Dryland Plant Communities of the Cromwell Area

Considerations for successful planting in dryland areas

Plant Stock

  • Generally a smaller plant with a root:shoot ratio of between 1:1 and 1:3 will establish more easily.
  • This is achieved with the Hiko V150 side-slit tray and Lannen 35F tray. The plant will be 30-40cm high with a stem diameter of 3-5mm and hardened off. Shrubby plants may be topped to achieve this specification. Less problem of plants being root bound in these side slit trays.
  • Larger PB plants are more prone to dessication. No control of circling roots.

Site preparation

  • Remove all vegetation that will compete for moisture with your plant (spraying, chipping off grass layer)
  • Spraying - use a knockdown herbicide to kill rank growth. May need repeat spray. Do not remove dead grass at planting as it makes a good mulch.
  • Deep rip to break up any hard pan. This will also bring moisture up.

Planting time


  • Is there sufficient soil moisture?
  • Is there sufficient time for the root system to establish before frosts start?


  • Wait until the risk of heavy frosts is past but while there is still sufficient moisture in the soil.


  • Ensure rootballs/plugs are soaked to saturation point.
  • Select planting spot that is a slight hollow to hold moisture and/or create a slight hollow for the plant. On a slope create the hollow to capture water runoff.
  • Plant deep. Ensure that the rootball is at least 25mm beneath the surface so that moisture is not wicked out of the peat rootball.
  • Use the H cut technique to maximize soil cultivation
  • If adding fertilizer preferably use an encapsulated controlled release type whose release is mostly dictated by soil temperature.
  • Compacted Urea types rely on soil bacteria and soil moisture for release. Generally dry Central Otago soils are low on soil bacteria.
  • Tell your plant what a lovely fellow he or she is.


  • Will conserve moisture.
  • Will control weed growth.
  • Stops the soil surface from going hard so any moisture is absorbed rather than runs off.
  • Use our Combo Tree Protectors or old carpet, barkchip, weedmat with stones, woolmulch mats, the dead grass left from spraying.

Protection from furry critters

  • Use our Combo Tree Protectors, rabbit repellent

Irrigation - to use or not to use

  • Select plants that will grow in the conditions
  • Use only for establishment, unsustainable to have to water for the plant to survive long-term
  • Water regime should be deep watering to encourage deeper root development. Shallow surface watering will encourage surface root development which will leave the plant vulnerable to drying out once the irrigation is stopped.

Other matters

  • Protection from wind can be gained by artificial shelter or utilizing other plants as nurse plants eg. brier rose.
  • Water crystals- I’m not convinced of their worth


  • Weed control
  • Blanking
  • Weed control
  • Check irrigation if used
  • Weed control
  • Chat up your plants, You like it, why shouldn’t they.