Be water wise part 1: Choosing water wise plants

KJ Reyland | 05 September, 2022

            Be water wise part 1: Choosing water wise plants

Right plant for the right place

One of the easiest things you can do to make your life easier, help your plants thrive and reduce the need for additional irrigation is to follow the motto - “Right plant for the right place”. 

Whether you are starting from scratch with a blank slate, making changes to an existing garden or simply planting up some pots for colour. If you choose appropriate plants for the sunlight levels and soil type, the plant is likely to thrive. 

What are your site conditions?

Don’t underestimate the importance of planning. Take a moment to assess where the plant is going. Does it receive full sun / part sun /full shade? Is your soil clay based or sandy and light? Is it going in a pot or raised bed or in the ground?  

If it is going in a pot -what material pot is it going in?  Plain terracotta is porous and will dry out faster than a glazed pot or plastic option. What size pot is it going in? The smaller the pot, the quicker it will dry out. 

If you head to a garden centre with a list of your requirements, you are setting yourself up for success and are less likely to be distracted by a pretty flower that doesn’t fit your requirements. (It’s very easy to do!!). Good garden centres should have some end use based displays ( ie hot and dry, shady spots, plants for clay soils) that can help point you in the right direction or ask for help from a staff member. 

When it comes to potted plants you need to either choose your plant (that matches the site criteria) and then select a pot that is an appropriate size and material. Alternatively if you have an existing pot you want to use, choose a plant that will thrive in the pot and grow to an appropriate size.  Most people put plants into a pot that is too small – remember that the plant you buy is not full grown! 

A plant in a pot that is too small can require watering up to twice a day to keep it alive during the hottest months. 

Why is 'right plant, right place' important? 

If the site for the plant is going to be full sun with free draining soil and you choose a plant that prefers part shade and damp soil - a hydrangea for example- in order for the plant to even somewhat thrive, it is going to need regular watering, possibly all year round. And the plant is probably still going to wilt easily especially in the hottest months.  You are essentially wasting water on a plant that is never going to be 100%. 

Contrast that with a plant that prefers full sun and free draining soil- such as a lavender-  It will need regular water while it gets established. After that, it will only need watering occasionally, during especially dry periods. It will thrive with the minimum addition of water. If you choose a plant that is ‘drought hardy’ such as a succulent, you probably won’t have to water it at all. 

Choose the right plant for the right place and you will minimise the amount of additional resources- particularly water- you will need to add for it to grow successfully. 

Plants for sunny, free draining spots 




Succulents – Aloes, echeverias, aeonium, Agave etc 

Convolvulous cneorum