NZ Palms, Cycads and Subtropical Plants

Landscaping with Coastal Palms and Plants in New Zealand.

The delightful miniture Pohutukawa, Metrosideros Tahiti.

If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast then this may just be the garden for you. Big, tough palms, flaxes and cabbage trees along with flashes of bright colour.

The native Cabbage Tree, Cordyline australis, practically compulsory planting when landscaping a coastal garden.

To create the perfect coastal garden you’re going to need tough plants that can withstand salt-spray, wind, sun, drought and whatever else nature throws at them.


Of course one can’t consider a coastal garden without several native cabbage trees and flaxes. Look for unusual varieties (wider leaves and better colouring) for a more attractive planting. A full size or smaller hybrid Metrosideros (Pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas Tree) would be a welcome addition as are tough grasses. Here you can’t beat some of the more colourful Pampas grasses.

Pampas grass is a tough plant that'll easily cope with coastal conditions.
The every-reliable Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, will be quite at home in a coastal garden.
The Canary Islands Dragon Tree, Dracaena draco, is a slow growing plant that will do well in fast draining sand.
Aloe barberae is one of a number of tough tree Aloes which suit coastal conditions.

Less common but worthy of note due to its tough grey leaves is the Palmetto Palm; either the trunking Sabal palmetto or the dwarf Sabal minor.


In areas without excessive salt-spray you might wish to try Washingtonia robusta or the Australian fan palms; Livistona australis and Livistona decipiens.


Finally, a Cardboard ‘Fern’ cycad, Zamia furfuracea, is perfectly suited to coastal conditions in warmer parts.

The familiar Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana, grows right on the beach in its native Lord Howe Island.
When given just a little protection the Jelly Palm, Butia capitata, is quite suited to growing in a coastal garden.
The Mediterranean Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis, can be found growing in exposed coastal locations in its native lands.
The delightful Senegal Date Palm, Phoenix reclinata, adapts well to cultivation in a coastal garden.
The Ribbon Fan Palm, Livistona decipiens, is another palm that easily adapts to coastal conditions.
The Cardboard Cycad, Zamia furfuracea, is a hardy plant that makes the most exotic of ground covers in a coastal garden.

© NZ Palms, Cycads and Subtropical Plants 2019

For a more exotic look add some of the larger Aloes and Agaves along with the odd Dracaena or Yucca. A coastal garden being much like their arid origins they’ll thrive here along with the Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata. A good planting of mesembryanthemum will add colour between the plants and in less windy spots plant hibiscus bushes for colour.

For coastal palm trees you’ll want species that can tolerate the elements so consider Kentia, Howea forsteriana, Jelly Palms, Butia capitata, Mediterranean Fan Palms, Chamaerops humilis and blue-grey Date Palms, Phoenix dactylifera. The clustering Senegal Date Palm, Phoenix reclinata is also rather tough and with age becomes a striking feature plant.