When it comes to their growth, not all plants are the same. Some plants are fussy if the soil, climate, and care are not right. Others take a more relaxed approach and do their best no matter where, when, or how they were planted. These plants are considered ‘bulletproof’ and can be a starting point for a simple-care garden.
Bulletproof plants are immune to disease and pest problems. They also have a high tolerance for extreme soil conditions, such as dry and wet. They can also tolerate heat and cold. Bulletproof plants can also quickly establish strong roots, which is part and parcel of their survival strategy.
A plant that is too bulletproof can become a weed. You want to work in a garden and not become weedy. Choose plants that aren’t prolific, won’t spread by the rhizomes, and won’t become invasive.
Where to look
There are bulletproof plants in your area. You can find plants that survive in neglected gardens or thrive in harsh surroundings like a roundabout plant near a fence, footpath or car park.
If you cannot identify the plant, contact your local council or garden centre for assistance. Experts should be able to identify the species and genus, and the cultivar. You can also use state-of-the-art apps to identify plants.
One word of caution: Even bulletproof plants can take a hit when moving outside their comfort zone. Poorly drained soils, extremes in cold and heat, salt spray, and other factors can all take their toll. Poor planting and poor post-planting care can all lead to plant failure.
One plant breeder discovered a variety of bulletproof varieties after spending time in several neglected gardens and landscapes searching for bulletproof plants. These plants are sold by Ozbreed and can be used as groundcovers or massed shrubs to add colour and seasonal interest to the garden.
Groundcover and accent plants
Groundcover and clumping plants are not only useful for filling in gaps but also help to suppress weeds. You must choose plants that are easy to grow if you want a low-maintenance area. These plants are low-maintenance and require little maintenance.
Gazanias rank high on the bulletproof groundcovers list. These groundcovers can survive in the hottest and driest areas, such as beside driveways or embankments. Double gold(TM), gazania is a sterile variety that will not become weedy.
Agapanthus plants can also be grown without much fuss. The Queen Mum (TM), blue and white agapanthus, and the Cloudy Day are low-seed-yielding varieties that produce little or no seed but still flower well. Lomandra is another bulletproof option. Tanika (r) Salamandra has the best drought tolerance, while compact Shara (TM) Salamandra can handle both drought and wet feet.
Native Dianella is easy to mass in one sweep. There are many forms of Dianella, but Revelation (r) and Tired (r) are the most popular. Tasted(r), Dianella performs well in the cooler, less humid south. You can rely on Dianella caerulea varieties sold under Little Jess (TM) and Lucia_(TM) brands.
You may have seen a native succulent called Carpobrotus, commonly known as pigface. It can be found on the sandbanks leading to the beach. It is a fleshy plant with large pinky-purple flowers, especially in spring and fall. It is well-suited for coastal gardens and can be used in extreme locations as a groundcover. It would be best if you are looking for the Australian Rambler(TM), which has larger flowers and is better able to handle sandy and heavy soils.
Shrubs are great for accents, screens and hedges
It would help if you had reliable plants that grow well in a mass planting situation, such as a hedge or screen. The name varieties of any plant will show consistent growth and colour and reach a certain size. You can reduce the need to prune by choosing a cultivar that grows to your desired height.
Indian hawthorn, Rhiolepis Indica, is one of the strongest plants. The tough, evergreen plant is characterized by its shiny leaves and beautiful spring flowers that resemble an apple blossom. You can grow it as a hedge or as one individual in a pot. Indian hawthorn is a good choice if you want a plant that can withstand sun, shade, salt spray and heat. The Cosmic Yellow(TM), and Cosmic Red(TM), forms grow to approximately 50-150 cm high and wide. They produce little fruit, so don’t get weedy.
Various evergreen native plants, including westering, bottlebrush and Lilly pilly, have been chosen for their use as hedges and screens in recent years. These plants are known for their interesting foliage and long-lasting, colourful flowers. The lillypillies have decorative fruits. They are all happy to be pruned.
A Lilly pilly is a native screen that can be used to create windbreaks up to 3-6m. It includes Red Head(TM), Acmena smithii BWNRED’ PBR, which has vibrant red-brown new leaves, small white flowers, and purple berries. You can cut it back to 1.5m or leave it to grow to its mature height of 6m. You need a reliable and long-lasting plant that can withstand windswept or sun-baked conditions, such as the dense Callistemon. This is a form that will flower for many years.
Callistemon viminalis is a compact hedge that produces flowers. It’s also available as Better John(TM). The blue-green leaves look great all year, but the red bottlebrush blooms add interest in spring. Better John(TM), Callistemon can grow 60-120cm in height and 60-90cm across in shade or sun. This plant is easy to maintain as it has a compact form. However, you can trim it into a neat hedge every other year.
You can grow a tall hedge or a ball-shaped, round plant between 30-40cm in height and width with GreyBox(TM). Westringia frugal ‘WES04’ PBR. This is an alternative to traditional boxes for hedging or topiary. Like all bulletproof varieties, Grey boxes (TM) can be grown in either the ground or containers. It tolerates heat and frost and can take sun or light shade. This variety can easily be maintained at 20-30 cm high and width with regular pruning.