Native Plants in Autumn
It's a Sapling's Time to Shine
You know it's autumn when the leaves start changing colour. With a crispy crunch underfoot, these falling leaves will soon decorate the earth in silent splendour.
Australian native plants such as White Cedar will soon be aflush with yellow leaves, Illawarra Flame Trees and Silky Oaks will be turning red, and in Tasmania the leaves of the Fagus or Deciduous beech Nothofagus gunnii will be turning brilliant gold, red rust and every shade in between.
Now that it's April, it's going to be cooling down, raining more and the days will be getting shorter. Yet the soil is still warm from summer, and there's a good amount of sunlight. This is the perfect recipe for getting stuck into your garden to plant some natives.
Autumn is the best time to plant in temperate areas as it gives your new sapplings and shrubs time to establish themselves before the heat and dryness of next summer. There is a huge variety of natives that rival introduced plants for beauty, including flowering plants, ground covers, trees, shrubs and more.
Local native plants are great for your backyard buddies as they provide food in the form of leaves, pollen, nectar, and more. They also provide nesting sites, and somewhere to hide from predators. Local natives are hard to kill, as they are perfectly suited to where you live, and need far less water than exotic plants.
Some native plants, such as the aptly named Mozzie Blocker Leptospermum liversidgei, actually help to deter mosquitoes from your garden in summer by emitting a faint scent which we can hardly even smell.
Some great natives to plant in your garden to help your buddies include:
The familiar sights and smells of these majestic beauties are close to the hearts of many Australians. These tall trees provide food and shelter for many birds, insects, and mammals. They also provide hollows for cockatoos, parrots, gliders, possums and other buddies to nest and shelter in. It can take up to 100 years or more for eucalypts to develop tree hollows, so avoid removing any from your place if you can help it. Blue-leaved Stringy Bark, Narrow-leaved Red Ironbark and Tumbledown Gums will help feed birds like Swift Parrots.
These bright yellow wattles will light up your days when the sun has gone behind a cloud. Wattles have a strong smell which entices birds, bees, wasps and beetles. Birds love Flinders Range Wattle, which has a showy display of yellow flowers, and Sweet Wattles. The thick foliage and dark grey-green bark of Blackwood Wattles offer shelter and nesting for birds. Other great choices are Woolly Wattle, Green Wattle and Black Wattle, whose fruit and seeds feed small mammals, skinks, cockatoos and parrots.
Your backyard buddies will enjoy three course meals of fruits, seeds and nectar. Delicious! Tree hakeas, which are small trees and bushy shrubs with large, smooth woody fruits, will give many cockatoos seeds to munch on with relish. Pincushion hakeas have large red globe shaped flowers, and their easy to reach nectar catches the keen attention of wasps, who have short flat tongues. Finger Hakeas will attract little Superb Fairy-wrens. Red Pokers will feed many different kinds of honeyeaters. As a dense ground cover, hakeas also provide habitat for shy animals. They offer refuge to animals who wish to feed, rest or socialise in privacy.
These natives will soon shake off their green leaves before slipping into a costume of ferny, orange bottle brush flowers. Gushing with nectar, these flowers attract Singing Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Purple-crowned Lorikeets and Carnaby's White-tailed Black Cockatoos, who also eat the seeds.
DID YOU KNOW?
Plants that are native to one state or territory can become a weed if planted elsewhere in Australia.
Find out which plants are native to your area by asking at your local nursery, or by contacting your council. They may even have a list of local native plants on their website for you to download.