Australian Native Plants:

The Kings Park Experience

Australian Native Plants

Australian Native Plants provides a comprehensive guide to the horticulture of our native plants. Based on nearly 50 years of experience at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, the book describes the necessary growing conditions for mainly Western Australian native plants and covers some of the more technical aspects such as plant propagation and grafting, the use and benefits of tissue culture, methods of seed collection and storage, and the role of smoke in improving germination.

Western Australia is home to about five per cent of the world’s vascular plants and contains Australia’s only terrestrial ‘biodiversity hotspot’. Written by experts with an in-depth knowledge of how to grow these plants outside their natural habitat, Australian Native Plants provides the more technically minded professional or enthusiast with information based on decades of research, experimentation and application. It aims to encourage the growing of Australian plants so that they can be used more widely and contribute to interesting, attractive and diverse private gardens and public landscapes in a changing environment.

  1. Page vii
  2. Page viii
  3. Page ix
  4. Page 1

    Australian plants need normal horticultural care and attention for optimum results. To achieve good plant growth, desirable form and strong flowering, many species require regular irrigation, pruning and applied fertiliser. Others, however, especially those in the Proteaceae family such as grevilleas and hakeas, require minimal ongoing care and attention once established.

  5. Page 9

    Combining groundcovers with small and medium sized shrubs provides detail and complexity to a landscape and delivers high impact floral displays. Most groundcovers are relatively short-lived and are usually more heavily planted in areas where an intensive visual outcome is desired, with skilled horticulturists maintaining the display.

  6. Page 21

    When you are trying to grow a range of Australian plants within a landscape, trees are often the cause of reduced flowering of any plants that grow within their shadow, as most high impact Australian shrubs and groundcovers require a full sun aspect for best performance. With the exception of the Rottnest teatree, the following selection of trees has been formulated with this in mind. All these trees are proven performers. They have good form and flowers and can be strategically planted within a mixed shrubbery. They are suitable for low maintenance gardens, will attract birds and, unless stated otherwise in the individual descriptions, are suitable for pot culture. The species chosen celebrate the plant diversity found in Western Australia.

  7. Page 33

    Trees are significant and dynamic features of a landscape and require specific consideration and management. Whether growing your own trees, buying them from a nursery or having them contract-grown, it is critical to understand how the mature tree will fit into the landscape and to choose only quality planting material.

  8. Page 41

    The two main nursery techniques used to propagate Australian native plants are seed germination and production from cuttings. Seed-grown material produces plants with the genetic make-up of both parents so that every plant is slightly different genetically from its sibling, while cuttings produce plants that are clonal, that is, they have the same characteristics as the plant from which the cuttings were taken.

  9. Page 63

    Seeds of wild species can be used as a cost-effective and simple means of producing plants for the horticultural industry, conservation programs and restoration of damaged landscapes. When correctly stored in seed banks, seeds also represent an important, secure resource for long-term biodiversity conservation. Most seeds can be stored for many years, decades or even centuries, and still be propagated readily.

  10. Page 75

    Tissue culture is used all over the world for mass production of clonal plants. It involves multiplying shoots under sterile conditions in closed containers (usually glass or plastic jars or tubes) on an artificial nutrient medium. This nutrient medium contains minerals, organic compounds (sugar, vitamins, growth factors, plant growth regulators) and agar. The containers together with the medium are autoclaved (‘cooked’ at high temperature and pressure) to kill all micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi which, if not eliminated, would otherwise overgrow and foul the medium.

  11. Page 81

    This chapter aims to give a general overview of problems with Australian plants, providing a summary of symptoms from pests, pathogens or disorders that affect the physiology and function of the plants. There is also more detailed information about some of the specific problems, together with suggestions of management options. The information presented here is drawn from experience, observations and research with Australian plants over several decades. Although some aspects are specific to Western Australia, there are general principles that are more widely applicable relating to the diagnosis of the cause and the management of the problem.

  12. Page 103

    The Australian native flora is generally horticulturally unimproved and many highly ornamental species are often difficult to grow due to their specialised growing requirements. Plant selection and breeding provides the opportunity to improve the adaptability of this flora under varying environmental conditions so they are more suitable for display in a wider range of public landscapes and home gardens.

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