Growing WA natives in coastal NSW – 8 tips for success

By Jeff Howes

A reader recently asked for advice on growing Western Australian eucalypts in Sydney. Jeff Howes put on his thinking cap and came up with the following eight tips:

  1. Sourcing plants is not always easy in Sydney though  there are a few options to try:
    • Search for specialist native plant nurseries in the Sydney area first as they often have a range of WA gums. They also will have a range of grafted eucalypts.
    • See if you can source them by mail order from WA and sent by courier.
    • Obtain seed and grow them yourself.
  2. The WA eucalypts that are most desired by east coast gardeners generally grow in inland areas with low rainfall and low humidity. In Sydney this means you need to have a garden with free draining soils. If that is not possible, raise your garden beds 600 to 800 mm high with a good quality commercial native plant mix.
  3. Choose a position with full sun most of the day and good air flow to reduce humidity i.e. no other plants growing around them.
  4. Mulch with course gravel to ensure moisture is not collected around the root area and heat is transferred back up to plant to mimic natural growing conditions.
  5. Once you have obtained plants, research when they normally receive rain and when they don’t and mimic those conditions. Sydney’s summer rainfall and humidity is the opposite to WA conditions. I had some good success with WA gums because Sydney had a few ‘dry’ summers and eucs got well established
  6. Fertilise with a a product suitable for natives.
  7. If all this is too hard, purchase large plastic pots and grow them in that as drainage is more manageable.
  8. If you are going to grow some of the many grafted Corymbia ficifolia species, then little of the above applies as these ones are grafted onto amore hardy rootstock and more tolerant of in-ground conditions. These plant will take a while to flower, maybe years. Check with the supplier.