invaluable in planning and implementation.

An in-house nursery manager would be invaluable to these projects because of their knowledge on what kind of native plants would work. Unlike conventional plant species, native plants have specific needs and characteristics to adapt to their environment. For example, most eco-sourced plants are disease-resistant but it also depends on the type of plant, soil conditions, weather, altitude, etc, on how effective these plants would be. The expertise of a nursery manager would help you save time and money by choosing the right kind of native plants for your restoration even before you start planting.

The Importance of Ecologist Participation During Revegetation

We at Rural Designs take pride in the fact that we have ecologists actively involved in all our revegetation projects. Even though revegetation is an activity that some property owners do themselves, having an ecologist as part of the planning and implementation has greatly contributed to the success our projects.

Having an ecologist that’s actively involved in our native plant nursery operations helps ensure that the plans are feasible and cost-effective, and the planting is done efficiently with minimal impact and effort.

Our ecological risk and impact assessment planning covers the physical, biological, social and even stakeholder participation for the revegetation of your property. Every action has an environmental impact, even planting. The assessments conducted by our ecologists, with considerations to its immediate impact in the community, will help determine the kind of native plants for your property, minimize environmental impact revegetation and maximize the effects of the ecological restoration process.  

The Importance of Planting Experience

A native plant nursery should also have its own planting services. For revegetation projects to be successful, real life experience is essential. A well rounded native plant nursery that has extensive knowledge of its catalogue, plus experience in planning, design, and implementation would help ensure the success and effectiveness of any restoration project.

Our extensive experience with project management and implementation gives you more flexibility in planning for those native plants as part of your revegetation. Our catalogue also has a wide array of native plant collection for you to choose from, to adapt to every kind of environment and soil conditions. We at Rural Designs are more than just a nursery, or a design firm, assessment firm, or planting service. We have the well-rounded expertise and resources to would ensure a successful, cost effective, and sustainable revegetation and restoration project.