Most Reliable Landscape Plants

As a landscape architect or designer, don’t you hate it when you get excited about a plant but then it fails to thrive in your landscapes? It might take more than a year for the signs of struggle to become apparent, and by then, you may have specified the plant in multiple landscapes.

It reflects poorly on your studio, it’s bad for business, and it’s just a major bummer because you got into this game to make landscapes that function as they’re supposed to – not plant graveyards.

In this article, we’re going to explore 16 of the most reliable native and non-native landscape plants known to humankind. These are plants that thrive in a variety of soils with drought, flooding, frost, humidity, coastal conditions, and/or inland conditions. As long as the roots end up in the ground and the shoots end up in the air, you can’t go wrong with these cultivated varieties.

Reliable Native Landscape Plants

Grey Box™ Westringia (Westringia fruticosa ‘WES04’ PBR)

Native Australian hedge

Survivability: Grey Box™ Westringia is a drought-tolerant variety, making it exceptionally reliable in arid conditions where water conservation is paramount. It’s also tolerant of wet feet, making it one of the only westringias suitable for bioswales which have to deal with periodic flooding and drought. Its adaptability is further demonstrated by its tolerance to frost, allowing it to survive in cooler climates without significant maintenance. This plant can tolerate just about any soil type, from light sands to heavy clays.

Functions: With its compact form, growing 30 – 45cm high and wide unpruned, it’s a wonderful native Buxus alternative. It can serve beautifully as a low hedge along pathways or be left unpruned to maintain its natural shape. Additionally, its grey foliage and white flowers from September to May offer year-round visual interest.

Mundi™ Westringia fruticosa ‘WES05’ PBR

Survivability: Mundi™ Westringia is heralded for its robust nature, making it an excellent candidate for landscapes that need to endure and thrive under challenging conditions. Like Grey Box Westringia, this variety is tolerant of both drought and flooding. It also demonstrates resilience in a variety of soil types, from sandy to well-drained clay soils, giving you another option when you aren’t confident in a site’s soil quality. The plant’s tolerance to cold adds another layer to its hardiness, although it prefers shelter from heavy frost, especially in the ACT. This combination of traits ensures that Mundi™ Westringia can thrive with minimal care, making it a reliable choice for landscapes subjected to tough conditions.

Function: On the functional side, Mundi™ Westringia serves as an exceptional ground cover plant. Its growth habit, reaching 40-50cm in height and spreading up to 1.5m wide, allows it to cover large areas effectively, creating a dense blanket of foliage that can suppress weeds and reduce soil erosion—key factors in its utility in mass plantings and low-maintenance gardens. Notably, Mundi™ can be left unpruned while still maintaining a tidy form, or it can be shaped into any low-growing architectural form, offering flexibility in design use. Its masses of white flowers contribute not only to its aesthetic appeal but also support local biodiversity by attracting pollinators. The plant’s suitability for a broad spectrum of landscape applications, from tough roadsides to decorative low-maintenance gardens, combined with its easy care requirements, positions Mundi™ Westringia as a versatile and dependable choice for landscape architects aiming to create resilient, attractive, and eco-friendly spaces.

Slim™ Callistemon viminalis ‘CV01’ PBR

callistemon australia

Survivability: Slim™ Callistemon exhibits exceptional resilience across several fronts that make it another dependable choice for challenging environments. Its ability to withstand temperatures down to -6 degrees Celsius without succumbing to leaf burn is particularly noteworthy, affording it excellent survivability in frost-prone regions. Additionally, its drought, flooding, humidity and frost tolerance empower it to thrive under conditions that would be taxing for less hardy plants. Slim™ Callistemon’s adaptability extends to soil types as well, capable of growing in most conditions without the need for soil modification, reducing landscaping costs.

Function: Functionally, Slim™ Callistemon shines in its narrow columnar growth habit, reaching 3 meters in height but only spreading to 1.3 meters wide, making it an ideal plant for tight spaces where a narrower footprint is essential. This compact growth allows it to serve effectively as a hedge or screen, providing privacy or wind protection without overwhelming the space. Its extended flowering period, producing vibrant bottlebrush flowers from spring and again in autumn, not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of any garden but also supports local biodiversity by attracting pollinators—a crucial aspect of sustainable landscape design.

Macarthur™ Callistemon viminalis ‘LC01’ PBR

Hedges for Clay Soil

 Survivability: Macarthur™ Callistemon is a robust addition to any landscape, marrying the resilience of two popular varieties, Little John and Captain Cook, into a singularly impressive plant. It thrives in both full sun and part shade, tolerates most soil conditions, is tolerance to both frost and drought conditions, as well as periodic flooding and drought.

Function: Boasting superior flower presentation compared to its parent varieties, Macarthur™ Callistemon has a mature size reaching 1.8m in height and 1.5m in width. It’s perfectly suited as a medium-sized shrub for hedges or as an individual feature plant that adds colour and texture to garden beds. Its fresh green-toned foliage and bushy, tidy growth habit contribute significantly to its aesthetic appeal, while its responsiveness to pruning after flowering means it’s forgiving of under-skilled maintenance operators.

Better John™ Callistemon viminalis ‘Better John’ PBR

Better John

Survivability: Better John™ Callistemon represents an advancement in plant breeding, resulting in a shrub that exhibits superior hardiness and adaptability to Little John. This variety has been specifically developed to offer improved cold tolerance, ensuring its survival and continued flourish in cooler climates where frost may otherwise pose a significant threat to less hardy species. Its robustness is further demonstrated by its drought resistance, allowing it to thrive in arid conditions with minimal water requirements. It’s another flood-tolerant option perfect for bioswales, as well. Better John™ Callistemon is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, making it suitable for various landscape applications without the need for extensive soil preparation.

Function: Functionally, Better John™ Callistemon offers a low-maintenance plant that establishes quicker than other varieties. The plant produces bright red flowers from spring through to autumn, providing a long-lasting display of colour that can enhance the aesthetic appeal of any landscape design. Its dense foliage and bushy habit make it ideal for use as a low-to-mid-sized hedge at a max height of 1.2m. While it does establish quickly, it’s still a variety that requires less pruning as it doesn’t grow as quickly as other options.

Green John™ Callistemon viminalis ‘LJ23’ PBR

Green John

Survivability: Green John™ Callistemon can tolerate wet, drought and cold positions across Australia, from Queensland down to Tasmania and across to South Australia and Western Australia. This hardiness ensures that, once established, Green John™ Callistemon can thrive with minimal help, making it ideal for landscapes where low maintenance is a priority. Furthermore, its adaptability to a range of soil types, from sandy to heavy clays enables it to establish well in diverse settings, including challenging roadside conditions where it may not reach its full height potential but will still perform robustly.

Function: Green John™ Callistemon brings aesthetic and functional value to landscape designs. It is distinguished by its light green new growth, which offers a striking contrast against the mature dark green foliage and vivid red flowers. With a growth potential of 60cm to 1m in height and 60cm in width, it serves excellently as both a specimen and contrast planting. This versatile shrub can be left to grow into a natural shape with pruning every 3-4 years, or maintained as a tidy hedge with biennial pruning. Its faster establishment compared to older varieties like Little John mean that landscape architects can achieve desired outcomes more quickly.

Aussie Flat Bush™ Rhagodia spinescens ‘SAB01’ PBR

Aussie Flat Fush

Survivability: Aussie Flat Bush™ salt bush showcases remarkable adaptability and resilience, making it a sterling choice for landscape architects in search of reliable plant varieties. Its capacity to thrive in both inland and coastal situations speaks to its versatile nature, able to tolerate the diverse climates found across mainland states of Australia. This plant’s robustness is further underscored by its high drought tolerance, enabling it to survive and maintain vigour in low rainfall areas as well as in those receiving higher precipitation. Additionally, Aussie Flat Bush™ Rhagodia can withstand frost to -5° Celsius, allowing it to persist through cold spells with minimal impact on its health or appearance.

Function: Functionally, Aussie Flat Bush™ Rhagodia excels as a ground cover, offering a compact and low-growing solution that is ideal for covering extensive areas with minimal maintenance. Its blue foliage presents a visually arresting aesthetic, especially when used in mass plantings, yet it retains the versatility to stand out as a specimen plant within garden designs. For roadsides, slopes, commercial, and residential landscapes, this plant provides an effective and attractive ground cover option that is not only easy to care for but also environmentally sustainable. Its ability to perform optimally with annual pruning, or even less frequently in less manicured settings, ensures that landscape architects can depend on this plant to meet various design needs with ease.

Pink Fusion™ Scaevola spp. ‘PFS200’ PBR Intended

Pink fusion scaevola

Survivability: Pink Fusion™ Scaevola is distinguished by its extraordinary resilience and capacity to thrive under harsh conditions, establishing it as a highly reliable choice for landscape architects. Its proven longevity, with the initial plantings demonstrating robust health and vigour 11 years later, even in poor, heavy roadside soils, underscores its ability to endure with minimal maintenance. This variety’s adaptability is further evidenced by its performance in both drought conditions and the extreme wet of the east coast. Bred from a species accustomed to harsh Australian climates, Pink Fusion™ Scaevola exhibits a more compact and tighter growth habit, reducing the need for frequent pruning and simplifying maintenance.

Function: In terms of functionality, Pink Fusion™ excels as a ground cover, presenting a lush carpet of compact green foliage adorned with stunning pink fan flowers for most of the year. Its dense growth not only adds aesthetic value but also serves a practical purpose by inhibiting weed infiltration, thereby easing landscape management efforts. The plant’s ultra-low growing nature, reaching up to 30 cm in height with a spread of 1.2 metres in favourable soils (and 80 cm in poorer soils), makes it an ideal choice for front-of-border placements or as a mass planting solution, offering visual continuity and ground-level interest. Suitable for a variety of settings, from mass landscape installations to cottage gardens, its frost, drought, and semi wet feet tolerance make Pink Fusion™ Scaevola a versatile and attractive option for designing resilient, low-maintenance landscapes.

Yareena™ Myoporum parvifolium ‘PARV01’ PBR


Survivability: Yareena™ Myoporum has exceptional durability and ability to weather challenging conditions, making it a prime selection for landscape architects. Its remarkable drought and frost tolerance signifies that it can survive and flourish in environments that would be harsh or even hostile to less resilient plants. This variety has been proven successful in a wide spectrum of soils, ranging from sandy to heavy clay. The combination of its thick, woody stems and dense coverage provides a strong foundation for longevity, enabling it to outlast many alternatives.

Function: From a functional perspective, Yareena™ Myoporum excels as an outstanding ground cover solution. It achieves a height of approximately 10cm and can spread up to 1m wide, offering extensive coverage that is ideal for large areas needing vegetation with minimal elevation. This plant’s ability to thrive in full sun to part shade and its suitability for coastal positions make it incredibly versatile for various landscape designs. The crisp, clean foliage coupled with masses of white flowers adds visual appeal throughout the year, enhancing the aesthetic value and pollination resources of any space it occupies.

Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra hystrix ‘LHWP’ PBR

tropic cascade

Survivability: Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra’s ability to handle periods of wet feet and its survival in temperatures as low as -4°C make it suitable for a broad range of environmental conditions. The plant thrives in full sun to moderate shade, adapts to most soil types, and prefers moist conditions, although it tolerates periodic drought and inundation.

Function: Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra has been shown to strengthen the soil by 159%, making it a strong erosion control plant. With beautifully weeping foliage and a more compact form, Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra offers aesthetic appeal alongside its practical advantages. Reaching sizes of 60-80cm both in height and width, it maintains a smaller height if cut back every 3-4 years, allowing for versatility in design planning. Its suitability for specimen or mass plantings in public, residential and commercial settings makes it a versatile option for different contexts. Its large, fragrant yellow male flowers, which do not produce seed, eliminate concerns regarding invasiveness and uncontrolled spreading, a significant advantage in sustainable landscape design.

Little Jess™ Dianella caerulea ‘DCMP01’ PBR

Dianella for Your Landscape

Survivability: Little Jess™ Dianella has superior drought tolerance, even exceeding that of other Dianella caerulea varieties. This makes Little Jess™ Dianella particularly suitable for regions prone to dry spells, providing sustained aesthetic appeal with minimal irrigation. Furthermore, its ability to withstand both frost and humidity broadens its applicability across various climatic zones, from temperate to subtropical environments. The plant’s adaptability to a wide range of soil types, excluding only the poorest soils, gives you some buffer room when specifying plants for soils that haven’t been tested.

Function: Little Jess™ Dianella offers a compact, clumping growth habit, which is both a functional and aesthetic asset. Standing at 40cm high and wide, its short canes become lost beneath the foliage after blooming, reducing the need for dead heading. This minimises maintenance efforts, requiring trimming approximately every 8 years or more frequently for aesthetic purposes. From September to November, it produces masses of purple flowers, adding seasonal interest and colour contrast against its green foliage.

Reliable Non-Native (Exotic) Landscape Plants

Bingo Blue™ Agapanthus hybrid ‘ANDbin’ PBR

Bingo Blue

Survivability: Bingo Blue™ Agapanthus’s robust nature is highlighted by its ability to flower for prolonged periods, with a primary bloom from October to November and sporadic flowering throughout the year, ensuring visual interest across seasons. This variety showcases excellent disease resistance, which is vital for maintaining plant health without the need for frequent intervention. Furthermore, its toughness is compounded by drought and frost tolerance, enabling it to withstand adverse weather conditions without significant detriment to growth or appearance. Adapted to thrive in various Australian climates, from South QLD to WA, including cooler regions such as TAS and SA, this plant’s versatility in different environmental contexts underscores its reliability.

Function: Functionally, Bingo Blue™ Agapanthus presents a compact form, reaching 40cm in height and 60cm in width, with flower spikes extending to 60-80cm. This size makes it ideal for a variety of uses in landscape design, including garden beds, borders, patio pots, and planter boxes. The bright blue flowers contribute significantly to the aesthetic value of landscape projects, offering a splash of colour that can enhance the visual appeal of garden designs. Positioned in full sun to part shade, Bingo Blue™ Agapanthus adapts well to most soil types but thrives particularly in rich well-draining soils. The care requirements are low, focused on initial watering until establishment and optional use of slow-release fertiliser in spring for optimal flowering. The plant looks best with seasonal dead-heading of spent flower umbels, although you don’t need to worry about seeds setting as they are low in virility.

Double Gold™ Gazania hybrid ‘GT20’ PBR

Double Gold

Survivability: Double Gold™ Gazania is a stellar example of resilience and adaptability, qualities that make it an asset in landscape design. Its robustness is further demonstrated by its tolerance of both frost and drought conditions, enabling it to thrive in a range of Australian climates from NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA to parts of QLD (excluding northern QLD where it may not be suited due to the tropical climate). It doesn’t mind heavy clays or free-draining soils.

Function: One of the key features of this plant is its sterility, meaning it will not produce any seed and will not cross with nearby gazanias. This characteristic addresses one of the major concerns associated with gazanias in general – their potential for invasiveness. By being sterile, Double Gold™ Gazania stays confined to its designated area, making it a responsible choice for ecological planting schemes. Additionally, this variety is noted for its ability to establish quickly, providing rapid ground coverage which is essential in new developments or when seeking to stabilise soil swiftly. Double Gold™ Gazania produces twice the amount of flowers compared with normal Gazania varieties. The vibrant yellow blooms appear for most of the year, creating a striking visual impact in mass plantings, rockeries, and along roadsides.

Cosmic Pink™ Rhaphiolepis indica ‘RAPH02’ PBR and Cosmic White™ Rhaphiolepis indica ‘RAPH01’ PBR

Cosmic Pink

Survivability: Cosmic Pink™ and Cosmic White™ Rhaphiolepis are both capable of tolerating extreme weather conditions including frost, drought, flooding, and coastal conditions without significant detriment to their health or aesthetic appeal. They’re tolerant of most soil types, including the heaviest clays, meaning you don’t need to worry about positions with poor soils. Additionally, their low tendency to produce seeds minimises the risk of unwanted spread, addressing common concerns associated with sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Function: Other than the colour of their blooms, the main difference between these two cultivars is their mature size. Cosmic Pink™ Rhaphiolepis grows to 50-80cm high and wide, while Cosmic White™ Rhaphiolepis grows to 1.5-2m wide x 1.5m high. They produce larger, more abundant flowers than the common form throughout spring and summer which feed our native pollinators when they need help the most. Whether used as a singular focal point, in mass plantings for impactful colour, or in conjunction with contrasting plants, you can’t go wrong with these two winners. The plants’ water efficiency make them particularly suitable for gardens and landscapes looking to reduce maintenance needs and environmental impact.

Isabella® Liriope muscari ‘LIRF’ PBR


Survivability: Isabella® Liriope performs well in full sun exposure, where it outperforms Mondo grass. It also has 90% shade tolerance, impressive drought and frost tolerance, as well as an adaptability in just about any soil type. Such characteristics ensure that Isabella® Liriope can adapt to and flourish within diverse Australian climates, from the cold of Tasmania to the humidity of Queensland, providing a dependable option for a multitude of landscape designs. Additionally, its ability to recover from damage swiftly means that it maintains its visual appeal and functional utility with minimal intervention, making it perfect for high traffic areas around shopping centres and playgrounds.

Function: This variety serves brilliantly as both a lawn alternative and a garden border, thanks to its compact spreading habit and beautiful pink flowers. For landscape architects seeking a visually appealing, low-maintenance ground cover, Isabella® Liriope offers an excellent solution. It achieves a height of 40cm and a width of 50cm, or 15-20cm high by 20-30cm wide when mown once a year, providing flexibility in application based on aesthetic and functional needs.


Unless you’re designing for a site that has absolutely perfect conditions, and you can guarantee they’ll stay consistent over the decades, it’s time to let go of plants that aren’t performing within your landscapes. Instead, focus on this core group of the most reliable plants you can specify.

Sure, there may still be space for experimentation and for high-maintenance plants as long as they’re in the right place for the right reason and have the budget for the right aftercare. But for the majority of landscapes, you may wish to focus on plants you can rely on to perform even if the conditions are tough.

Previous Post
Best Plants for Mass Planting
Next Post
Best Ground Covers for Landscape Design