Plant an indigenous garden

Even if you live on a small plot, planting a garden will help to stabilise soil, prevent dust and sand blowing into your house, create shade to cool the house and provide a space for animals and plants to live – creating an ecosystem and supporting biodiversity.

However, it is important that our Cape Town gardens are filled with indigenous plants. These plants have developed with local animals over a long time in a complex system of life that we must support rather than disrupt in order to keep the huge variety of life forms in the system. In addition, local plants have
developed in Cape Town’s harsh, sandy conditions and require little supplementary watering – reducing the amount of water you need to keep your garden beautiful. 

If you live close to the Table Mountain National Park, a nature reserve or a Core Flora site it is important that you plant local, Cape Metropolitan Area (CMA), indigenous species. Plants from further away, such as Hermanus, may breed with related wild species to form hybrids and undermine conservation efforts.

Different localities in Cape Town present a variety of different growing conditions,
including rainfall, wind exposure and soil type, so one plant list will not suit everyone.

For more information on suitable species to plant in your area

Here you will find information on gardening by veld type and a list of plants for waterwise gardening.

Note that this list includes species from outside the CMA. In addition, Kirstenbosch outreach has produced a booklet called ’Greening South African Schools’ on how to create an indigenous garden, available at the Kirstenbosch Book Shop.

Some examples of local indigenous plants to consider planting in your Cape Flats garden include:


Camphor Bush (Tarchonanthus camphoratus)
Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme)
Wild Olive (Olea europaea subsp. africana)


Bietou (Chrysanthemoides monilifera)
Blombos (Metalasia muricata)
Blue Felicia (Felicia aethiopica)
Blue Salvia (Salvia chameleagnea)
Brown Salvia (Salvia africana-lutea
Cape May (Coleonema album)
Dune Crowberry (Rhus crenata)
Dune Taaibos (Rhus laevigata)
Geelblombos (Athanasia dentata)
Wild Aster (Felicia flifolia)
Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus)
Wild Malva (Pelargonium cucullatum)
Wild Scabious (Scabiosa incisa)
Wild Rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus)


Arctotis (Arctotis stoechadifolia)
Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Carpet Geranium (Geranium incanum)
Dekriet (Chondropetalum tectorum)
Glastee (Cliffortia ferruginea)
Pig’s Ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)
Sea Lavender (Limonium perigrinum)
Sour Fig (Carpobrotus edulis)

Be extremely careful not to plant any invasive alien species in your garden. Invasive alien species such as Rooikrans and Fountain Grass pose some of the greatest threats to biodiversity and also increase the risk of severe wild fires.

It is now illegal under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA) to plant invasive alien species. There are many indigenous and non-invasive alien species that may be substituted for the invasive plants in your garden.

Some examples of species that should no longer be traded and which should be actively removed from your garden include:

Port Jackson (Acacia saligna), bluegum (Eucalyptus) and pine (Pinus pinaster)
invading a fynbos area.


Crack Willow (Salix fragilis)
Manatoka (Myoporum tenuifolium)
Orange Cestrum (Cestrum aurantiacum)
Pines (e.g. Cluster Pine, Pinus pinaster)
Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum)
Wattles (e.g. Golden Wattle, Acacia


American Bramble (Rubus cuneifolius)
Hakeas (e.g. Sweet Hakea, Hakea drupacea)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Spanish Broom (Spartinum junceum)
Tickberry (Lantana camera)
Triffid Weed (Chromolaena odorata)


Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)
Patterson’s Curse (Echium vulgare)
Water plants
Red Water Fern (Azolla fliculoides)
Water Hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes)

For more on legislation on weeds and invasive plants

or contact the National Working for Water Programme head office in Cape Town on 021 441 2700.

source: SMART Living Handbook

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