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Rainbow lorikeet eating nectar from a red flowering gum tree © Shutterstock / Jun Zhang / WWF

Rainbow lorikeet eating nectar from a red flowering gum treeRainbow lorikeet eating nectar from a red flowering gum tree © Shutterstock / Jun Zhang / WWF

9 Australian native plants and trees to attract wildlife and bees to your apartment balcony or garden

11 Nov 2019

Keywords
  • plants
  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • forests

Australia’s well known for its iconic wildlife, like the koala and kangaroo. But did you know that Australia is also home to some of the most unique plants, trees and shrubs too? There is so much native Australian flora just waiting to be appreciated.

 

Trees and plants play an integral role in four of our major ecosystems - forests, grasslands, deserts, tundra.

 

With half of Australia’s threatened wildlife living on the urban fringe, native gardens are a great way to ensure that our beloved Australian animal species thrive and have a safe place to call home. Incredibly, we have 24,000 species of native plants in Australia and they all help our native bees, and provide food and shelter for koalas, birds, lizards, frogs and so many more! Not only that, but our country’s flora is also beneficial for our well-being (because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love plants)?

 

So no matter where you live - whether it’s in an urban jungle, the suburban streets or in the countryside, we all have a role to play in protecting our native plants and wildlife.

 

Here are some native Australian floral species you can plant to create a wildlife-friendly oasis. We even have some that are great for balcony botanists! (Scroll down to the bottom for some options).

 

**Make sure to check your local council or nursery to ensure you’re choosing plant species that are native to your area, as some natives might be considered weeds in other parts of Australia***

Gum tree (Eucalyptus)

Rainbow lorikeet eating nectar from a red flowering gum tree © Shutterstock / Jun Zhang / WWF

 

Gum trees are quintessentially Australian and are home to some of our most iconic wildlife - like the koala! There are over 700 different species of eucalyptus and the flowers they produce have lots of nectar that attract a wide range of native bee species, including stingless bees and resin bees, as well as large colourful birds.

 

If you don’t have room in your backyard for a gum tree or if you live in an apartment, why not adopt a tree and we’ll plant one on your behalf?

 

ADOPT A TREE

Banksia (Banksia)

A Carnaby’s black cockatoo feeds on a banksia tree in Underwood Ave bushland, Western Australia © Margaret Owen

 

Banksias will add colour to your garden, as well as attract a range of native bees, birds and small mammals since their flowers are packed full of nectar.

 

With over 173 banksia species (all but one found in Australia) and their flowers blooming in different shades of white, yellow, orange and red, there’s really is something for everyone.

 

Bottlebrush (Callistemon)

A native Australian bottlebrush shrub © Jess James / Flickr

 

The iconic bottlebrush is a shrub, known for its cylindrical red brush-shaped flowers. They’re great for those who might not have the best green thumb, as they’re hardy plants and require little maintenance.

 

They also provide food and the perfect home for a range of wildlife, including possums, flying foxes, lizards, insects and nectar-eating birds.

 

Wattle (Acacia)

Close up of wattle flowers (Acacia pycnantha) in Sydney © WWF-Aus / Andrew Cochran

 

The wattle is a fast-growing tree with beautiful yellow flower balls. Growing any type of acacia species (there are over 1,350 species in the world, with close to 1,000 found in Australia) will help provide shelter, food and habitats for Australian birds… and because they’re also a great source of pollen, they’re a popular choice for attracting native bees.

 

Did you know: The golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) is Australia’s national flower.

 

Waratah (Telopea)

A waratah plant native to Australia © R Reeve / Flickr

 

Big and beautiful - the waratah is one of Australia’s most iconic flowers and is found on the southeastern parts of Australia. They produce bright red flowers - sometimes white, pink or yellow, and attract a wide variety of native birds.

 

Once found in many areas of metropolitan Sydney, their survival is due to its existence in national parks. This stunning flower also happens to be the NSW state emblem.

 

Spider flower (Grevilleas)

The spider flower, Penrith Australia. Photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash

 

The spider flower isn’t as scary as its name might suggest. This versatile plant has hundreds of different species with unique foliage. Their flowers come in a variety of shades like red, orange, pink, green, cream and yellow.

 

The best part? They’re great for attracting a diverse range of insects, bees and butterflies, and are perfect habitats for birds that feed on their nectar.

 

Ideal native plants for the balcony botanist

Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos)

A blooming kangaroo paw © Randy Roberston / Flickr

 

This unique Australian plant get’s its name from its furry flower which is shaped just like a kangaroo’s paw. They’re often red in colour, but in the wild their flowers can also range from green to pink, yellow and black. They’re packed full of nectar, making them a high-energy food source for lots of native birds, insects and mammals.

 

Apartment dwellers will be pleased to know that kangaroo paws are great as pot plants as long as they’re situated somewhere nice and sunny!

 

Native bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta)

Australian bluebell (Wahlenbergia) in a pot © Elizabeth Donoghue / Flickr

 

You’ll most commonly find these beautiful royal blue flowers growing by the roadside, attracting bees and butterflies! There are thirteen species of Wahlenbergia stricta in Australia.

 

These Austrailan wildflowers do really well in pots and hanging baskets in light shade - perfect to add a bit of colour on the balcony!

 

Everlasting daisy (Xerochrysum)

Everlasting daisies in Kings Park, Perth © Michelle / Flickr

 

Each stem supports a flower that can bloom up to 60 mm in diameter and they can bloom in a range of colours, including pink, yellow and white! These heat tolerant plants do well in pots and perform best in full sun, but can tolerate a bit of shade.

If you’d like to attract butterflies and bees to your balcony, everlasting daisies will do wonders.

 

Don’t forget, if you don’t have any backyard or balcony space to plant some native flora, you can adopt a tree with WWF-Australia! Your tree adoption will ensure our native wildlife have a safe place to call home. Help us to grow and plant two billion trees in Australia by 2030.

ADOPT A TREE

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