South African perennial garden favourites


DIY and how-to

Perennials are firm favourites in South African gardens, thanks to their beauty and resilience. Throughout season changes, these plants can offer bursts of colour, texture and form, enriching your outdoor spaces.

So, what are perennial plants? 

A perennial is a type of plant that lives for more than two years, regrowing from the same roots and crown annually, unlike annuals or biennials, which live for one year and two years respectively. 

Let’s delve into the realm of perennial garden favourites, exploring a diverse array of grasses, plants and shrubs that thrive in our South African soil and climate.


Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum

With its graceful arching foliage and delicate plumes of flowers, we love how fountain grass adds a touch of elegance to any garden. 

Whether planted en masse for a dramatic effect, or used as a focal point in a border, this ornamental grass captivates with its swaying movement and soft texture. It’s particularly striking when backlit by the sun, casting a golden glow over the landscape.

Blue fescue (Festuca glauca)

Perfect for adding a pop of colour to rock gardens or edging pathways, blue fescue boasts striking silvery blue foliage that remains attractive year round. 

Its compact size and low maintenance requirements make it an ideal choice for busy gardeners seeking both beauty and practicality.


Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus)

The African lily or blue lily as it’s colloquially known is a beloved South African perennial, and for good reason: those clusters of blue or white flowers are beautifully striking!

Whether planted in borders, containers or along water features, these hardy plants thrive in full sun to partial shade, adding a splash of colour to landscapes.

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

With its bold, tropical blooms resembling the plumage of a bird in flight, the bird of paradise – or strelitzia as we commonly refer to it – is a true showstopper. 

Native to our shores, this iconic perennial is often used to create dramatic focal points in gardens, or striking accents in mixed borders. Its arresting orange and blue flowers evoke the vibrant hues of sunset, making it a feature for any exotic garden theme.


Cape fuchsia (Phygelius capensis)

Featuring tubular flowers in shades of pink, red or yellow, the Cape fuchsia adds a splash of vibrant colour to gardens throughout the summer months. 

Its nectar-rich blooms are a magnet for pollinators, making it a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly landscapes. Whether grown as a standalone specimen or used to fill gaps in borders, this versatile shrub thrives in sunny or partially shaded locations.

Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis)

Boasting clusters of tubular, orange or red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, the Cape honeysuckle is a popular choice for adding a touch of tropical flair to your garden.

Its glossy, dark green foliage provides year-round interest, while its quick growth makes it well-suited for use as a hedge or screen, or even espaliered against a wall.

Practical uses for perennials

Beyond their traditional roles as ornamental plants, perennials also offer a myriad surprising and interesting uses that can elevate the functionality of any garden:

Erosion control 

Perennial grasses such as fountain grass and blue fescue are excellent choices for stabilising soil on slopes or embankments, preventing erosion while adding visual interest to the landscape.

Drought tolerance 

Many indigenous perennials, including Agapanthus and Cape fuchsia, are well adapted to thrive in arid conditions, making them ideal choices for water-wise gardens or xeriscapes.

A wildlife habitat

Perennials with nectar-rich flowers, such as Cape honeysuckle and strelitzia, attract a variety of pollinators, birds and beneficial insects, transforming gardens into ecosystems teeming with life.

To add to these handy uses, plant your perennials creatively by arranging them in vertical gardens, container gardens, rock gardens, under deciduous trees, around water features, and among your herbs and veggies. The sky’s the limit! 

Finding Your Perennial Garden Favourites:

These indigenous perennial garden favourites of South Africa offer a diverse palette of colours, textures and forms that can enhance any outdoor space. 

When it comes to sourcing these perennials, look no further than your local Stodels Garden Centre, home to all the perennials you could hope for, with the equipment and expert advice to help bring your vision to life. If you’re in the Western Cape, you can even shop online for your perennial plants. 

Happy gardening!

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