Frequently Asked Questions

6. Why do some of my Australian plants die? Shouldn't they be suited to Australian conditions?

It depends on what you define as "Australian conditions".

What constitutes "typical" Australian conditions?

The problem was more common some years ago when the cultivation of Australian plants native to all parts of the country was attempted in all other parts. This failed to recognise the fact that there are many climatic zones in Australia and that attempting to grow plants from one climatic zone in another was bound to lead to problems. While it was accepted that alpine plants would be difficult to cultivate in (say) arid areas, the effect of less obvious climatic differences was recognised mainly by bitter experience.

We now accept, for example, that plants native to areas of dry summers (such as south Western Australia) may be difficult to grow in gardens in areas of wet, humid summer conditions (such as the east coastal strip of New South Wales and Queensland). Having said that, there are many plants that adapt well to climates that are different to those of their natural habitat.

Another problem is that people tend to think of native plants as a single group, similar to Camellias, Roses or Azaleas. A visit to most general garden centres will reinforce this view, where you'll see the 'natives' all grouped together despite the fact that they are a very diverse collection spread over many different genera and species and native to varying climatic zones. Native plants are available that are as long lived as any exotic but they need to be selected so that you grow those that are suited to your local climate and soils.

The best way to select long-lived plants for your conditions is to visit specialist native plant nurseries in your area. These specialists will also have plants unsuitable for long term growing (because there is a demand for these by enthusiasts who like a challenge). However, the specialist nurseries will also have the expertise to advise on reliable plants for local conditions. We have a list of specialist nurseries here.

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