Due to its harsh climate, Australia is home to some of the world’s most hardy and adaptable plants. Striking evergreen foliage, unique flowers and dynamic shapes are the icing on the cake for gardeners looking for drought hardy and shade tolerant solutions.
Benefits of Australian Native Plants
Australia experiences extreme summers, with soaring temperatures and long dry periods that put stress on plants.
It goes without saying that native plants are better adapted to these conditions, with many being drought tolerant and remarkably hardy once established.
These qualities make native plants ideal for creating waterwise and low maintenance gardens. At the same time, they help provide valuable shelter from predators for wildlife such as lizards, which help keep insect pests under control.
Growing Conditions for Native Plants
While some Australian native plants have special requirements or grow better in specific areas, others are exceptionally unfussy and tolerant of a variety of conditions. This makes them suitable for dry, semi-shaded spots in the garden that can otherwise be tricky to fill.
Here’s a selection of Australian natives that will grow in shade. Note that these plants are shade tolerant, meaning they’re generally happy in either part shade or full sun.
Dianella longifolia, also known as Blue Flax Lily or Smooth Flax Lily, is an delightful strappy grass plant with bright evergreen leaves.
It has distinctive, delicate blue flowers in spring and summer, followed by edible purple berries.
It is suited to all Australian climates except tropical, and does particularly well in coastal areas. Its clumping and spreading growth habit makes it useful for stabilising soil.
Lomandra longifolia is an exceptionally hardy grass with slender leaves in a mounding habit, and yellow flower spikes in spring.
There are various lomandra cultivars available, including compact variety Little Pal.
Lomandras are virtually unkillable, and will grow in all but the most tropical parts of Australia.
They are salt tolerant, making them suitable for coastal areas, and great for borders and edging.
Acacia cognata, also known as River Wattle or Narrow Leafed Bower Wattle, is a beautiful weeping wattle that’s popular with gardeners. It has an erect spreading growth habit, gorgeous foliage that creates a screen and moves gently in the breeze. Like all wattles, it has lovely yellow flowers in late winter.
It suits cool to mild tropical areas, but generally does better in the southern state. It is not fussy about soil type but needs protection from strong winds.
Tussock grass (Poa labillardieri) is an attractive, graceful grass that’s great for landscaping, rockeries and mass plantings. It has long, slender leaves, varying from grey-green to blue-green over time and season, and has a soft weeping habit.
It grows in all parts of Australia, from cool through to tropical, being able to tolerate a wide range of conditions. It grows best in well drained soil.
Callistemon ‘Genoa Glory’
This compact callistemon hybrid has glossy, purple-maroon bottlebrush flowers in spring and autumn, providing a valuable food source for native birds, insects and small mammals.
It tolerates a wide range of soils and climate conditions, it works well as a narrow screen or small hedging plant.
Get started with your native garden
Garden Express stocks a great selection of shade tolerant Australian natives – browse our range online for more ideas.