The climate of Australia, both a country and a continent, ranges from hot and humid in the north to cool and temperate in the south. Because of its size and physical isolation, Australia has a number of distinctive native flowers. Some flowers, such as the spider orchid, are endangered. Others, including pink everlasting and the Sturt desert pea, grow well in native Australian gardens.
The spider orchid is native to western Australia. This flower grows from a plant with spear-like leaves 2 to 3 ½ inches long and about 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide. Flowers from this orchid grow on stems 2 to 3 ½ inches long and reach ½ to 3/4 inch in diameter. The green flowers feature red lines and markings. This orchid grows in the ground from a tuber. Its leaves appear in winter, with the flower growing between September and October. This orchid is endangered because of human development and is only found on the lower slopes of Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie outside Canberra. Spider orchids grow under the protective cover of a taller forest canopy.
Pink everlasting, one of many native Australian daisies, grows to around 4 inches tall and 4 inches in spread. This annual features showy, pink paper-daisy type flowers. Pink everlasting grows best in full sun and in open beds. It grows well both from nursery plants and from seed sown fresh in the fall.
Sturt Desert Pea
The Sturt desert pea, the floral emblem of South Australia, consists of a vine that runs along the ground with a larger pea-like blossom, deep red with a black spot in the middle. This perennial has greenish gray leaves. Fine, downy hairs cover the leaves and stems of this plant. The flowers of the Sturt desert pea are about 3 ½ inches long. The flowers develop into a 2-inch-long pea pod that splits open to release its kidney-shaped seeds. This plant grows natively in central Australia. The Sturt desert pea grows best in full sun and needs protection from snails. Once the seeds establish, they do well without irrigation. However, the hard seed coatings must be nicked before they will germinate.