This section aims to provide advice on selecting the most appropriate plants for your ecological restoration site. It should be noted that not all sites require planting and your focus may be on pest control and natural plant regeneration. If you have decided to plant, the information and links below will help to get you started. This includes general advice for the whole country but also some region-specific information for some regions. We recommend reading information for your region as well as the general advice so that you get the best, most locally appropriate advice.
Catchpool volunteers. DOC
It is important that you study the locality of your site, and ascertain what native species occur naturally and are thriving in the area. We recommend that you plant eco-sourced plants.
Alternatively you can check with your local regional council or native plant nursery which plants are best for your project, or choose from a range of publications, some of which are available for free from Regional Councils.
If you are planting in bare ground you will have the greatest success using hardy plants, often referred to as 'colonising species'. They can tolerate full sun, wind, harsh soil conditions and competition and, once established, provide a good environment for other plants that require more shelter to establish.
Once the colonising plants are establishing in your project area you can consider ‘enrichment planting’. That is planting others species that are less hardy, rare or regionally distinct and that can be reasonably expected to have once existed at your site, diverse types of plants such as vines, grasses and ferns, and additional long term canopy trees. Theses can be planted amidst or under the established colonising species, or they could be planted in ‘blanks’ or gaps where occasional plants have died or failed to establish following the initial planting.
Think about toxins, bees and other health and safety issues
When choosing the plants to use and bear in mind that a number of plants pose risks to people.
- Avoid planting species that are toxic to animals (e.g. tutu, poroporo, ngaio) beside trails used by horse riders or next to paddock fences.
- Think about whether poisonous berries would be a problem in an area that has a lot of use by small children.
- Coriaria (tutu) species can poison honey if the introduced passionvine hopper is present in the area (i.e. north of the 42 degrees South Parallel). For more information on tutu in honey, see the managing tutin contamination in honey from Ministry for Primary Industries. While this species is a good coloniser, we do not recommend that it be planted in those regions unless it is already commonly present in or near the planting site.
- Karaka nectar has been reported to be toxic to bees.
- Tree nettle, bush lawyer, speargrass, toetoe and similar species may be a hazard or make things unpleasant for track users, so planting sites should be carefully chosen. You will also need to think about safety of volunteers when planting these types of species.
Thinking about nectar and fruit for animals
It is worth thinking about whether you can enhance available nectar and fruit for birds, bees, lizards and native invertebrates. While these may provide a ready feed source for maintaining and attracting native fauna to your project area, the species they attract may also play an important role in redistributing seed around your site and beyond, further facilitating revegetation. Plants vary considerably in how valuable they are as a food source for animals, and what time of year they provide that food.
For bees, the Trees for bees nz has some useful information. Bare in mind that exotic honey bees may also compete with indigenous fauna for nectar and pollen. The paper honeyeaters and the New Zealand forest flora: the untilisation and profitability of small flowers (144 KB, .PDF) provides a list of native flowers on Kapiti visited most often by honeyeater birds. The Forest & Bird page creating a lizard friendly garden has a list of lizard food plants.
- Dairy NZ riparian planner
- Native plants, Department of Conservation
- Native plant publications, Department of Conservation
- Nature Services is a comprehensive, plant selection guide for ecological restoration, landscaping and ecosystem service provision.
- New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
- Protecting and restoring our natural heritage - a practical guide, Department of Conservation
- Caring for forest fragments, Auckland Council (614KB, .PDF)
- Coastal clay banks, Auckland Council (534KB, .PDF)
- Coastal cliff top planting guide, Auckland Council (337KB, .PDF)
- Coastal forest planting guide, Auckland Council (251KB, .PDF)
- Coastal Planting Guide, Auckland Council (335KB, .PDF)
- Coastal wetlands, saltmarshes & estuaries, Auckland Council (451KB, .PDF)
- Dune Planting Guide, Auckland Council (482KB, .PDF)
- Eco-sourcing Auckland, Auckland Council (1.66MB, .PDF)
- Plant to support lizards page, Auckland Council
- Native Forest Restoration, Auckland Council (391KB, .PDF)
- Planting for pollination page, Auckland Council
- Riparian - streamline planting, Auckland Council (465KB, .PDF)
- Wetlands factsheet 2, Auckland Council (747KB, .PDF)
- Wildlife and your backyard, Auckland Coucil (1.9MB, .PDF)
Bay of Plenty Resources
- Establishment practices for revegetation projects, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (228 KB, .PDF)
- Native plants for revegetation projects, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (516 KB, .PDF)
- Plant selection for disturbed sites, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (212 KB, .PDF)
- Plant selection for environmental protection areas, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (140 KB, .PDF)
- Revegetation and shelter plants for coastal conditions, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (1.20 MB, .PDF)
Hawkes Bay Resources
- Native plants for erosion control, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (116 KB, .PDF);
- Planting native plants in Hawkes Bay, Hawke's Bay Regional Council (10 MB, .PDF)
- Coastal planting, Horizons Regional Council (8.24 MB, .PDF)
- Trees for bees planting guide for Taranaki/Wanganui/Manawatu/Wellington (232 KB, .PDF)
- A planters handbook for Northland Natives, Northland Regional Council (2.51 MB, .PDF)
- Riparian management, Northland Regional Council
- Establishing riparian vegetation, Taranaki Regional Council (213 KB, .PDF)
- Various detailed planting guides, Taranaki Regional Council
- Food source calendar for birds in the Waikato (PDF, 118KB)
- Hamilton Halo Gardeners Guide – Planting for Tui & Bellbird, Waikato Regional Council
- Various detailed planting guides, Waikato Regional Council
- Planting lists for different habitats in the Waikato District, DOC
- Akura conservation centres publications, Greater Wellington Regional Council
- Fifteen useful hardy species for the Wellington region, Greater Wellington Regional Council
- Food source calendar for native birds in the lower North Island (PDF, 228KB)
- Native planting for streamsides in Wellington, Department of Conservation
- Planting Natives in Wellington, Wellington City Council, (708 KB, .PDF)
- What to plant at your place, Greater Wellington Regional Council
- Canterbury native plants by area, Department of Conservation
- Native plant communities of the Canterbury Plains, Department of Conservation
- Motukaraka conservation nursery, Department of Conservation
- Streamside planting - Christchurch City & Lowland Canterbury, Christchurch City Council (888KB, .PDF)
- Marlborough eco-sourcing information, Marlborough District Council
- North Marlborough planting and restoration guide, Marlborough District Council
- South Marlborough planting and restoration guide, Marlborough District Council
- Southland community nursery
- Southland riparian planting and management fact sheets, Environment Southland
- Southland wetland planting and management fact sheets, Environment Southland