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Plant Profile: New Zealand lilac

New Zealand lilac - Heliohebe hulkeana Botanical Name: Heliohebe hulkeana (or Hebe hulkeana)

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Type: Evergreen shrub

Size: Around 50cm to 100cm in height


This unique New Zealand native grows naturally in the South Island, along the eastern banks from Marlborough to North Canterbury. Originally named Hebe hulkeana, it has now been reclassed as Heliohebe hulkeana.

It's often referred to as the 'New Zealand Lilac' due to its long, soft sprays of lavender flowers which bloom throughout spring.

Almost equally as attractive are the bronze-green, shiny leaves that flourish year-round.

The spear shaped, fleshy foliage is a great colour and texture contrast to the soft, pale flowers.

Ideal Conditions:

The New Zealand lilac grows best in well-drained soil and in a sunny postion. It requires a bit of air movement, doing well in coastal sites.

It does not like frosts, so make sure it's protected in cooler areas.


The New Zealand lilac is a fairly low maintenance plant — it doesn't require much pruning or extra watering. Simply prune its tips to keep its compact shape.

The lilac has a reputation for being extremely drought tolerant.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 2, 2004