Rise in demand for native plants


Modern garden designs tend to focus on garden walls, cactus and succulent designs but, at this time of year, the requests for native plants become more prevalent as many are in flower at this time. 

Wattles are still blooming, and Geraldton Wax is close to flowering.

My favourite natives are grevilleas, which have many advantages: they grow quickly, attract birds and their blooms are ideal as a cutting flower.

The larger flowers are borne on Honey Gem, Misty Pink, Moonlight and Sandra Gordon, which can be cut with long stems that are ideal for tall vases.

Tall growing eucalypts are rarely sought within suburban areas as their popularity has waned after hot summers and bushfires, although the smaller grafted flowering varieties are being planted. 

The only deterrent is the cost. Not a graft, Eucalyptus gunni, is a small blue-leafed variety which is great for floral arrangements.

The most popular native for today’s gardens is the Lily Pilly, which can be grown into a small tree, a hedge or even a topiary plant.

They can be prone to pysillid attack and, now, the little Calypso Beetle that cuts a serrated edge around the leaf, tricking gardeners as it looks a little like a ladybird.

These couple of problems shouldn’t be a deterrent as they grow quickly and can be controlled. 

I love Syzygium Cascade. Popular because it doesn’t grow too tall, it bears beautiful pink pom pom- like flowers and pink edible berries.

Growing in abundance in the bush is the Gymea Lily (Doryanthus excelsa). This popular native is a wonderful centrepiece with its tall erect red lily.

If you want splashes of colourful red in the garden, it is hard to go past the NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) – not to be confused with New Zealand Christmas Bush, which, in comparison, are easy to grow. 

Unfortunately, our NSW Christmas Bush can be a little difficult to grow. They like sandy soil, which is well drained with an occasional application of blood and bone. For some unknown reason, it sometimes takes the third planting to succeed.

A small native tree to this area is the Cupania or Tuckeroo – it is ideal for coastal planting, with glossy green foliage, flowers and bright yellow seed that the birds find extremely attractive.


* Deciduous and evergreens that have been planted in the wrong place can be transplanted now (never natives).

* Mulch with peat moss the surface roots of camellias and fertilize with cow manure.

* Fertilise hippeastrums ready for spring with a slow release fertiliser and a weekly drink with Flourish to promote flowering.