South Australian natives are the plants that thrived here before European colonists came ashore and endeavoured to recreate their landscapes from home by introducing exotic plant species.
Just like humans adapt to their environments, so do plants. Native plant species naturally occur without human intervention, evolving to the local conditions and climate, and alongside wildlife over many years.
It’s these qualities that make them a winning choice for your garden.
Feeling inspired? Here are our 5 top reasons for you to plant natives in your garden:
1. They can survive on rainfall alone
If you are a serial plant killer, selecting natives may be your turning point. Many native species are easy to grow, resilient and do a great job at supporting themselves in our challenging climate.
In the first year after planting them, you might need to give them an occasional water if rainfall is scarce, but after that you’ll have a hardy plant that can survive on rainfall alone.
2. Theyprovide habitat, shelter and food for local wildlife
Native plants and native animals have evolved together over thousands of years, supporting one another to survive.
Lots of SA’s native animals live on the urban fringe, so if you plant a native garden, you’re also inviting native animals in by extending their habitat.
To entice them to your garden, start by choosing a variety of native plants that provide different food sources, such as flowers for nectar-feeding birds and fruit for possums. With the right plant species, you can provide wildlife with a fruitful oasis all year round.
You can also consider native plants that provide animals with shelter and protection from predators. Your garden could act as a mini wildlife sanctuary where native species come to seek refuge.
3. They support a healthy environment
Vast amounts of fertilisers and pesticides are often applied to support exotic plants, especially lawns.
But the excess phosphorus and nitrogen, the main ingredients in fertilisers, will run off into waterways and can cause excess algae growth. These algae reduce the oxygen content in our waters and are harmful to aquatic life.
Chemical pesticides cause similar issues as they contaminate soil and waterways and can cause unintended harm to other plants and wildlife.
Luckily, fertilisers and pesticides are generally not needed for native plants. So by opting for a native garden, you’re contributing to creating a healthier environment for you and your community.
4. They improve biodiversity
Protecting areas of remnant native vegetation is essential in preserving biodiversity.
Good biodiversity creates healthy ecosystems that clean the water, purify the air, maintain healthy soil, regulate the climate and provide us with food and resources.
Unfortunately when land is developed, native vegetation is often removed and replaced with exotic species. When this happens, species diversity is greatly reduced.
Establishing your own native garden can help combat this and assist in preserving biodiversity. Go one better by planting local native species in your garden – that is, choosing plants that are native to your local area. Check out the Botanic Gardens of South Australia’s Plant Selector tool to find out what your local natives are.
5. They help you save time and money
Native plants not only benefit native wildlife and the environment, but you as well!
As native plants are low maintenance, it means you can spend less time in the garden while still reaping the rewards of a beautiful green space.
And because they don’t require fertilisers or pesticides and can support themselves on very little water, there are less costs to outlay – which means more pennies in your pocket!
Feeling inspired to create your own native garden? Read our story: 4 simple steps to creating your own native garden to get you started, or head to a State Flora nurseryfor expert advice on what plants are right for your garden.
This story was originally posted in August 2019.