Get Growing

Growing native plants is rewarding and relatively easy, once you know how. Most native plants are quite easy to grow from seeds or cuttings. You could try growing native plants at your place, or make use of our facilities here at the Southland Community Nursery. Find out about the importance of collecting your seed locally (ecosourcing). See our tips for growing from seed and cuttings and find out about contract growing and whether that’s an option for your project.


Children having a go at collecting seed.Children having a go at collecting seed.Locally sourced native plants are best suited to the range of Southland conditions. They make attractive, low maintenance landscapes and bring in a wealth of native birds and wildlife.

The Southland Community Nursery is all about ecosourcing native plants. This means growing native plants from seeds or cuttings that come from parent plants that are naturally found in our area.

Planting only local species actually increases biodiversity (the variety of life) in an area. It helps retain the local differences that make each place distinctive and recognisable.

Planting trees and shrubs that are local to our area will also help reclaim and rebuild some of what we have lost in our region.

Growing from seed

The best way to produce large numbers of plants is to grow from seed. Growing from seed is fun and rewarding and less labour intensive than growing from cuttings. You’ll also preserve the genetic diversity of your area if you collect seed locally.

It’s best to collect seed from your own area, or the nearest place you can find. Find out what grows in Southland (Know your patch) and see what you can find growing near you. Check out our suggested plant lists for forest restoration projects.

Find out more about growing from seed.

Growing from cuttings

Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to grow what you want from cuttings. You could try growing from cuttings when you:

  • Want to grow a plant faster than from seed.
  • Want to grow a plant that flowers faster than a seed grown plant.
  • Want a clone of a particular species form.
  • Want a particular sex of a plant (some species, such as Coprosmas, have separate male and female plants – only female plants will produce berries).

Find out more about growing plants from cuttings.

Site preparation

The success of your planting project will depend on good site preparation. It’s important that your new plantings can grow without competition from weeds. Weeds can rob your plants of light, soil nutrients and water if they are not controlled.

Using herbicides to clear areas of grass and control weeds is often the quickest and easiest method. Make sure to carefully follow label instructions and avoid spray drift onto non-target plants.

If spraying individual planting sites, spray about one square metre. This gives your planting enough clear space around it to establish. Be careful not to over-clear your planting area. You’ll increase the amount of future work to keep the space clear and your plantings will become more attractive to animal pests like rabbits.

Find out more about site preparation and planting.

When to plant

Woodlands scouts preparing for planting.Woodlands scouts preparing for planting.Planting time in Southland is less crucial than in other drier parts of New Zealand. However, severe frosts can be a problem in mid winter.

Plant frost-hardy species in late autumn or spring (after severe frosts) while the soil is damp and cool. This allows them to establish their root system before the drying effects of summer. They are more likely to survive a dry spell in the following summer if they’ve had the previous winter and spring to establish.

Plant less frost-hardy species in early spring when frosts are less severe. They’ll still have time to establish before summer.

Put a layer of mulch around your trees to further protect them from drying out and increase their chance of survival.

Find out more about site preparation and planting.

Contract growing

The best way to produce the numbers of plants needed for a large project may be to contact us about contract growing. Talk to us about your project needs and the possibility of a contractual arrangement to produce plants at a specified number and size at a minimal unit cost.

Find out more

Contact us to find out more.