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Gardening with native plants

What is an Australian native plant? 

An Australian native plant is any plant indigenous to Australia except those identified there as naturalised. An Australian native plant also includes any hybrid or cultivar in which all parents are Australian native plants.

Why plant Australian natives? 

Whether you have an established garden or a brand new site, Australian native plants add a powerful ‘sense of place’ to our homes and parks. Australian plants are those which belong to Australia, having evolved over many millions of years in an age-old continent in relative geographic isolation. Here's why Australian plants make sense:

  • They are beautiful and unique. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some plants look prickly and dry. Understanding how plants have evolved to cope with our depleted soils and variable climate brings a new understanding of beauty. Yet there are many stunning Australian plants as shown in our plant database
  • They are uniquely adapted to our environment. Plants indigenous to NSW (that is, plants for the immediate locality) are ideally suited to the soil, climate and geography. This means more resilience to the vagaries of our weather, soils and bugs and diseases. Many of our District Groups have lists of plants that are uniquely suited to regions within NSW.
  • Many plants from across Australia can grow in NSW. Much of Australia’s flora adapts to other regions. Of course, some plants, like those exquisite Western Australian banksias and boronias are very fussy. We can grow them but it means adjusting the environment. 
  • They support biodiversity. Housing, feeding and caring for our population can be hard on the environment and the plants and animals which have lived here for millennia. Planting Australian helps regain the balance and prevents loss of species. 
  • We are conserving our unique flora and their habitats for our children and grandchildren. If we don’t care for these plants and where they grow, they’ll be gone. Many of our members grow the plants not just for the beauty and resilience, but to keep them alive for future generations. 


Our members love sharing their stories, insights and experiences with others. Recent stories about gardening with native plants include:

About garden plants

Quick links

  • Study Groups. Our parent organisation, the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) runs Study Groups, which specialise in specific plant families, plants for specific uses, plant habitats and garden design. See more information here
  • Garden Diary.  Long term members, Warren and Gloria Sheather, share regular updates on their Northern Tablelands garden, Yallaroo. More here.
  • Fauna. Here are profiles of some of the critters which inhabit our gardens. 
  • Archive. See all stories here

Designing a native garden

The Garden Design Study Group has a quarterly newsletter with many articles on different aspects of designing with native plants. Read all the newsletters here, and search using the index here.

Choosing plants for your area

Gardening can be very location-sensitive. To choose plants which will be most successful in your garden, check local resources including your local APS group, your local council and local nurseries.

Canterbury-Bankstown: The council has released a booklet for residents called Your native garden: a guide to bring native plants and animals back to your garden. Download it here (scroll down to green download link).

Sutherland: The council has an online tool, Native Plant Selector, to help residents choose local plants suitable for the location. Type your address into the tool to find what species grow naturally in your location, grouped by size of plant such as trees, shrubs, climbers, grasses, groundcovers and ferns.

Bioluminescent fungi at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, by Kevin Stokes

Interested in bioluminescent fungi? It is about this time of the year these fascinating fungi appear in the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens especially after the rain of recent times.

The fruiting bodies should be appearing soon and there are several people keeping a lookout. If any appear, walks will be organised.

For those interested I have included some images of Omphalotus nidiformis and an open source article that explores the way the fungi glow.

The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens have organised walks for the past few years although last year was abandoned because of lack of reasonably sized fruit...more

Native Terrestrial Orchids of the Hunter by Lynda McPherson

The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens is 130 hectares, much of which is pristine bushland. This expansive natural area, together with the sandy soil, is the perfect environment for native terrestrial orchids. Over 5 years, as Lynda discovered the orchids, she photographed, documented and then painted them in this lovely book, which illustrates and describes 26 species of native terrestrial orchids occurring naturally in the gardens. 

Another fascinating inclusion is the Aboriginal uses of native terrestrial orchids. Flowering times and locations are included in the book, as well as a section for new explorers to write down their own observations, whether it be flora or fauna....more

The Quest for the Flying Duck, by Jennifer Liney, South East Group

Bob Ross’ mention of the Flying Duck Orchid in the October 2018 issue of Native Plants for New South Wales reminded me of a piece I wrote some years ago for the Chefs Cap: newsletter of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden at Batemans Bay.  This is an edited version.

There are many strange, interesting and beautiful ground orchids common on the NSW south coast, but none so delightful, appealing and downright cute as Caleana major, the Flying duck orchid.

I know a lady from Dalmeny who is fascinated by Australian orchids.  She (and her husband and family) have spent many hours searching their local forests and grasslands for ground and epiphytic orchid species.  Her orchid specimens are a valuable part of the Wallace Herbarium (ERBG) collection...more

For more stories, see the archive

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Cremorne  Junction NSW 2090

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