Do you enjoy gardening? Are you a plant mum or dad? Or do you just love botany? If so, this article is for you! Native gardening is an extremely important practice and there is a plethora of native and indigenous species that Australia has to offer. To be exact, Australia is home to over 24,000 species of plant. Here is why you should get to ripping out all your old exotic plants and replacing them with one of these 24,000 plants (composting them afterwards of course…)
What are indigenous plants?
Firstly, let’s discuss the difference between “native” and “indigenous” plants. “Native” is a broad term that covers all plants which originate in Australia. “Indigenous” not only refers to those that are native, but those that occur naturally within your local area. These are specific plants which are well-adapted to the conditions and ecosystems of localities within Australia and will thrive under these conditions. Not only do these plants grow best in these environments, but also provide habitat, shelter and food for local wildlife which is a necessity at the moment following the mass elimination of local fauna due to bushfires.
As discussed above, native gardens encourage the growth of local fauna as they provide habitat, shelter, and food. This includes a variety of native bees, birds, insects, small mammals like possums and koalas, as well as reptiles. If you are looking to extend the habitats of such animals, consider planting a range of species which provide different food sources such as flowers for nectar-feeding birds and fruit for possums. These plants also grow with little trouble in the Australian climate. They do not require fertilisers and pesticides which contain phosphorous and nitrogen compounds that can end up in waterways, promoting a healthier environment. Furthermore, they are extremely resilient, drought tolerant, and hardy plants – being able to survive on less water than most exotic plants. This is definitely a pro if you are a bit of a serial plant killer. Lastly, there are thousands of plants to choose from which have quite stunning, unique, aesthetic features and a range of colours which will pop in your garden.
There are a few key species and native plants that a gardener should be aware of. These include:
- Australian Daisy: mauve, white and blue flowers that prefer well-drained soil in full sun or half-sun
- Banksia: cylindrical flowers (yellow, orange, red and white) that grow as ground covers, shrubs, and trees that attract bees and birds. Full sun with well-drained, sandy soil
- Bottlebrush: low maintenance fast growing shrub that produces iconic red cylinders preferring well-drained soil and full sun
- Grevilleas: 350 known species grown all over Australia. Perfect for screening and attract bees and birds – require well-drained soil and full sun
- Waratahs: fiery red blooms and the floral emblem of NSW and required very well-drained soil
- Pigface: tough drought-tolerant succulent that bloom bright magenta flowers and thrives in all soil types
- Cycad (Macrozamia): full, short, lush palm-like plants which their dependence on sun exposure is determined by their size, larger preferring full sun
- Wattle: fast-growing trees with golden fluffballs. They are hardy plants and the national flower of Australia
Where do I get indigenous plants?
These are all popular or well-known native species but again it is important to conduct research into the indigenous species of your local area. This is because these species thrive in local conditions as well as provide habitat, shelter, and food for wildlife in your specific area. Local councils list indigenous species on their website as well as link local nurseries that grow and sell these species.
In conclusion, there are many benefits to planting native species including providing habits for local wildlife, water conservation, environmental safety, and greater plant resilience. So will you make the switch to native gardening?