What to grow
Hovea trisperma

Here are some lists of attractive native plants that grow well in Perth and which you have a reasonable chance of obtaining.

We have used four criteria in selecting the plants to list:

  1. They have to be attractive - showy flowers or interesting leaves.

  2. You have a fair chance of getting them at least from one of the specialist nurseries.

  3. Once established, they can be grown with little added water, at least on soils 2, 4 and 5.

  4. They are from WA. Of course, a great many plants from other states fulfil the other criteria. But our plants are more likely to be adapted to our climate, less likely to become weeds, and more likely to support wildlife.

And we are biased!

Here is the key to the list

 

Because our  list is really quite small, - it's likely you will see quite a few other plants at specialist nurseries. You can find information about specific plants in Florabase

Yes we know it's incomplete! Feel free to tell us which of your favourite plants we have omitted.

Here is a link to another list provided by a nursery. It is organized by soil type and linked to a catalogue of plants for sale.

And here is a link to a large list of mostly native plants recommended by the Water Corporation.

 

Large trees.

Think very carefully before you plant them! Large trees, such as lemon scented gums or spotted gums may look great in parks - at least local councils seem to  think so (we would rather see local plants). But you may regret planting them in a modern small garden.

That doesn't mean there is no room for trees. There are hundreds of attractive small trees that grow very well in native gardens. Here are just a few.

Small trees

Eucalypts with showy flowers.

E. caesia Comes in two sub species with the one known as "silver princess" being readily available in Perth. Lovely multi-stemmed weeping tree with pendulous pink flowers and silver-bell fruits.
E. torquata Small upright tree with attractive pink flowers. Very drought resistant.

E. ficifolia
= Corymbia ficifolia

Often called the WA Flowering gum. Ranges in size from small to quite large and in flower colour from deep red to orange to pale pink. In WA subject to a serious disease - called canker. Many trees succumb when about 10 or so years old, either dying or becoming very unhealthy.
E. preissiana Bell fruited mallee. Small tree (or shrub) with bright yellow flowers.
E. erythrocorys Illyarrie, red cap gum or helmet nut gum. Large golden flowers in February preceded by a bright red bud cap. Tree tends to be bit floppy and to need pruning.
E. macrocarpa Mottelcah has huge red to pink flowers and attractive grey leaves. Needs pruning. E rhodanthe is similar.
E. pyriformis Pear-fruited mallee. Large red, pink or cream flowers. E kingsmillii and E. youngiana are similar
E. forrestiana Small tree with swollen  red base to the flowers.
E. tetraptera Somewhat straggly small tree with thick leaves and large red base to the flowers.

Eucalypts with unusual leaves.

E. crucis Attractive rounded grey leaves
E kruseana ditto
E websteriana  A spreading mallee with roundish green leaves

Banksias

Just about any banksia! Some grow to large trees. Check the range in Kings Park banksia garden and if you are "down south" visit the Banksia Farm

Here are some smallish ones with showy flowers held above the leaves. 

B. prionotes Rapid grower to medium sized tree, covered with orange "acorn" flowers in summer.
B. hookeriana Smaller than the above and with narrower leaves but similar orange flowers. B. burdettii and B. victoriae are in the same group.
B. ashbyi Small tree with showy bright orange flowers.

B. coccinea is a lovely plant with attractive red flowers - but  difficult to grow in Perth

And some with flowers not quite so well displayed

B media   Largish golden yellow "candle" flowers
B. praemorsa  Cut-leaf banksia. Very large "candles" which may be green, yellow or red.

And don't forget banksias have some creeping species that can be used as ground cover.

Some other genera

Agonis flexuosa Weeping peppermint. Attractive weeping tree with white flowers in clusters. Fairly large. There are dwarf cultivars plus one with variegated and another with dark leaves.
Callitris preissii Rottnest Island pine. Why grow foreign cypress when you can so easily grow this fine tree? 
Pittosporum phylliraeoides Weeping pittosporum. The inland form is a small weeping tree, the coastal form is more erect. Both forms have cream flowers and orange coloured fruit.
Acacia merinthophora Small tree with weeping zigzag branchlets
Acacia lasiocalyx Weeping tree with long cylindrical bright yellow flowers
Hakea bucculenta Erect small tree, bright red flowers in Aug. Sep.

Shrubs.

There are thousands. All we can do is give you a few species from some of the genera

Adenanthos. One of the Proteaceae family. The ones we suggest are grown for their foliage rather than for their flower

A. cuneatus Low and slow growing. Grow it for its attractive leaves that colour reddish in summer.
A. sericeus Woolybush. Soft grey-green foliage. Rapidly growing, becoming large - but it is  short-lived.
A. x cunninghamii Albany woolybush. Thought to be a hybrid between the above two. Intermediate in properties.

Grevillea. Probably the best known of the Proteacea family. There are more than 200 species in WA but in most non-specialist nurseries you will mainly see hybrids. Fine plants - but mainly from sub-tropical species and do best with summer water. Of the hybrids, Robin Gordon and Masons Hybrid have the W.A. G. bipinnatifida as one parent and grow fairly well with little summer water on the better Perth soils.

G. calliantha Hardy shrub with spreading layered habit and attractive grey green foliage. Honey eating birds love its reddish-black and yellow flowers that bloom 3-4 times a year. Introduced into cultivation by Zanthorrea Nursery. 
G. endlicheriana Local to the hills. Long racemes of pale pink flowers in spring. Grey green foliage. Hardy in hills soils
G. olivacea Vigorous shrub to small tree. Grow it mainly for the foliage - leaves are dark green on top, silvery underneath and shimmer in a breeze. Flowers red or apricot.
G. pilulifera Low shrub to 0.3 m. Cream flowers in  Spring cover the plant. Style ends have showy coloured knobs. Occurs in Jarrah forest - hardy in hills soils
G. pimeleoides Small shrub, bright green leaves and bright gold flowers. Will grow  in semi-shade. Hardy in hills soils.
G. preissii Previously G. thelemanniana. Several forms are sold. "Sea Spray" has attractive grey-green foliage. Seems to be identical to "Gilt Dragon"
G. obtusifolia Spreading shrub. Dark green leaves, red flowers are not prominent. Sold as Gin Gin gem.

Hakea. Reasonable to call it the neglected genus of the Proteacea.  Many have attractive flowers and most are drought resistant.

H. laurina Pincushion hakea.  Red pincushion flowers in winter. Attractive shrub to small tree
H. neurophylla Erect shrub with ornamental veined leaves and persistent fruit. Perfume from its pink flowers is just like a rose. Not widely available. Northern suburbs branch is propagating.
H. orthorrhyncha Bird hakea. Bright red flowers on the bare stems in early spring.
H. petiolaris Sea urchin hakea. Erect shrub to pendulous tree. Attractive flowers in winter.

Isopogon. Cone flowers. The red/pink flowered species are sometimes found in nurseries. Can be propagated from fresh seed collected in late summer

I. divergens

I. dubius

I. formosus

These species differ in their leaf forms. I. dubius and I. formosus are rather prickly. I. divergens has simple leaves and more spreading habit.

Myrtaceae

Baeckea

B. camphorosmae Camphor myrtle. Low shrub with spreading to arching branches and profuse pink flowers over a long period

Beaufortia. A small genus mostly with bright flowers,

B. aestiva Sand bottle brush. Small shrub. Flowers red cream or orange. This is the northern species. Often sold  by the nursery trade as B squarrosa
B. schaueri Pink bottlebrush. Very hardy bushy shrub with greyish green foliage and pink-mauve flowers in spring-summer. Not widely available - ask for it.
B squarrosa Southern species of sand bottle brush. 

Calothamnus. The name means "beautiful bush" and it's appropriate. Most have dark green narrow leaves.

C. graniticus Hardy shrub in full sun. Long needle-shaped leaves, bright red flowers. Looks like a shrubby Japanese pine. Good in floral arrangements. 
C. quadrifidus Dark green needle-shaped leaves, bright red flowers. There is a lot of variation and the nursery trade has selected some floriferous varieties. There are also low-growing selections.
C. hirsutus A low shrub. Grow it for its hairy grey/green leaves. The flowers are inconspicuous. Often sold as C. villosus.
C. homalophyllus Murchison Clawflower. Unusual in the genus  in having slightly broader leaves. Flowers red.
C. rupestris Mouse ears. Soft-pink flowers and mouse-like unripe fruit. Common in Perth hills
C. sanguineus A low growing species - less than 1 m. Bright red flowers in autumn and winter. Hardy in hills soils.
C. validus Barrens Clawflower. Tall shrub which grows well on the coastal plain sand in the hills. Provides nectar from June to November.

Chamelaucium. Wax flowers. An increasing range of species and hybrids is becoming available. 

C. ciliatum Small shrub, covered with flowers in Spring.  Very tough in hills soils
C. uncinatum Geraldton wax. An old favourite. Several named varieties are available such as Purple Pride. Prune after flowering. A range of hybrids with, for example C. megapetalum, is appearing.

Hypocalymma. Myrtles. Small shrubs with showy flowers in Spring. Grow well in hills soils but often struggle in sandy soils.

H angustifolium White myrtle. Covered with white and  sometimes pink flowers in Spring.  Native to somewhat damp soils and does better with some summer moisture
H. xanthopetalum Small shrub to 0.5 m. Bright yellow flowers in winter and spring. Good for small gardens.

Kunzea. A small genus. The two species we list have bottle brush flowers - but unlike Callistemon the seed capsules don't persist.

K. baxteri Robust shrub with red flowers. sometimes with grey-green leaves
K. pulchella Granite kunzea. Bright red flowers on silvery-grey foliage. Very tough as it grows in cracks in granite rocks. (If you find a hybrid between these two for sale, buy it!)

Melaleuca and Callistemon. These two are closely related. All Callistemons, and many Melaleucas, have bottle brush flowers. There are almost 200 Melaleucas in WA. 

C. "Kings Park special" Callistemons have been extensively bred and selected. Kings Park special is a vigorous large shrub covered with bottle brush flowers in spring.
M. incana The form available at nurseries is a small shrub with grey-green leaves and small yellow bottle brush flowers
M. fulgens Bright red or orange bottle brush flowers on small shrub. M. "steedmanii" is sometimes sold under that name but is now classified as a sub-species of M. fulgens
M. huegelii Chenille honey myrtle. Vigorous shrub, well adapted to coastal conditions. Flowers usually cream in late spring.
M nematophylla &  M. filifolia Wiry honey myrtles. Showy globular deep pink to mauve flower heads in October,  narrow wiry leaves. Both species have been "lumped"  by some authorities into M. filifolia but it is now recognized that the species are different and M filifolia is smaller.
M. systena (prev. M acerosa) Coastal honey myrtle. Small shrub, creamy flowers in spring.

Scholtzia. A genus with masses of small flowers..

S. involucrata Spiked Scholtzia. Low spreading or erect shrub. Attractive foliage and shell pink flowers in summer.
S. oligandra Pink Scholtzia. Tall graceful bushy shrub covered in fragrant flowers from autumn until early summer,

Thryptomene. Another genus with masses of small flowers.

T stenophylla Very hardy low spreading shrub, ideal for rockeries and can be used as ground cover, Masses of honey-perfumed mauve-pink flowers in winter-spring. Not widely available.
T. strongylophylla Graceful shrub with tiny leaves and long spikes of deep mauve flowers in winter-spring. Not widely available - ask for it!

Verticordia. The name means "turner of hearts" and applies because they are so beautiful. There are more than 100 species. Be prepared to try any you see in nurseries. The following 3 are fairly easy to obtain and are quite vigorous. A book describing all species of verticordia was published in 2002.

V. chrysanthella Small shrub, covered with bright yellow flowers in spring. Sometimes sold as V. chrysantha
V. mitchelliana Bright red "rapier-like" flowers in spring
V. plumosa Several varieties flowering at different times and with differing forms. Flowers usually pink

Acacia. We have an enormous range of small shrubby acacias. Few are readily available from the nursery trade. Be prepared to try any offered at the Friends of Kings Park sales. Please don't plant A. iteaphylla the Flinders Range wattle which is widely offered. Not only does it have high weed potential, it's scent gives me, and  others, head aches. Check out any species offered with the Wattle program.

A. guinetii "Non-prickly" moses. Like prickly moses (see under) but with softer, non-prickly foliage and slightly larger flowers
A. lasiocarpa Dune  moses. Small shrub with pinnate leaves. Strains with few spines are available.
A. pulchella Prickly moses. Marvellous flowers but most varieties are really prickly. Only plant if you are prepared to keep out of its way.
A. urophylla Shrub with broad phyllodes with prominent veins. Mostly with cream flowers but some provenances have bright yellow. Tolerates semi-shade. Does well in hills soils.

Others

Ricinocarpos. A small genus  of which the  best known are the wedding bushes. R. glaucus is native to the Perth region but the more vigorous R. tuberculatus is more widely available.

R. tuberculatus Vigorous shrub, covered with white flowers in spring

Dampiera. Try any species of dampiera you see in nurseries. They all have striking dark blue/purple flowers and make a fine show with acacias or with everlastings.

D. teres Small much-branched shrub. Not prominent for much of the year but puts on a show in spring.

Peas.  WA has a huge range of brightly flowered peas. Only a few are commonly available.

Mirbelia dilatata Erect shrub to 3 m, prickly foliage, bright mauve/purple pea flowers in Spring. Does well in hills soils
Templetonia retusa Cockies tongue. Erect shrub with bright red flowers in mid winter. Well adapted to limestone soils.

Diplolaena. These are members of the lemon family, but, as is common in WA, the flowers are aggregated. In this genus they form a nodding head.

D. angustifolia Yanchep rose. Small shrub with narrow leaves.
D. grandiflora Wild rose. Small shrub with broader leaves.

Daisy family. Some members of this family are grown for their foliage rather than for their flowers

Leucophyta brownii Sometimes sold under its old name of Calocephalus brownii. Compact low shrub with whitish leaves and small daisy flower. A cushion form is also available.
Olearia axillaris Small shrub with whitish leaves. Leaves have pleasant smell - native rosemary.

Ground covers and low plants

We include plants that are naturally low growing. Grevillea obtusifolia (see above) can be used as a good ground cover but it needs pruning to keep it low. Several dryandras and several banksias form natural ground covers but few are commonly available. Try them if you see them for sale. These two are often available.

Banksia blechnifolia A creeping banksia with attractive red/pink flowers at the ends of horizontal stems. May take a few years to establish. Leaves deeply divided.
Banksia petiolaris Spreads to more than 1 m. Large yellow flowering spikes, ornamental toothed leaves with reddish-pink new growth

Conostylis. This is a genus of grass-like herbs which spread using rhizomes. Most have attractive, usually yellow, flowers. The one we list is fairly widely available.

C. candicans Spreading grass-like herb with whitish leaves and yellow flowers in spring. Well adapted to coastal sands.

Dianella. A Perth suburb is named after this genus. It is widespread genus and you may see non-local species for sale. Prefer the local species - because it is local, and because it holds its flowers nicely above the foliage.

D. revoluta Perennial herb with fairly broad strap-like leaves. Blue/purple flowers are held above the leaves.

Patersonia A genus of Iris-like plants with three-petalled flowers

P occidentalis Purple Flag. Three prominent purple petals make a showy flower in late spring.

Thryptomene

T. baeckeacea Prostrate plant covered with mauve flowers from May to October. Slow to establish - but easy to propagate by layering.

Elizabeth George, Mary Grey, and Janet Atkins provided much of the information for this page