Australia is an island continent situated in the southern hemisphere. The climate of Australia varies greatly, from the tropical conditions in the north to the extremely dry climate of the interior and southern tip. According to the Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, 80 percent of Australia receives less than 23 inches of rain annually. It only stands to reason that with such a varying climate would come a wide variety of plant types.
Native Australian Hibiscus
The native Australian hibiscus (Hibiscus splendens) was deemed the king of all plants by the colonial botanist, Charles Fraser. The hibiscus can range in size from ground cover and small plants, reaching 7 inches in height, to trees that grow to 42 feet. Most hibiscus species prefer a tropical or subtropical, environment, but they will grow in other areas provided the annual rainfall for that area is high enough. The hibiscus flower can vary in color from white, red, purple, pink or various shades of yellow. In Brisbane, the local species of hibiscus quite frequently bloom all year round. These blooms attract the local Lorikeet bird, which will flock to the plant, in droves, in order to eat its seed capsules.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is best known for the essential oil extracted from its leaves and twigs. The oil has natural, antiseptic properties and is used often in aromatherapy and natural medicine. The tea tree is considered an evergreen shrub that can grow to a size of 19 feet by 13 feet. It needs moist, but well-drained, soils in order to thrive. It is a shade-tolerant plant that can withstand temperatures down to 19 F. To grow tea tree start it from seed in the spring or fall. Tea tree shrubs can be grown in plant pots for their first year, but they need to remain in a greenhouse to protect them from cold weather, until they are hardy enough to be transplanted outside.
Pale Vanilla Lily
The pale vanilla lily (Arthoropodium milleflorum) prefers moist, grassy areas with peaty, well-draining soils. It thrives in full sun exposure, as long as it is provided with shelter from wind, and can withstand temperatures down to 19 F. It is considered a perennial plant that will bloom usually in the May. The pale vanilla lily can be propagated by seeds sown in the late winter. Plant the seeds in a plant pot, set inside a greenhouse, and continue to grow the plant in the greenhouse for a full year. It will be ready to transplant outside in its second spring.
The roots of the pale vanilla lily are edible, after being cooked.