Some of the best trees to grow in your yard are Australian native trees. Not only can you support your local community by sourcing them from nearby nurseries, but they’re also a perfect fit for our climate down under. And your tree won’t only make a statement! It’ll also give shade, create a habitat, and even provide food for any wildlife passing by.
There are all sorts of native trees in Australia, from ones with flowers to ones with fruit. You can have fast-growing plants, or ones that take their time. From gum trees to lemon-scented myrtle to the iconic wattle, you’re spoiled for choice on what tree to plant. Best of all, many of them are low-maintenance, so once they’re established you can just sit back and watch them grow.
Interested in growing a native tree in your garden? Here’s a guide to some of the best Australian trees you can plant by your home.
Fast-Growing Australian Native Trees
If you’re planting a gum tree in your garden, make sure you go for the dwarf variety. Take the lemon-scented gum, which can reach 30m in height. Fortunately, there’s a dwarf lemon-scented gum (called ‘Scentuous’) that reaches just 7m high. In summer, it displays white flowers with pink stems.
Another gum tree you can choose is the ‘Summer Red’, which has stunning red flowers and grows to just 6m in height.
Gum trees like full sun and well-draining soil. They grow best in temperate climates, but can’t tolerate frost when young. They also have strong root systems, so keep them away from structures and underground pipes!
The taller grevillea varieties like Moonlight and Honey Gem can be grown as small trees! Just pick the kind with a single stem, and prune any low-growing branches. They mature fast, and will reach only 3–8m in height.
Grow a grevillea tree in full sun, with free-draining soil. Try a raised garden bed so the ground doesn’t become over-moist and cause root rot. Prune it regularly, particularly in summer so it can grow and re-flower. Avoid trimming in autumn, though – you could remove flowers, which are important for birds and insects.
Black She Oak (Allocasuarina)
This evergreen tree is not for a small garden – the She Oak can reach up to 15m in height. Its red flowers bloom in spring, and it has a tolerance for most climates. Allocasuarina is a nitrogen-fixing tree, meaning it returns nutrients to the earth.
Avoid sandy soils when planting a She Oak, since this could encourage pests. Seedlings need regular watering while germinating, but mature trees are drought tolerant. Prune regularly for better health.
Australian Native Flowering Trees
The wattle tree is one of the most iconic trees you can grow in your garden. This acacia is a herald of the start of spring. The golden wattle in particular is the floral emblem of Australia, and lines parks and roads all around the country.
Wattle trees grow fast but live only around 7–12 years. Plant them somewhere sunny (though they can tolerate partial shade), with free-draining soil. They’ll thrive in tropical climates, and are very low-maintenance once established.
Banksia is a stunning plant, with its serrated leaves and flower spikes. Its blooms range from greenish-white to yellow to red-orange. Commonly grown banksia include Coast Banksia and Silver Banksia, which reach around 12m in height.
Larger banksia trees should be planted at least 4m away from structures, but dwarf varieties are great for a poolside garden or as ground cover. Grow your banksias in sandy, slightly acidic soil in full sun. They’ll do best in warm or temperate climates.
Australian Native Fruit Trees
Illawarra plum tree
The fruit-bearing Illawarra is a slow-growing tree that you can actually grow in a pot. But when cultivated openly, it can reach 8–12m in height. If you want the plums, you’ll need to plant at least one male and one female plant, so don’t get mixed up!
The Illawarra plum can grow in full sun and partial shade. Sow it in non-alkaline ground, although it will tolerate different soils so long as it has adequate drainage. It’s also salt-resistant, making it the perfect tree if you live along the coast.
Tucker Bush cherry tree
This is a fruit-bearing variety of Lilly Pilly, and you can pick the berries in autumn. They have a texture similar to apples, with a slightly acidic sweetness. Before that, though, you’ll have fluffy white flower clusters in late spring to early summer.
As a rainforest-type tree, the Tucker Bush cherry prefers rich soils, but can grow in most other types of earth. Place it somewhere with plenty of sun, and watch as its bronze oval leaves turn deep green as it matures. Regular pruning gives it a more aesthetic, bushy appearance. This species is resistant to psyllids, too.
Australian Native Screen Trees
Native frangipani tree
This rainforest tree has yellow flowers with a heady fragrance. However, it bears no relation to the exotic frangipani. These can be difficult to source, so check with your local nursery first. Make sure to get smaller forms – the larger tree version can reach 20m in height!
It’s important to keep your frangipani tree out of any strong wind since its branches can be brittle. Go for more alkaline earth when planting, and keep it somewhere with full sun.
Lilly Pilly tree
The Lilly Pilly has different varieties, but its dwarf versions are great as hedges. They have thick, dense leaves that act as both a screen and an ornamental accent. In the blooming season, they produce fragrant white flowers that turn into berries.
The Weeping Lilly Pilly is a good option to use as a screen tree. It’s hardier than other varieties, and can tolerate both drought or the occasional overwatering. Just keep an eye out for psyllids, which can take advantage of weakened or stressed plants.
Australian Native Shade Trees
Lemon-scented myrtle tree
This beautifully-scented tree comes from the rainforest, and looks gorgeous in any Australian garden. They bloom with white flowers in summer, which attract plenty of butterflies. After the rain, or when crushed, the leaves give off an invigorating lemon fragrance.
The lemon-scented myrtle tree likes warm conditions, but if your climate is hot and dry, you may want to grow this tree in the shade. Layer mulch or compost around the base to give it a boost. As a shade tree, choose the single-trunk variety and prune lower branches regularly to maintain its shape.
Blueberry ash tree
This is an evergreen tree, and is also originally a rainforest species. It flowers in spring and summer, which then become blue berries that last through winter. Just make sure you’re ready for visitors, since birds will turn your tree into a lunchtime buffet.
The blueberry ash tree reaches about 3–4m wide at full maturity, and can reach 8–15m in height depending on growing conditions. It likes moist ground that drains well, but can still thrive in sandy and coastal conditions. Just don’t plant it anywhere cold – it doesn’t do well with frost.
Willow Myrtle tree
Agonis flexuosa or the Willow Myrtle is also an excellent shade tree, whose widespread canopy can grow to a height of 8m. It blooms 5-petalled white flowers from spring to summer. It doesn’t grow too fast, but will make an excellent accent in any garden.
Willow Myrtle likes moist, well-drained soil, and can tolerate dry and coastal conditions. It grows more easily from seed than it does from cuttings. Prune it once or twice a year to maintain its shape.
Australian Native Pine Trees
Australian pine (beaf-wood)
The Casuarina tree, or the Australian pine, is an evergreen tree found along the coast in tropical regions. It was wispy needles on droopy branches that give it its iconic look. Cultivars can grow up to 6m in height.
Keep this tree in full sun, and use coarse-grained or sandy loam soils when growing in your garden. This tree will thrive well in coastal areas since it has a unique tolerance to salty conditions.
Native Tree Care
Most trees will be fairly drought tolerant, and would rather dry out between waterings than have too-moist ground. Water regularly while establishing, but once mature, your tree can handle some dryness.
Fertiliser isn’t usually necessary since indigenous plants can thrive in low-nutrient earth. Still, flowering and fruit plants will appreciate a boost in the growing season. There’s no need to use low phosphorus fertiliser except for banksias. These are Proteaceae plants, which means they’re sensitive to phosphorus levels in the earth.
Consult a professional garden maintenance service on the care of your plants so they can help keep your garden in the best condition. This is especially important for pruning, which encourages new growth and good health.
There are plenty of Australian native trees for your garden, so it’s really up to you on which you’d like to plant. Then it’s just a matter of caring for it as it grows – and taking a step back to enjoy the verdant view.