Australia's hot and dry summers can be challenging for plants, but there are several species that thrive in these conditions. Here are some of the best plants for the Australian summer (not all are natives):
- Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.): Known for their vibrant colors, bougainvillea is a hardy and drought-tolerant plant that thrives in full sun. They produce beautiful bracts that create a stunning display of color throughout the summer. Not that they are also very thorny - so not great with small kids but fantastic under windows to keep intruders out.
- Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos spp.): My mother had a love of Kangaroo Paw and had lots in her garden. Native to Australia, kangaroo paws are well-suited to the hot and dry conditions. They produce unique and striking flowers that resemble kangaroo paws. Choose from various colors, such as red, yellow, and orange.
- Agapanthus (Agapanthus spp.): These tough and low-maintenance plants are well-adapted to hot climates. They feature clusters of blue, white, or purple flowers and can tolerate both heat and drought. There is a reason these are so popular in the suburbs and around pools - virtually indestructible.
- Grevillea (Grevillea spp.): With their attractive flowers and evergreen foliage, grevilleas are a popular choice for Australian gardens. They come in a variety of sizes and flower colors, attracting native birds to the garden. The best part of course is that they attract native birds to your garden.
- Frangipani (Plumeria spp.): Frangipani trees are iconic in Australian landscapes, with their beautiful and fragrant flowers. They thrive in hot and dry conditions and are known for their ability to withstand prolonged periods without water. Most of us automatically think of the yellow frangipani but it is worth trying to find the beautiful pink or red ones.
- Lomandra (Lomandra spp.): These grass-like plants are highly adaptable and drought-tolerant. They come in various sizes and have long, strappy leaves that add texture and interest to the garden.
- Gardenia (Gardenia spp.): Not always easy but the Gardenia is worth a little extra trouble. Known for their beautiful fragrance and stunning white flowers, there are many types from shrubs to groundcover. Just remember not to touch the flowers - they don’t like it.
- Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.): Bottlebrushes are loved for their distinctive bottlebrush-shaped flowers that attract birds and pollinators. They are hardy, drought-tolerant, and thrive in full sun. My mind was blown last year when I discovered that they have a lot more colour variations than I thought. Purple - I had no idea.
- Succulents and Cacti: Many succulent and cacti species are well-suited to the hot and dry conditions of Australian summers. They store water in their leaves or stems, making them excellent drought-tolerant options.
Remember to provide proper watering and care for these plants, especially during the hot summer months. Mulching around plants can help retain moisture and protect the roots from heat. Additionally, regular watering and adequate soil preparation are essential during establishment periods.
Also think of your local wildlife and include a water source for the local birds and a shady rock or shrub for the blue tongues.
It's important to consider your specific region and microclimate within Australia, as conditions can vary significantly across the country. Consult with local nurseries or gardening experts to select the best plants that suit your specific location and microclimate.