Maintaining Australian Native Plants: “Plant and Forget” is a horticultural myth, which surrounds the cultivation of Australian plants. In general Australian plants require less attention than many exotics. They certainly have lower water requirements than plants native to countries with higher and more reliable rainfall. This is an important attribute if you wish to create a garden in this the driest continent. At Yallaroo our plants are watered for the first two growing seasons after planting. From then on they survive on rainfall. Banksias and Prostantheras (Mint Bushes) are two exceptions, as members of these genera tend to wilt during extended dry periods. All Yallaroo garden beds are mulched with organic material, which tends to reduce evaporation.
Pruning is our most important maintenance activity. At Yallaroo we plant at a fairly high density (about 3 plants/square metre). We do this for a number of reasons. Close planting imitates nature, in our harsh climate the plants shelter and support each other and dense planting creates havens for small native birds. Without regular pruning, plants tend to become lanky which reduces the beneficial effects of close planting.
We use “micro” and “macro” pruning. “Micro” pruning takes place when the growing tips are pinched out on young plants as they put on fresh growth. “Macro” pruning takes place when the plants are older and have reached flowering stage. After flowering we attack our plants with enthusiasm and remove the spent flowers. “Macro” pruning is very important with Acacias (Wattles) and Callistemons (Bottlebrushes). Without pruning these plants become very lanky, have few flowers and are prone to disease. Both genera flower on new wood so flowering will improve dramatically if loads of new growth is encouraged. When the flowers of Wattles and Bottlebrushes have faded we prune each branch behind the spent flowers. In the case of wattles often at least one metre of each branch is removed during pruning. This may seem rather drastic, but the plants will thank you for this treatment by developing bushy growth and blooming bounteously next season.