To get the best possible life and performance out of your garden, it’s worth checking which climate zone you are in to see which plants tolerate your local conditions. Plants are unfortunately not “one-climate-fits-all”, and in fact can vary quite significantly in terms of their weather requirements. Australia is split into six main climate zones , and 4 of those 6 are noted by their high summer temperatures. So its worth making sure that you’re planting the right plants in the right areas. Here are some typical Australian climate characteristics, and examples of plants which are suitable for each:
Grassland and desert zones (hot dry summers)
These weather zones make up a large part of central and west Australia. Native grasses and succulents are ideal for these climate conditions.
These conditions mainly cover suburban areas which are densely populated as well as south-east and south-west costal regions. This is an ideal climate for a wide range of plants, from ferns and perennials to fruit trees.
Australia’s tropical zones are far north, including the mid-Queensland coast (sub-tropical). These areas experience heavier rainfall and humidity and are best suited to plants such as gingers, begonias and heliconias (lobster-claws).
Have you ever tried growing a plant which just doesn’t thrive? It may be due to your soil type! When planting a garden, it’s always important to consider your soil type. Soil is a very important aspect of gardening and can heavily effect the way certain plants grow. Depending on the area you live, and what has been previously done to it, soil can range heavily from very dry, sandy textures through to heavier wet clay. The three main types of soil are:
Sandy soil has the largest particles among the different types of soil. Because the soil is dry and the particles are widely spaced, it does not retail water well. Sandy soil is a quick draining soil, which can mean that plant roots don’t get the chance to absorb all necessary nutrients. However, the are plants which are perfect for sandier soils.
Here are some plants which thrive in sandy soil:
In comparison to sandy soil, silty soil has smaller particles. Silty soil is smooth to the touch when dry, and slick when wet. Silty soil is better at retaining water than sand, but has similar abilities to hold nutrients. This soil is to some extent moisture retentive and does not have the best drainage due to lack of aeration.
Here are some plants which thrive in silty soil:
- Ostrich fern
- New Zealand flax
- Cranesbill (geranium)
Clay soil has the smallest particles of the three, and has great water storage capabilities. Clay soil is not heavily aerated, and thus has a slow drain time and can hold onto nutrients for longer. Clay soil is rich in plant food. When dry, clay soil can become hard and compact, making it very difficult to work with, though it is better for the soil quality to work with it in this state.
Here are some plants which thrive in clay soil:
- Purple cornflower
- Adam’s needle (yucca)
Where you place your plants is an important garden design consideration. Certain plants thrive better in certain levels of sun exposure, some being extremely hardy and tolerant to the sun and others requiring complete shade. Full sun plants are generally lower maintenance, they’re hardier and can withstand the sun exposure. Part-shade plants typically need 2-4 hours of sun per day (varying based on the plant). While most plants require some sun to thrive, there are plants which need virtually none, these are full-shade plants.
Here are some plants which suit full-sun placement:
- Purple cornflower
- Bee balm
- Blanket flower
- Russian sage
Here are some plants which suit part-shade placement:
- Balloon flower
Here are some plants which suit full shade placement:
- White sallow wattle
- Barbed wire grass
- Tasman flax lily
- Kidney weed
- Slender tea tree
If you’re looking for more specific plant ideas for your garden, this helpful tool allows you to find plants by name, colour, soil type, temperature, size, light requirement and climate.