Lilies

Lilies make for a gorgeous display and arum lilies are a popular choice as an ornamental plant in South African gardens. Purchase the pretty arum lily zantedeschia goldilocks flower bulbs for R90.00 from Seeds for Africa and plant them in mid to late summer. 

Advantage: They do not require daily watering – keep the bulbs moist by watering them only twice a week. Their bulbs have been used for medicinal purposes for many years including healing wounds and swelling, and if you're suffering from restlessness or insomnia, keep a few lilies in your room as it will purify the air and give off a calming effect.

Fun fact: The flower has been associated with innocence and purity, and dates back to the Egyptian empire. As a result, they have graced many bridal bouquets. 

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Sunflowers

Native to America, these decorative plants are easy to grow and attract a host of garden insects like bees to the garden resulting in pollination and multiple blooms.

Advantage: Sunflower seeds are a great health booster. They are highly nutritious and contain fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, and are known to lower cholesterol levels, are high in fibre, have been said to have anti-ageing properties and stimulates hair growth.

Fun fact: The benefits of sunflower seeds are well-known, but many people don’t know that almost the complete plant is edible. Garden and Home suggests adding the sprouts and stalks to salads. The seeds can also be used to make sunflower seed milk, which is a great option for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Learn how to make it here, or view this quick tutorial: 

Lavender

Not only does it make your garden look pretty, but it also has a heavenly fragrance which is why it’s a popular choice for many gardeners. The Telegraph also listed it as the second most popular garden flower that can get your home sold in the UK.

Advantage: Lavender can be used as an insect repellent (bye-bye, mosquitoes!), has a sedative effect on the body (one study revealed it was used to increase light sleep in women) and its oil can be used to treat cuts and bruises – a first aid kit right in your garden!

This flowering herb can also withstand drought conditions and can thrive in high temperatures. Learn how to make your own lavender oil here. The L. Angustifolia ‘Blue River’ is available at selected Builders Warehouse branches. If you don’t have adequate garden space, you can simply plant them in containers and ensure they receive plenty of sunlight.

Fun fact: Lavender was used to perfume clothing during the Elizabethan era since bathing wasn’t a common practice.

Mint

This is another fragrant and versatile plant you should grow in your garden. M. aquatica (wild mint) is indigenous to South Africa. 

Advantages: Use it in salads, desserts, to garnish soups and drinks, use wild mint to treat wounds, repel ants and flies, or make a cup of refreshing mint tea (the tea is usually drunk for coughs and indigestion).

If those aren’t reason enough to grow them, then know that a sprig of mint will eliminate bad breath – no need to carry around unhealthy mint sweets anymore!

Here’s a short tutorial on making a delicious mint chocolate chip smoothie.

Jasmine

Jasmine comes in 300 different species and produces evergreen leaves. Because of its intense fragrance, the name is derived from the Persian name, Yasmin, meaning ‘a gift from God’. Jasminum multipartum is indigenous to South Africa and can withstand very low temperatures. 

Advantages: The flower is known to boost metabolism, improve blood circulation and to treat headaches. Learn how to dry the leaves here and to make yourself some jasmine tea.

Fun factJasmine has aphrodisiac qualities and is used to decorate the bride and groom’s bedroom on their wedding night in India.