NATIVE PLANTS – Finding the best plant for your garden

One of the joys of using native plants in your garden is that a number of them will attract wildlife. Australia is home to some unique and beautiful birds, butterflies, moths, lizards and mammals which are much admired both here and overseas. There are plants that can offer food, shelter and nesting sites to our wild friends, and it’s worth exploring this aspect when deciding on your next garden addition.

Grow a few plants or a whole garden full to create a welcoming habitat. And the wondeful thing is, a lot of plants that provide food are also beautiful. The flowers from Callistemon, Grevilleas, kangaroo paws, flowering gums and other nectar rich plants look stunning.

My website has an extensive plant database with a helpful search feature. The advanced search page has a field ‘Attracts Wildlife’, enabling you to easily find the plants that attract different types of wildlife.

Recommended Plant For This Month

To attract butterflies and pretty little moths to your garden, try our native daisies. A lovely everlasting daisy that has proven itself over time is Coronidium elatum, one of the larger growing perennial varieties with gorgeous white blooms with a bold golden centre, great for long lasting cut flowers that can be dried.

EXTREME GARDENING!!! #4 in our series

Aussie plants are tough. Really tough. They have had to develop ways of coping with a harsh climate and surviving. Extreme heat and bushfires are ever present, and this month’s EXTREME GARDENING looks at how Aussie plants can take the rough stuff when it comes to making new ones. Plants like Banksias and Callistemon have developed seed pods that can not only survive fire and heat, they will bust out the seed in response. That’s what I call tough! None of this nambny pamby handle gently powder puff seeds. Here’s how you can shove woody seed pods from plants like Banksia and Callistemon and Eucalyptus in the oven or microwave to persuade them (and I use the term persuade like those old gangster movies use it)  to give up their seeds.

A selection of woody pods, with their seeds sealed up tight inside

A selection of woody pods, with their seeds sealed up tight inside

You can put these into a warmed (lowest temperature setting) oven or on a BBQ. Depending on the season, it can take from just a few minutes to around half an hour. Or thirty seconds to a couple of minutes in a microwave. You must take care, be sure to watch them as we don’t want to start any fires! For safety sake, have a fire extinguisher close to hand.

Seeds From Woody Seed Pods Ejected After Microwaving

Seeds Ejected After Microwaving

Just look at our seed harvest! There are hundreds of potential shrubs and trees sitting on my kitchen paper. Sadly the Callistemon was not quite old enough to yield any seed. Often you can take the unopened seed capsules out after a small amount of time, and leave them on your bench. The initial heating will have done the work and they will open even away from the heat source.

If you don’t want to be quite as extreme, you can put pods or seed capsules into a paper bag and place them on your car dashboard on a sunny day. The heat there will work too. Just make sure your bag has no holes, is closed up tight and stand it upright so you don’t have your seed harvest all over your car!

Have fun collecting your own woody seed pods and grow your own Aussie tough guys.

More reading in my article on propagating Australian plants from seed.