Australian Natives

Australian native plants are extraordinary. Their buds, blooms, seedpods, bark and leaf textures are unique and this diversity ensures no matter where you live and garden, you will find species adapted to your climate and soil type. Choose a variety of native plants to achieve a year-round, sequence of blooms and create wildlife habitat to bring your garden to life.

Some people delight in planting gardens entirely with native plants. Others go further by choosing only those native plants that are endemic or grow naturally in their local area.

But if you prefer an eclectic mix, it is possible to combine native and exotic plants by choosing species that have similar climate, soil and water requirements. The key is to marry foliage texture, plant form and colour into a cohesive look where plants complement one another or occasionally provide a striking contrast.

Enhance traditional flower beds, cottage gardens and rockery plantings with bulbine lilies (Bulbine bulbosa), Swan River daisies (Brachyscome iberidifolia), straw flowers and paper daisies (Xerochrysum bracteatum and Rhodanthe chlorocephala).

Clip dwarf lilypillies or westringia into hedges and combined with more traditional, formal garden exotics like camellias, gardenias and azaleas. Mix grevilleas and banksias with their south African cousins like protea and leucospermum or combine local and exotic rainforest species.

Growing conditions

Aspect Aussie natives require different aspects within the garden. The key to pick a plant that will suit a particular spot within your garden is to look around your local neighbourhood to see what grows well. If you don’t know the name of a plant you like, take a photo, and take it to your local hardware or garden centre. The staff can tell you the name of the plant and its ideal position in the garden. They can also give you advice on other Aussie natives that will do well in your location.

Most natives will require full sun, so plant in north, north-east or west-facing positions that have the most available sunlight. Some natives can grow in dry shade These include Dianella longifolia, Lomandra longifolia, Acacia cognata or Callistemon ‘Genoa Glory’.

Soil Good gardeners know all plants benefit from care. Nourish the soil prior to planting by adding your own compost or mix Seasol Garden Soil Mix into the soil. Water plants in with Seasol to prevent transplant shock and aid establishment.

Climate Australian natives occur over a wide variety of climates and soil types, allowing them to become naturally adapted to local conditions. They cope with both cold and extreme heat, tolerating everything from medium frost in southern and inland regions through to flooding rain and temporary waterlogging in the tropics. You will find a great choice of varieties in hardware and garden centres to suit your location and climatic conditions.

General Care

Watering Not all native plants are drought tolerant and those that are, only achieve this status when they are well-established. Check new plantings regularly and water as required to keep the soil moist. Depending on the planting season, soil type and plant size, you may need to water several times a week in the first month following planting.

Gradually reduce watering frequency over the first three months. Established plants benefit from increased water and nutrients leading up to flowering and when new growth is produced after pruning. Mulch the soil and remember that even drought tolerant plants will benefit from occasional, deep watering during extended hot, dry periods if you are keen to keep them looking their best.

Feeding and Mulching Good nutrition supports growth, flowering, and plant health. Many Australian natives such as members of the Proteaceae family and banksia, grevillea and hakea species, are phosphorous-sensitive and require a fertiliser low in phosphorous such as PowerFeed with Troforte Plant Food All Purpose including Natives and liquid PowerFeed Plant Food All Purpose including Natives.  Mulch plants with a coarse wood chip mulch especially recycled bark, eucalyptus mulch and pine bark mulch, as it promotes microorganism activity in the soil, keeps the roots cool and retains soil moisture

Pruning Tip prune young plants to improve their shape and form. Remove dead flower heads to encourage repeat blooming on grevilleas and other plants that flower on new growth. It is safe to trim all healthy native plants by up to one third after peak blooming to encourage new growth and a neat plant habit. Remove dead, twiggy, or broken branches whenever they occur.

Watch out Different pests and diseases will affect different varieties of Aussie natives. Plants that are well-grown and healthy will be less susceptible to pest and disease attack.

  • Callistemon tip borer New leaves that appear to be stuck together may be hiding caterpillars of the callistemon tip borer. Control outbreaks by pruning off the affected growth. (See control below)
  • Sawfly larvae These pests are obvious as clusters of ugly, writhing grubs that feed on the foliage. (See control below)
  • Scale These sucking insects may be found on stems and the undersides of leaves, particularly following long dry periods. Black sooty mold is a black powdery fungus that feeds off the sugar excretion produced by these and other sucking pests. It affects a plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis, weakening the plant. Fortunately, it will disappear over time as the pest insects are controlled. (See control below)
  • Callistemon tip borer and other caterpillars; sawfly larvae; scale and other sucking insects can be controlled with EarthCare Natural Pyrethrum Insect Spray. EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil and insect spray or EarthCare White Oil insect spray may also be used, but avoid spraying on native plants with fine foliage as burning may occur.
  • Myrtle rust Native plants from the Myrtaceae family including eucalyptus, bottlebrush, melaleuca and others are potentially susceptible to myrtle rust. Speak to staff at your local nursery about the most suitable, disease resistant varieties for your region.
  • Psyllids Look for pimples on the leaves of lilly pillys and eucalyptus. They damage plants by sucking the sap out of plants between mid-spring and early autumn. Prune affected foliage and choose psyllid resistant varieties.
  • Root rot This occurs when water builds up around the plant’s roots, particularly in heavy clay that doesn’t drain well. Signs of root rot include yellowing leaves and wilting, and eventually the death of the plant. Speak to staff at your local nursery or hardware store about natives adapted to your soil type.