How to Grow an Australian Native Garden

Australian native gardens vary hugely across the Australian continent, from tropical in the north through to desert, temperate, Mediterranean and mountain regions.

This makes the scope and variety of Australian plants excellent for a host of different applications. The species as well, coming from such harsh climates and changeable environments are usually very tough and resilient species. Many of them are floral so they're decorative, fragrant, or structurally attractive feature plants.

Here's some ideas to make a garden using Australian native plants.


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    Choose a style to match your climate. The general range is from tropical, arid, Mediterranean, temperate, alpine and grassland. If you live in an area that doesn't freeze, you have a large advantage as the range of species will be far wider. There are still a large range of plants to go for in cold environments.
    • Scrub land type gardens should focus on thick mulch and low levels trees and shrubs. Soil need not be rich, although the tropical specimens do prefer compost. Australian soils broadly are ancient, very weak in structure, nutrient poor and generally are high in salts, so many dry scrub forest species in the inland regions grow well in sand that is little better than beach sand. The other thing is while many species tolerate and appreciate fertiliser, it is best to use sparingly.
    • Consider as well how much maintenance you wish to spend in your garden. Most Australian natives actually need very little work, but many require or benefit from occasional pruning and "deadheading" of old flowers. Many drop leaves, bark & flowers as well, so in some cases it can be a burden or an advantage.
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    Consider colour impact as well as the range of colours of leaf type in Australian natives is large. Many Australian natives often have olive green or blue-grey foliage, this is another accent characteristic that can be an advantage. Some species sport red or orange new growth and there are flowers in almost the whole colour spectrum.
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    Consider the speed of growth. Many species are also very slow growing (a result of the harsh environment they come from), but some grow quite quickly and may overcrowd existing landscapes. Some species of Australian trees are best for large open gardens.
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    Limit out species you may be allergic too, many Australian species flower en masse and release a lot of pollen. There are many times of the year in various cities that are known "hay fever" times. Some species, such as grevilleas contain pollens which can cause quite strong allergic reactions in rare cases.
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    Explore the range of options, either be looking online or visiting a local botanic garden if it has a display of Australian plants. While there are many more species than those listed, some popular ones to consider are:
    • Large Trees: Eucalypt & Ficus species (of which there is a big range), cottonwood hibiscus, native frangipani, umbrella tree.
    • Flowering small trees & shrubs: Acacias, Dwarf eucalypts, Callistemon, most Melaleuca species, Banksia, Geraldton wax, waratah, grevillea species, native frangipani.
    • Small flowering shrubs: Kangaroo paws, Sydney rock lily, boronia, leschenaultia, desert "everlastings", schoenia species.
    • Character plants: Xanthorrhoea, Alexander & other palms, tree ferns, wollemi pine, gymea lily & cycads.
    • Hedges: lilli pilli, lemon myrtle & melaleuca can make very showy hedges.
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    Plan your layout to according to the species you wish to plant and your climate. It is wise to group the same kind together to form an ecosystem more like they would experience in the wild. Dry landscape species often prefer maximum sun exposure. Shade is tolerable for many species of the forests, but several grassland species do not grow as well in shade. Most Australian plants like heat, but there are many from the Tasmania and alpine regions that tolerate frost.
    • If you are lucky enough to have a large area, planting an under canopy of tree ferns & other flowering shade plants is hauntingly evocative of some of the forests.
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    Incorporate natural features into your garden. Rocks can be very common in mountain and hilly areas but rare in coastal sand plains. Large granite stones, limestones or red desert stones are all useful to help give that feeling of Australia. You can cover existing stones with glue and colour them with sands while the glue is still wet.
    • Water features such as a creek, waterfall or pond are also great additions. Water can often be rare in the bush so many species grow around them like an oasis.
    • Dead tree logs are also characteristic features in almost all forest conditions and many support plant specimens.
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    Enjoy the best output of your garden by applying mulch each year, removing old dead flowers on shrubs or lightly pruning to encourage new growth and trimming back trees as required.


  • Read up about Australian plants. There is a huge range and most are very hardy and low maintenance.
  • Australian natives can look wild and rugged if you leaves them, but many species are used in formal settings as well

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Categories: Theme and Feature Gardens