Australian Plants for San Diego Gardens

Plants from areas around the world with Mediterranean-style climates like ours fit easily into San Diego gardens. One rich source is Australia and one of Down Under's biggest fans is Mo Price, a Master Gardener who lectures on Australian plants. Below are some of her favorites, all tested in her Encinitas garden. Give these flowering beauties good drainage and once established, minimal water unless otherwise noted.

Dampiera diversifolia - This trailing groundcover, ideal for rockeries, slopes and containers, is covered with brilliant purple-blue flowers in spring and summer. Spreads up to 6 feet wide, but is not invasive or weedy. Tolerates moderate frost and some drought. Full sun, except inland where afternoon shade is desirable.

Thryptomene - These tough shrubs 2-3 feet tall and wide bloom non-stop with dainty pink or white starry flowers that can be cut for bouquets. Not fussy about soil if well drained; easily pruned to shape. Full sun to part-shade.

Dianella (Flax Lily) - Aborigines favor the fibrous strappy leaves of some species to weave baskets. Gardeners love them for their blue flowers with sunny yellow stamens that are followed by electric blue berries that last for months. Forms clumps 2 feet tall. Newer hybrids have variegated leaves. Moderate water.

Eremophila (Emu Bush) - The name of these 4 foot tall and wide shrubs means "desert loving" which suggest how important it is to provide full sun and only minimal water. Tubular pink or yellow flowers in summer are followed by fleshy fruits popular with birds and other animals. Thickish leaves vary from green to blue- and gray-green.

Grevillea lanigera (Woolly Grevillea) - Spidery pink and cream flowers cover this gray-green leaved shrub from January through October. Mounding to 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Many hybrids, including dwarfs, are available. Full sun.

These plants and many other Australian natives can be found at specialty nurseries throughout San Diego County.


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