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Native New Zealand trees to plant in every type of space

Native trees are a great way to support the ecosystem, attract native birds like tuis and fantails to your outdoor space and improve the look of your home. Here’s how to find the right type of native trees for your space.
By · May 30, 2024
Native New Zealand trees to plant in every type of space

Whether you’ve got a large backyard, a paved courtyard, or a balcony, native New Zealand trees will look great in any type of space. Native trees are a great way to support the ecosystem, attract native birds like tuis and fantails to your outdoor space and improve the look of your home.

Here’s how to find the right type of native trees for your space.

Best native New Zealand trees for attracting birds to your backyard

One of the best reasons for planting native trees in your space is to attract birds. Native birds like tuis, fantails, kaka, waxeyes and Kererū are attracted to the berries and nectar on many native New Zealand trees.

Many of these trees and shrubs are large and would suit a backyard with ample planting space away from fences or dwellings.

Bring birds to your backyard by planting:

Kōwhai

Known for its bright yellow flowers, kōwhai is a favourite among native birds, particularly tūī and bellbirds, which are attracted to its nectar.

Flax/Harakeke

Although technically a flax, this plant is important for native birds as its nectar-rich flowers attract tūī, bellbirds, and silvereyes.

Pōhutukawa

Often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, its vibrant red flowers attract nectar-feeding birds like tūī and bellbirds.

Rātā

Like pōhutukawa, rātā trees produce nectar-rich flowers that attract native birds. Both Northern and Southern Rātā are great choices for a large backyard.

Karamū

These shrubs produce berries that are a food source for many birds, including kererū.

Kānuka and Mānuka

Both provide habitat and attract insects that birds feed on while also offering nectar for species like the tūī and bellbirds.

Kāmahi

This tree produces small white flowers that provide nectar for birds.

Puriri

Puriri trees have flowers and berries that attract a range of bird species, including kererū, tūī, and bellbirds.

Miro

Its berries are particularly favoured by kererū. Miro is very slow-growing and can take up to 25 years to reach its full height.

Five-finger

Produces berries that are a food source for birds like tūī and silvereyes.

When growing native plants in your backyard remember:

  • The best time to plant is late autumn, late winter and spring

  • Keep the ground well watered before you plant

  • Dig your hole twice the depth and width of the root of the tree you are planting

  • Plant your native at the same depth as the soil it came in (in the pot)

  • Mulch your natives at the stem to retain moisture in the soil

Are native New Zealand trees suitable for an urban space?

Pohutukawa, Kauri and Rimu trees are some of New Zealand’s most beautiful native trees. They’re also some of the largest! But, just because you have a small outdoor space doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the beauty of native plants.

The best native New Zealand trees for a courtyard

Growing native New Zealand trees in pots is a great way to bring nature into a courtyard or small garden space. Here are some native trees and shrubs that are well-suited for container growth:

Kōwhai

These trees can thrive in pots, especially the smaller Sophora prostrata variety. Their beautiful yellow flowers attract birds and provide great visual appeal.

Kākābeak

Known for their striking red or white flowers shaped like a kākā's beak, these small shrubs are perfect for pots and can attract birds. They also provide an added pop of colour to a small outdoor area!

Phormium 'Green Dwarf' flax

These varieties of native flax are smaller and great for growing in a pot. They have green upright foliage, and beautiful yellow flowers that tuis love.

Hebes

Many hebe varieties are compact and ideal for pots. They produce beautiful flowers that can attract butterflies and bees to your courtyard. Their flowers range from purple to red, blue and white and are perfect for brightening up a space.

Kānuka

Dwarf varieties of kānuka can be grown in pots. They have small white flowers and a pleasant, aromatic foliage.

Rātā Vine

This climber can be grown in a large pot with support. Scarlet rātā vine is one of the most well-known types. It produces stunning red flowers that are a favourite of native birds. Scarlet rātā flowers in autumn and winter, making it ideal for bringing colour to the outdoors.

When growing native trees and shrubs in pots, remember to:

  • Use high-quality native potting mix.

  • Ensure the pots have good drainage.

  • Water regularly, as potted plants dry out faster than ground ones.

  • Feed with a slow-release fertiliser suitable for native plants.

  • Choose large pots to accommodate the root system as the plant grows.

  • These native plants can thrive in containers, adding beauty and attracting birds to your courtyard.

The best native plants for a small balcony or outdoor space

Just because you have limited outdoor space doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy New Zealand’s native flora. From flowering plants to native herbs, here are the best natives to plant in small pots to bring colour and fragrance to your balcony.

Hebes

New Zealand has 80-90 species of native hebe varieties, all perfect for planting in a garden or potting. As they are a smaller species of shrub, they are ideal for small places, and their colourful flowers are beautiful. Hebes need good drainage to grow well and are perfect for colder climates.

Coprosma 'Karo Red’

These compact shrubs are small but striking with dark red foliage. They are very hardy and suitable for growing in a pot or container.

Chatham Island Forget-me-not

These beautiful plants are endemic to the Chatham Islands and sport blue flowers and lush foliage. They can grow up to a metre in diameter in the garden, but as they prefer partial shade, they are an ideal balcony plant.

Anaphalioides bellidioides

This herb is a great addition to any balcony. It is also known as New Zealand Edelweiss and produces white, daisy-like flowers.

Mentha cunninghamii

This plant is more commonly referred to as New Zealand Native Mint. It is a creeping herb with a mild mint flavour. It can be grown in small pots and is a great addition to add to cooking. It can be used just as you would use a regular mint plant.

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