5 plants that don’t need much water

Top tips from landscape designer Phillip Withers

Watch: Got a black thumb when it comes to plants? Try these…

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Climate change and water restrictions can have a significant impact on our backyards, however with clever planting you can still achieve a lush garden.

Phillip Withers of Phillip Withers Landscape Design shares his top picks for plants that can adapt to survive off rainfall alone.

These sturdy, hard-to-kill plants don’t need much water or TLC, but still provide impact and a lush, green feel to any garden.


1 Cushion bush (Leucophyta brownii)

Amelia Stanwix
(Credit: Amelia Stanwix)

Prefers: full sun, all soil types, freely drained soil. 
Water: Once established 1-2 times per week but will require water daily or every second day when maturing.
Benefits: Perfect for coastal sites as its wind & salt resistant.
Top tip: hates wet feet.
Extra: Flowers in summer, great in floral arrangements.

2. Australian Pig Face (Carpobrotus rossii)

Amelia Stanwix
(Credit: Amelia Stanwix)

Prefers: full sun, all soil types, freely drained soil.
Water: Can rely on rainwater alone once established. Once a week when establishing.
Benefits: Grows naturally in coastal areas, handles salt well. Perfect for covering areas of gradient (erosion control). 
Top tip: Propagated easily by cuttings.
Extra: insect attracting and edible. 

3. Silver banksia (Banksia marginata)

Amelia Stanwix
(Credit: Amelia Stanwix)

Prefers: full sun dry, well-drained soil.
Water: daily when establishing, once a week when established.
Benefits: coastal tolerant, drought tolerant. 
Extra: bird attracting, cut flower great in floral arrangements. 

4. Black paperbark (Melaleuca lancelota)

Amelia Stanwix
(Credit: Amelia Stanwix)

Prefers: Full sun to part shade.
Water: Daily to every second day when establishing, will rely on rainfall alone once established.
Benefits: Grows naturally in coastal areas so it’s wind-resistant, salt-resistant and drought-tolerant. 
Top tip: Because of their form they make great natural playgrounds and provide suitable shelter for native wildlife.

5. Grass tree (Xanthorrhoea)

Amelia Stanwix
(Credit: Amelia Stanwix)

Prefers: Full sun to part shade, most soils types, freely drainable soil.
Water: Will rely on rainwater alone.
Benefits: They make great feature planting, butterfly and insect attracting.
Top tip: Can suffer from mealybug and scale when overwatered.
Extra: Flower from autumn to summer with a striking inflorescence.

Phillip Withers will present “It’s Our Time’ presented by Yarra Valley Water at the 25th Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, which runs from March 25-29, 2020.

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