June 2, 2023

Bloomin’ gorgeous

It’s no surprise, given our changing climate, that Australian natives are becoming increasingly popular in our gardens. If you’re looking for natives to have maximum impact in your patch, here are the varieties you need to plant now to achieve big colour results down the track.

Dampiera diversifolia

Planting natives in autumn has traditionally been the ideal time, to give the plant time to get bedded into the ground and then be ready to take full advantage of the winter rains. This approach means less maintenance for those who want a strong healthy plant to flourish, because the soil is perfectly warm to aid the establishment of a good root system over the milder autumn months.

This is essential to establishing natives because their foliage grows so quickly over spring that sometimes they will fall over in the wind if the root system hasn’t developed enough and they are not quite strong enough.

An application of a good organic liquid seaweed product at the time of planting is beneficial to promoting root growth and limiting transplant shock. A seasonal application of native fertiliser will ensure all minerals and trace elements are available for your plants in the soil.

Most people don’t think of natives when they want to add some colour into their garden, but many varieties produce an abundance of vibrant flowers throughout the year. Here are just a few hardy Australian native plants that would grow in most areas across South Australia and provide good flowering periods and colour to your garden.

The long flowering periods of natives are not only great visually for you, but also ideal for attracting local birds, bees and other insects. South Australia has a diverse range of climate, soil types and conditions, so it is essential that you ensure the native plants are suitable for your particular area and your local nursery can help with this information. So, brighten up your garden with some hardy natives this autumn and reap the rewards for most of the year.

Try these varieties:

Acacia glaucoptera

Acacia glaucoptera, a dense wing-foliaged shrub that has vibrant red new growth and yellow ball flowers from late winter to spring. This quick growing shrub will get to around 1.5m in height, to about 2.5m in width, which makes it a great alternative hedge. It will suit most soil types and the birds love them.

Adenanthos sericeus, “Woolly Bush”, a soft grey foliaged shrub growing to around 3m in height and 1.5m wide. It can be kept pruned to a low hedge and is very dense, making it perfect for screening in difficult positions. The small red flowers appear from winter to spring and attract honey eaters. A great choice for coastal planting and difficult spots.

Boronia lipstick, an evergreen, upright small shrub with delicate foliage. The pink flowers pop open in spring and are highly fragrant. They will tolerate semi-shade, but do require good drainage, which makes them excellent in pots by your front door or patio area to enjoy the fragrance. Frost resistance means they grow well in the Adelaide Hills or on the Plains too.

Chamelaucium uncinatum alba, “white wax”, an evergreen medium size shrub with narrow leaves and white flowers in spring and summer. Lots of hybrid varieties are now on the market with an array of flower colours to choose from. All varieties will tolerate dryness well and are frost resistant too, making them an excellent all-round shrub. Good drainage is recommended, so if you have heavy soil, add some gypsum to it when you plant and plant on a mound or a slope.

Correa autumn blaze

Correa autumn blaze, a low shrub with masses of small bell-shaped, orange flowers. The small, deep green foliage makes it an attractive plant that can be pruned to shape if required. A very hardy small shrub offering vibrant flowers over the cold winter months and often into spring too.

Callistemon endeavour

Callistemon endeavour, an evergreen, large shrub – or small tree – with bright pink new growth. You will notice masses of large crimson flower brushes from late spring to summer, so prune them to shape once flowering has finished to maintain a dense habit. Ideal for most soil types and conditions, which makes it a great all-rounder.

Dampiera diversifolia, a trailing or groundcover plant is ideal for a position that gets the morning sun in the garden. Intense blue flowers will open from spring to summer and are one of the only true-blue flowering plants around. Its prostrate habit makes it ideal for a hanging basket, or for growing over rockeries or retaining walls.

Eutaxia obovata

Eutaxia obovata, an evergreen, small-to-medium shrub, whose yellow and red flowers appear in masses in spring. A superb garden plant that will tolerate semi-shade.

Pandorea ruby bells

Pandorea “ruby bells”, a fast-growing climber. Its deep-red blooms have white throats and it’s a very versatile climber, which will grow in many different areas and soil types.

Tetratheca thymifolia

Tetratheca tymifolia, an evergreen, small shrub suitable for rockeries. It produces pink and mauve flowers in winter and spring, but needs well-drained soil and some shade preferred. It’s typically frost resistant.


This article first appeared in the Autumn 2023 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.

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