Autumn Gardening: Putting your Garden to Bed for the Winter

February is the beginning of autumn for the “land down-under.” That is, no doubt, common knowledge to the people who live in Australia. It can be somewhat mind-bending for people who live in the northern hemisphere. February is the beginning of cooler temperatures, perhaps a little more rain, harvesting and preparing plants for the winter months ahead.

Australia’s Unique Climate

There is no one-size-fits all for gardens anywhere. Go a hundred miles north or south of any location and things change. Australia’s plant hardiness zones correspond to zones seven through twelve in the northern hemisphere. But knowing what zone your garden is in is only part of the picture. Soil, yearly rainfall patterns, and terrain all play a part in what kind of plants will grow well in your area.

Planning Your Garden and Landscape

While super gardeners seem to be able to grow almost anything, being aware of the kinds of plants that grow best in your zone increases your chances of growing various plants successfully. If you are growing vegetables, making a mistake or two in the types of plants that you put in your garden isn’t such a very big deal. But if you are growing trees or plants that will take a long time to grow, then it is a good idea to consider your growing conditions carefully before selecting specimens for your yard and garden.

Selecting Trees and Shrubs for Your Area

Consulting with a person who grows and sells trees commercially is often a good way to gain information about the trees that will grow well in your landscape. Here is a brief list of trees that grow well in Australia, the zones they prefer and other growing considerations.

  • Dragon tree: Dragon trees are a native of the Canary Islands. There are no official hardiness zone maps for these islands, but they are semi-tropical and located west of Africa, so they fit pretty will with USDA zone 12 or 13, or with the Home Climate zones 1 or 2, as defined by the Building Code of Australia. This means that in Australia, dragon trees should grow well in the northern or north eastern areas. In the US, California or Florida might be naturals for these beautiful trees.


  • Glauca Grass tree: Grass trees are native to Queensland or the southern part of Australia. Needless to say, that makes them a natural as ornamental plants in that area. With that said, it should be remembered that grass trees produce a resin that is flammable. It is a good idea to plant them where a firebreak is possible.


  • Queensland bottle tree: The name says it all. Bottle trees are another tree native to the northern part of Australia. These beautiful trees are easy to grow, transplant friendly – even as adult trees, and naturally store up water against seasons of drought. Their unique trunk shape and spreading top branches make them a beautiful addition to lawn area or along avenues.


  • Avocado tree: Like dragon trees, avocados originate in tropical or semi-tropical areas. They are a lovely tree for your lawn, but if you want to pick fruit it is a good idea to get a tree that has been grafted onto a hardy root stock rather than trying to grow your trees from seed. You will want at least two trees to get fruit. They will be happiest in the northern or north eastern parts of Australia.


  • Olive Tree: When it comes to edible landscaping, it is hard to beat an olive tree. Although they originated around the Mediterranean, olives are now grown all over the world. They like well drained, loamy soils. In Australia, they might prefer zones 2 or 3, but could do all right in zone 6 if planted in protected areas . Olive trees do like quite a bit of water, so if you are growing them in a dryer area, they need irrigation. They also like protection from wind in any location.


  • Tahitian lime tree: This tree likes a slightly acid soil, and can be grown almost anywhere throughout Australia. The Tahitian lime, which is a hybrid of three other types of lime, is more tolerant of cold than other types. They are relatively easy to grow. In autumn, they should produce green to pale yellow fruit that will continue to grow in the cooler months.


Early autumn can be a good time to plant hardy trees, providing you have some means of protecting them from chill winds or other extreme weather conditions. It is often a good time of year for pruning, unless you are dealing with a tree that is producing fruit. If you have deciduous trees, you might want to rake up fallen leaf debris and branches. Grass trees, and similar plants, might need the long, dead needles that hang down from their “top-knot” trimmed and cleaned  up.

Above all, autumn is a good time to assess your garden and landscape to see what needs added, removed, trimmed or improved no matter which hemisphere you are in or what sort of climate you might have.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top