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Get Springing: Top tips to get gardening with indigenous plants and trees this arbor week

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Are you looking to plant a tree for arbor week?
Read Briza’s top tips to get gardening creatively with indigenous plants and trees for arbor week.

It’s arbor week from 1 to 7 September in South Africa which is a great opportunity to place a spotlight on our unsung heroes – indigenous plants and trees. Indigenous plants or trees or those native to an area like South Africa and are important for an area’s ecosystem by providing many benefits. South Africa is renowned for its rich natural diversity and plant life so why not play your part in conservation by planting indigenous plants this year.

Indigenous vs. exotic plants and trees

Indigenous plants are found naturally in a particular area whereas exotic plants come from a foreign regions like overseas. Examples of indigenous South African trees include acacias, baobabs or even, our national tree the Outeniqua yellowwood. Although exotic trees can be beautiful, like the stunning Jacaranda tree, they could have a negative effect on South Africa’s local ecosystem, because they:

  • require more water which puts a strain on the indigenous plants around them
  • are prone to infestation
  • die out easily
  • can cause subsidence – a problem occurring where the soil beneath the ground becomes uneven which could potentially ruin structures in an area such as pavements and sidewalks.

Benefits of planting indigenous plants and trees

On the other hand, indigenous plants offer several benefits because they:

  • improve soil quality by encouraging water retention, and preventing water run off
  • maintain the local ecosystem by providing food and shelter for local animals
  • are lower maintenance than exotic plants and trees
  • contribute to the conservation of our natural diversity

Things to consider before planting indigenous plants and trees

  1. Make sure that your indigenous plant or tree suits the natural habitat, climate and weather conditions of your area. These are called endemic plants or trees.
  2. Consider the amount of rainfall you get in your area.
  3. Consider the size of your garden.
  4. Plant your tree or plant in the correct area. Before planting, choose a suitable spot taking into consideration its estimated growth. Some trees have far-spreading roots so take care not to plant are too close to your house.

Top indigenous plants and trees for small gardens

SHRUBS: impala lily, bush violet, wild aster, hybrid spur flowers

PERENNIALS AND GROUND COVERS: veld aloe, gazania, stalked bulbine, dwarf agapanthus

ACCENT PLANTS: krantz aloe, coral aloe, crane flower (strelitzia)

WATER WISE TREES: bushveld bride, jacketplum, corkbush, paperbark

Want to learn more about gardening with indigenous plants and trees?

Shop two of Briza’s awesome titles, Creative gardening with indigenous plants, and Making the most of indigenous trees (also available in Afrikaans!).

These comprehensive guides will help you to bring indigenous plants to your garden by providing information on plants selection, propogation and cultivation, habitat, seasons, water use, etc.

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