Water-Tolerant Plantings

Water-tolerant plants play a crucial role in our passive wastewater system. Placed on the effluent field, they soak up the wastewater and through transpiration, the water evaporates from the plant’s aerial parts, reducing the amount of water in the field. 

The plants also absorb nutrients produced from the Tiger Worm’s biofiltering activities, preventing the flow of by products into the underground water table.

Water Tolerant Plants Suitable For On-site Wastewater Disposal Systems

The best plants for wet areas are those with a high transpiration rate, vigorous growth and water tolerance. Your options are not limited to native plants but since they are more accessible, they are ideal for huge wet areas.

Standard lawn grass is a proven effective high transpiration plant species in such conditions, as are a large number of other plant species seen in typical domestic gardens. If you plan on planting trees, also consider plants that prefer shade and wet soil so that the trees’ canopies won’t hinder their development.  

Consideration also needs to be given to effects of roots from plants and from trees in  particular, on wastewater distribution pipe networks/emitter lines in land application systems, prior to selection and planting of a plant or tree species.
Advice on such matters can be obtained from garden centre specialists and landscaping consultants or specialist growers such as www.kauriparknurseries.co.nz/plants-products/

The following list covers native and other plant species that are considered for planting in moist conditions, such as those associated with wastewater disposal fields. They are all tolerant or fond of moist conditions.

plants for wet areas

Plant Species


Astelia Grandis

Wide olive green leaves with a silvery sheen beneath and reddish purple midribs, the clump can be up to 2m high. It is an inhabitant of swampy ground from lowland to montane altitudes throughout the North Island and to Southern Canterbury. Preferring a damp soil, it is able to withstand permanently wet feet. 


Alocasia Nigrescens (Black Taro)

Large black green blunt arrow shaped leaves on dark purple stalks from loose clumps in damp part shaded areas.


Apodasmia Similis (Oioi)

An extremely elegant native reed with blueish green foliage with browny bract at the joins. Grows up to 1m and has a creeping rhizome. Thrives in marshlands and estuaries. Will grow in most conditions. Is very hardy.


Arthropodium Cirratum (Rengarenga Lily)

An attractive perennial plant, known as the Rengarenga Lily. A clump forming plant with drooping fleshy strap leaves. Masses of white starry flower heads throughout summer. It can grow in a wide range of conditions, including coastal and shade. Will not tolerate severe frosting.


Baumea Teretifolia

The light green rush like foliage grows up to 1m tall. As with the preceding species, it needs full sun, ample moisture and plenty of space.


Blechnum Novae Zealandiae

An attractive creeping fern with drooping fronds. New growth is always reddish. An easy to grow fern which looks most attractive when grown on a bank, or as a ground cover, provided there is ample moisture.


Carex Dispacea

This sedge is densely tufted. The narrow leaves are light green and make an attractive contrast to darker foliage. In the garden it should have a sunny or semi-shaded site. Prefers damp conditions.


Carex Dissita

An attractive sedge with an arching habit. The ribbed leaves are a fresh bright green and contrast with the very dark seed heads that are carried on the stems. It can be grown in quite shady areas, such as under trees, or in an open situation, but it requires a moist soil.


Carex Maorica

This sedge grows into upright clumps with ribbed light green leaves. The foliage is fragile and can snap easily making it an unattractive garden specimen. It is best suited to environmental plantings.


Carex Secta

This is a common plant of swampy areas throughout New Zealand. It forms large tussocks with weeping yellowish green leaves. At its best beside water, it will grow in any moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Old specimens in moist to wet sites often form thick sturdy trunks from the matted roots and old stem bases.


Carex Tenuiculmis

This species is a common plant of swampy areas it is of a reddish bronze colour and is at its best beside water. It will grow in any moist soil in the sun or semi-shade. This species does not form a trunk.


Carex Virgata

A vigorous sedge that has narrow arching bright green leaves. It is a useful species for waterside planting and very damp soils but will also grow on dry sites and in sun or semi-shade.


Carpodetus Serratus (Marble leaf)

An attractive tree with upright spreading branches, found throughout New Zealand on forest margins and stream banks. The juvenile form has tangled growth.


Cordyline Australis (Cabbage Tree)

One of NZs best known and most distinctive plants. The young tree has long narrow, mid green leaves which arise directly from a single trunk, having aneffect similar to ornamental grasses. The creamy and fragrant flowers are a stunningfeature, appearing in large densely packed panicles during late spring and summer.An excellent plant for landscaping, being suitable for group and specimen planting.


Cordyline Midnight Star

A variety of the red or maroon Cabbage Tree. A good selection for a visual impact within the garden.


Coprosma Rugosa

A tough colourful and interesting alpine shrub with very tangled bright orange new growth. Bears berries attractive to birds. Can be clipped into an interesting hedge or allowed to grow freely will become a medium sized shrub.


Coprosma Grandfolia

It is a good coloniser or shelter species tolerating a wide range of soils, and shade to full sun. Its clusters of orange/red fruits are attractive to birds, though to have fruits you may need to grow several, as coprosma plants bear flowers of only one sex.  Flowers appear in late autumn and winter, and are pale but quite conspicuous. 

up to 6m

Cyperus Ustulus

This is a plant of damper areas. It is very vigorous, growing into a clump with deep olive-green, very sharp edged leaves. The flowering stems are up to 1.2 m or more, with a ruff of leafy bracts below the spikelets. A useful plant for revegetation in wet areas, but it is generally considered to vigorous for most garden situations.


Dianella King Alfred

An attractive form of Dianella. This selected form has an ability to survive a wide range of conditions. It has a small flax like appearance.


Dianella Nigra

This is a hardy tufted plant resembling a small fine leaved flax. It grows to about 60cm high and bears insignificant flowers from late spring to summer. These are followed by the plants most ornamental feature, its berries. In the best form these are a glossy dark blue, but can vary to quite pale colours. Grows in sun or semi-shade and in a range of soil conditions. Looks good planted as a ground cover.


Elatostema Rugosum

Naturally inhabiting damp shady streamsides and gullies; it has dark stems with pinnate leaves that are rough and wrinkled and have serrated margins.
The leaves are dark bronzy green with purple tonings. An intereting foliage plant that makes a very good groundcover for a wet shady position.


Fuchsia Excorticate

The largest Fuchsia in the world. A small tree with stunning orange-brown papery bark and interesting twisted shape. Purple-red flowers early spring to summer. The edible fleshy Konini fruit from January to March is sweet and tasty. It was made into jams and desserts by early settlers. Attractive to bees. Prefers a moist soil. Deciduous. Hardy.


Hebe Stricta

Hebe stricta is an open branching shrub found throughout New Zealand. Its long narrow leaves are deep green and glossy. The white mauve-tinged flowers appear on 7-15cm spikes during summer. Pruning is important to maintain a good shape. It is also a hardy landscape plant. Depth of colour and handsome foliage places this hebe in a class of its own.


Juncus Gregiflorus

A rush of swampy areas throughout New Zealand. It grows into a tight clump 1-2m tall with bright green stems. It is ideal for revegetation of wetlands and riparian areas and is useful for damp landscaping areas.


Leptospermum Burgundy Queen (Flowering Ti Tree)

Exquisite  double flowers of deep burgundy red late winter and spring,Dark reddish bronze foliage.


Libertia Grandiflora

Larger flowered species found in damp situations. Brownish green linear leaves to90x1.5cm tapering to a point. Attractive white 3-5 cm flowers with olive or bronzekeel are carried on 90cm lightly branched stems in early summer, followed inautumn by decorative golden brown seed capsules.



Leptospermum Scoparium

It is a primary species which provides a natural habitat that allows other New Zealand native species to become established. It naturally dies out after 20-25 years. It is often found growing at the margins of a mature forest. Manuka has small narrow sharply pointed dark green leaves, and bears masses of small white or pale pink flowers from spring into early summer. It is tolerant of practically any conditions and is used in most revegetation projects nation wide.


Libertia Peregrinans

Simple but interesting plant. Sword like leavesto 25-2cm, brownish green or khakiwith well defined orange yellow midriff, tapering to a sharp point, arranged in fans.The plant is sustained by underground rhizomes from which new fans of leavesappear. Small white 3 peatlled flowers on short stems in spring, followed by bronzeyellow capsules.


Melicytus Ramiflorus

The pointed oval leaves are a bright green, with fresh growth being quite soft and an even brighter green. The bark is grayish white and becomes attractively mottled with lichens. The tiny flowers are produced abundantly in spring and are followed by numerous purple black berries. 


Phormium Tenax

The foliage is khaki green coloured and up to 3m long.  The nectar from the flowers, borne on tall slender flower stalks, is a  great attractor to native birds such as Tui. Harakeke is abundant throughout New Zealand particularly in wetland areas. Perfect for revegetation, riparian plantings, and for landscaping.


Phormium Surfer

Flax. An excellent compact dwarf clump forming perennial, producing olive green weeping leaves with bronze margins. Excellent all round garden specimen growing anywhere from dry to damp conditions. Withstands strong coastal winds and is frost hardy. Use in mass landscape with other natives.


Schefflera Digitata

The large deep green, rather soft leaves are composed of up to 9 oval leaflets arising from a singe point.  They get progressively bigger as they radiate outwards, with the biggest leaflet being up to 20cm.  The margins are finely serrated and tinged with pinkish red, as are the veins and midribs.  Large panicles of tiny greenish white flowers hang below the leaves in summer and are followed by white to purple berries.  Pate should be given a shady and sheltered position in good moist soil.  Could be used to good effect in a tropical planting or as a background plant.


Talk To Us Today

Waterflow NZ Ltd has professional Installers and Designers that cover every region of New Zealand, so where ever you are situated from the Cape to the Bluff, just call our friendly team now to find out the closest one to you.


What Others Think

“Gee I love you guys :)”

I was called this morning from Rangi to say the 6-monthly inspection is being done at 2pm today.

Your guy doing it has been held up, so he actually called to let me know.
This is never happens normally with tradie type people.

If your company ever needs someone to sell your systems up this end of the woods then give me an interview.
After my experience with all your people, I would be proud to sell it!

Kim Robson


What Others Think


“NaturalFlow system is such a basic and easy system to look after and operate. We are very pleased with it and are glad we went with the system. The grey water has certainly been great on the gardens and the black water bed once planted looks after itself. Great!”

Dennis & Marie


What Others Think

“Looks after itself”

“Back in 2008 along with our building projects we decided to go for the NaturalFlow sewage system as it didn’t require any power, on our site. We have been very impressed with the performance of this system, with very little maintenance, it basically looks after itself.
Without hesitation I would recommend the NaturalFlow system to anyone as I have had no difficulties with product or the friendly team at Waterflow NZ Ltd. 



What Others Think

“Low site impact”

Just a quick email to say a huge thank to you , ken & the team.
Stoked with the work done , the boys on the diggers did a awesome job .
Every thing was left nice & tidy , super happy !!
Xmas bonus for all !!

John Cullen