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What you can do!

By checking the plants in your garden with the help of the 'Grow Me Instead' website you may identify plants you should replace, while at the same time find others you may enjoy growing more!

Your local nursery or garden centre plant specialists will have additional suggestions of plants proven to be successful in your area. Plants purchased in another region, no matter how lovely they are, may not always prove hardy in yours. Furthermore, by purchasing plants from another region you may unwittingly introduce another environmental weed!

It is also a good idea to consider your garden setting and to then make a list of the plants to fill your specific house and garden needs. For example, aspects of the house exposed to hot western sun will benefit from a deciduous tree to provide summer shade and will allow penetration of winter sun, while privacy from neighbours can be provided by carefully chosen hedging plants. Or you may simply want to create beds or borders of colourful flowers and dramatic foliages to enhance your home décor. All of these wishes and needs are valid and they will vary between gardeners.

Garden plants provide many useful purposes, and in time they will become an integral part of your environment, chosen to suit the architecture of both your home and your personal lifestyle. Good garden cultivation is your contribution to establishing a special microclimate and will help to protect and preserve the local environment.

In recent times, many new plant varieties have been introduced through modern production methods and the work of plant breeders, resulting in plants which are attractive and hardy but which are non-invasive. These may be plants which are sterile or rarely produce seed. Many new varieties have low water needs or are tolerant of the air pollution found in the urban environment. In this way the Nursery Industry is contributing to the elimination of damaging or invasive species.

Purchasing plants from markets and other sources such as 'car boot sales', as well as plant swapping and trading between friends may also result in inadvertent movement of declared or noxious weeds.

Are you creating a weed problem in your area?

Are your garden plants 'jumping the fence'? Garden escapes are said to be one of the main sources of environmental weeds. Homeowners have a responsibility to protect natural resources.

Here are some simple ways to enjoy gardening without creating problems outside the garden fence.

  • Recognise and remove plants known to be 'weedy' and destroy them responsibly, according to local Natural Resource Management Board or council.
  • Replace problem plants with non-invasive alternatives, as suggested by 'Grow Me Instead' or by your local nursery or garden centre. They will help identify any suspect invasive plants.
  • When purchasing new plants for the garden read labels to establish good characteristics such as drought tolerance and non-weedy habit.
  • Good gardening practices include removal of spent flowers that can set seed within your garden or spread to bushland.
  • Do not dump green garden waste in neighbouring or public space as many plants can regenerate to become a nuisance.
  • Do not dump spent cut flowers into the garden or on to adjoining property. Florists often use seed heads, vines and other plant parts that may establish in your garden.
  • Never tip the water or plants from your aquarium into ponds, rivers or waterways. There are numerous, serious aquatic plants threatening rivers and waterways because of the thoughtless actions of some people.
  • There are many good sources of information in regard to weeds and their control. See Links for more information.
  • Think global - act local. Consider plants local to your area. Your local council or shire will be able to provide a list of indigenous plants for your garden.
  • Encourage friends and neighbours to become involved as custodians of their environment by following the same guidelines.

Native plants or imported species?

One of the most commonly asked questions at nurseries and garden centres is whether one should use native or exotic plants in the garden. There has long been discussion about this in gardening circles, and more recently the topic of using only locally indigenous or local area natives has become topical. The primary concern of most horticulturists is that gardeners should know the difference so that they may make informed choices.

Natives are, as the name suggests, those plants that occur naturally within Australia. Quite properly, they should be referred to as Australian native plants. Grevillea, Eucalypt and Acacia are all examples. Of course, Australia is a big continent, so what is native to one area or region, may be very different to those found in another. Think for example, of native plants from the dry soils of Western Australia and compare them to the tropical rainforest plants native to Queensland - all Australian natives - but very different plants, with different growing requirements.

In recent years, plant breeders have hybridised many or been able to choose better or 'select' forms that have been sourced from plants growing naturally in the wild. Both hybrids and select forms will have improved characteristics to the parent species. It may be they flower more often or earlier in the season, they may produce better fruit, be disease resistant or they may have a longer life span.

Imported or so called 'exotic' plants are those originating elsewhere, not necessarily the 'exotic tropics' as some people may think.

Indigenous plants are plants that grow naturally in your local area. They are naturally occurring plants of the region and can be seen in local parklands, as remnant plants on roadsides or riverbanks and in local bushland.

Some Australian native plants become 'naturalised' or take over in an area where they would not normally occur such as Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana), Bluebell Creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) and Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum).

Of concern to some conservationists and indigenous plant enthusiasts is the possibility that some introductions may interbreed with local or indigenous plants, thus impacting on the local gene pool.

Most invasive plants are imported or introduced plants. One needs to be informed about these plant species which are the basis of the 'Grow Me Instead' program. However, it is fact that there are a far greater number of well behaved, imported garden plants that are not invasive.

Working on the known statistic that 27,000 plants have been imported into Australia and some 2,700 of these are listed as environmental weeds, it is estimated that approximately 10% of the imported plants in our gardens are invasive.

In modern horticulture, plants are bred, developed or selected for desirable traits such as hardiness, drought tolerance, long flowering season, larger flowers or fruits, their disease resistance and general appeal.

Of primary importance in selecting plant material for your garden is sourcing accurate information about the plant. We suggest that you ask for advice at your local nursery or garden centre.

Consult your local council or Natural Resource Management Board if still in doubt!

Australian native plants have greater appeal today than in the past; they generally grow better because of the improvements made in their selection.

Indigenous species should be grown from seed sourced locally to be of best benefit in your locality.

Australian gardens today have become an eclectic mix of both native and imported plants, and can be complimentary to one another. Choosing one or the other is not the question; ultimately it is the gardeners choice!
Any plant should be acceptable to the Australian gardener so long as it is non-invasive and does not require copious amounts of water, fertilisers and other chemicals to survive.

Grow Me Instead