Botany

Native Australian Shrubs which Provide Food for Birds



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Attracting birds to Australian gardens is not difficult. Birds need food, water and shelter if they are to feel it’s worthwhile stopping in an area. Small birds especially appreciate a dense, maybe prickly shrub where they can flee from domestic cats or larger birds. Nectar-producing plants will also be appreciated. Planting a variety of Australian natives will encourage a variety of birdlife in your garden.

The following are a selection of Australian native medium sized (to 4 metres) shrubs which you might like to consider as a way to entice more birds.

Acacia myrtifolia or Mytle Wattle is a small shrub, often with reddish stems. It has a profuse display of globular, cream or yellow flowers, mainly from July to October. Although an adaptable species it is not always long-lived. It produces a good quantity of seed enjoyed by parrots and pigeons. It can be grown in areas which have frost.

Callistemon subulatus or Tonghi Bottlebrush is a branched shrub with crowded leaves up to 5cm long. Deep red flower spikes of around 6cm long are borne from October to December. Pruning after flowering will promote bushy growth.

Correa glabra or Rock Correa is a variable species with dense foliage. The tubular flowers may reach 3cm long and are usually pale green but there are red and pink forms. The main flowering period is from May to August. It responds well to regular light pruning and is not affected by frost.

Darwinia citriodora or Lemon-scented Darwinia has attractive grey-green leaves. It is a spreading shrub with a spicy fragrance. Yellow-green and red flowers appear from April to November. It responds well to pruning but can be subject to frost damage.

Epacris longiflora or Fuchsia Heath is a fairly open plant with narrow tubular flowers to 3cm long. It flowers most of the year, with the main flowering season being from May to January. The highly decorative flowers are red with white tips. It responds well to light to medium pruning and is frost resistant.

Grevillea Aquifolium or Variable Prickly Grevillea has holly-like leaves. The main flowering season is from September to February when red and green toothbrush flower heads are produced. There are several different forms in cultivation. It is suited to warm, well-drained  positions and is tolerant of drought and frost.

Grevillea longistyla is a bushy shrub with fine, divided, dark green leaves on reddish stems. Clusters of pink to red flowers are borne mainly from June to November. It is suited to a well-drained position with full or partial sun and responds well to pruning.

Grevillea’Poorinda Queen’ is a cultivar which has striking pale orange to apricot flowers produced in clusters along the branches almost throughout the year but with the peak flowering period being from July to November. It is hardy in most positions providing drainage is good. It responds well to pruning.

Melaleuca lateritia or Red Robin Bush is endemic to Western Australia. The narrow leaves are1-2cm long. Bright orange-red flower spikes of up to 10cm long are produced on older wood mainly from November to April. It adapts to sun or semi-shade and moist or well-drained soils.

Telopea speciosissima   or New South Wales Waratah is the floral emblem of that state. It has spectacular red flowers usually from September to November. It prefers to have a cool root area with some sun on the foliage to encourage good flowering. It responds well to pruning after flowering.

Birds will take care of many of the insect pests which plague gardeners. Many Australian native plants, particularly grevilleas and callistemons, will attract birds to the garden while also providing beautiful displays of flowers.

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