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Native Plant selection – bit overwhelmed

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    I’ve got a bed about 80 metres long and 1 metre wide along my driveway which I’m preparing to plant out. The problem (as I’m sure it is for everyone) is selecting the plants.

    I think I’ll be limiting it to no more than 2 or 3 types and I’m after shrubs no more than 1 metre or so in height. I’ve got a couple of books which are pretty exhaustive, listing every species known to man, and one of them breaks the plants down into shrubs, ground covers etc. But even so, the shrub section has 200+ pages. I’ve started making a short list but there are just so many.

    I’ve been to the local nursery but they tend to only want to tell you about things they have in stock. I suppose that in itself is a short list because they’ll only stock what sells/grows in their area. But having limited space and needing to make room for the exotics and veggies as well, I guess there’s a limit to what they will have.

    So my question is, does anyone know of a resource where you can select plants by a number of factors like soil type, height, location etc. to narrow it down?

    Any other suggestions gratefully received. I’m not in a hurry, but if I have to read through 200 pages of botanical names I think it will be the end of me!


    A little bit more info will help. What direction does it face, does it get full sun, whats the wind exposure like, hows the soil?

    Another point to remember is the fertiliser requirements for natives, exotics & veggies are quite different. The high phosphorus requirement for many exotics & veggies may stunt/kill your natives and the high nitrogen requirements for some veggies will see other plants grow like the clappers and you will be ever pruning. A similar quandary with water and even direct sun. Separating your plants will help and even raising some sections to allow drainage maybe of assistance. If you grow organically then lots of compost and well rotted manures will assist a mix but you have to keep this in mind.

    80 meters is quite a distance and you will be able to grow a lot of things. My first thoughts would be to select eight 2 meter sections spread evenly along the drive for your veggies in raised beds 200 mm high. Spaced evenly in between these food growing sections/beds plant a mix of evergreen & deciduous dwarfing fruit trees leaving space for root growth and annual sprawling veggies such as small pumpkins & melons and nasturtiums. Then fill the gaps with a mix of annual exotics and evergreen natives such as Kangaroo paws or smaller Grevillias that look great, bring the birds & insects. Aggies are another option but they are weedy and there root clumps quite formidable.


    Thanks for the reply Porgey.

    I’m actually not planning on having any veggies out there – got heaps of room for them down the back and better protected from wind there. I think my comment about the local nursery only having so much space for veggies and other plants might have led you up the garden path 🙂

    The spot I’m looking to plant out is purely ornamental, so will be low shrubs and ground covers mostly. It cops a pasting from the southerly and westerly winds, as it’s on the south west side of the house and at the top of a ridge which runs north-south. Soil is heavy in most places but there are sandy patches.

    It’s shaded by the house in the early morning but will get full sun from smoko time right through until ABC news starts. We’re 3km from the ocean and we get frosts in winter.

    But I really wasn’t expecting anyone to give me a planting list. It just strikes me that if someone had the wherewithal, a web site or book that lists plants by a number of factors would be a great help to someone like me, who knows where he wants to plant, but has no idea about what sort of plants exist.

    I also had a hair-brained idea to try growing these plants from seed or cuttings. Otherwise I think it is going to cost me an arm and a leg to fill that space with plants.


    Righto. I live about 3 clicks from Bass Straight and the back of the house gets an absolute caining from the south westers and summer arvo sun. Surprisingly Kangaroo Paws seem to grow really well under the eaves in this location along with a range of prostrate Banksias, a Callistemon and a few other things that self seed.

    If you can find a clump of KPs they divide okay and will reward you with years of flowers.


    OK, will definitely check out the KPs. Also have some banksias & callistemons on the short list (got that far in the Natives book last night 🙂 ).

    We have a prostate grevillea in one of the other gardens that goes pretty well. We water them with our grey water from the on site sewerage plant and they seem to like it. Some plants do, some don’t. The ones that don’t like it die and get replaced with something that does 🙂

    I might take a photo or two of the area and post them up.


    Kangaroo paws or anything of the grassy variety will cope.

    I’ve put midyim berries in along a path that cop the wind from all directions, frost, waterlogging and 40+ degree heat here and they are growing well. I got mine from daleys fruit. They’re a native shrub with edible fruit so in my book that’s a great 2 in 1:

    These guys have heaps of bush food type shrubs etc and I’ve never had a problem with ordering from them.


    See if you can find your local indigenous nursery too (if you can’t find it check out your local councils webpage they are often listed on them). You might not want all indigenous plants but there is often a few that are tough, attractive and local worth mixing in with the showier nursery plants. They’ll often have tube stock so saves you a bit of money.


    OK thanks, a couple more things to check out there. Would have to be careful with any bush tucker plants due to the grey water though. I suppose I’ll need to jump in the car and go further afield. I know there are some other nurseries in the area that I should check out. And maybe a walk up though the bush with my camera. See if I can identify some locals.

    I know one thing, the methodical approach is not going to work. I have a page full of candidates and only up to ‘C’. Still 200 pages to go 🙁

    And I looked up Kangaroo Paw in the index and they’re in another section of book headed “Rockery Plants”. So there’s another hundred odd pages to wade through!


    Perhaps “will attract wildlife” would help you narrow the choice , if you would like to attract wildlife.


    Can never have too much of that!


    I am sort of in the same boat, but I’m just at the idea stage of wanting to plant plants that are going to survive without any watering etc once they are established (eg natives)

    What I have found is that places like the NRM Board (Natural Resource Management Board) and Trees for life, are only too happy to help people who want to conserve or help the natural environment rather than having exotic ornamental plants, I was told that if people in my area were interested in reveging areas of their land, the NRM board have people who come out and give advice depending what your requirements are eg, to out compete weeds, to attract wild life, to create wind blocks etc.

    Trees for life is an SA thing but I’m not sure if there is something similar in other states, it does take a bit of planning and time, the order needs to be in about June and you get the plants in April the next year for planting but they are either grown for you by volunteers or you can grow them yourself with everything including support provided to you, for the membership fee and a cost to cover materials. I was thinking of doing this as the cost starts to add up when you start to look at each tubestock costing about $3 at one of the local indiginous nurseries and about 50m of fence line I want to plant out, even with taking into consideration the cost of the membership and materials, it seems to be the cheap way out, and they are local to the area so should benefit the environment and grow well on their own once established Here is ome info on this scheme

    Also try the botanical gardens I have heard that a lot of them are now doing example low maintenance domestic gardens examples, showing people that they can have a cottage garden or a formal garden and still use natives, (a lot of people think bush/scrub when they hear natives)

    Other places that come to mind is landcare, conservation volunteers….even if these people arent able to help you they might know where to point you


    OK thanks, a few leads to follow up there.

    I found a guy who visits the local markets and he sells “farm tubes”. Typically they are large shrubs and trees grown from seed. He has various species for $60 for 40 plants, which is a good deal. Unfortunately he grows most of the smaller shrubs from cuttings and can’t do that price on them.

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