Australian Native Ground Cover Plants

Low-growing and sprawling ground cover plants native to Australia often are well-adapted to hot, sunny garden sites as well as less-than-fertile garden soils. Sometimes referred to as being "prostrate" or "procumbent" in habit, even some clumping perennial plants serve the purpose of stabilizing soil on hillsides or to provide visual texture on the floor of a landscape. Generally, plant Australian native ground covers where only light winter frost might occur, corresponding to USDA Hardiness Zones 10 or warmer.

Emu Bush

Native to most parts of Australia except Tasmania, the emu bush or fuchsia bush (Eremophila glabra) displays medium green to gray foliage year-round. Typically in autumn and winter, the shrubs bear tubular, lipped flowers that are red, orange, yellow or green. Prostrate-growing cultivated varieties (cultivars) to look for include Silver Ball, Kalbarrie Carpet and Silver Spread, which grow 1 to 2 feet tall but 2 to 4 feet wide.

Prostrate Grevillea

Three species of grevillea shrubs offer sprawling habits that lend themselves well to ground covers. Grevillea lanigera, Grevillea lavandulacea and Grevillea rosmarinifolia are all native to southeastern mainland Australia and offer cultivars that grow no taller than 1 to 2 feet but spread 3 to 15 feet. Grevillea thelemanniana is another ground cover shrub, but is a native of Western Australia.

Blueberry Flax

Blueberry flax, also called flax lily (Dianella spp.), has two species that are both native to eastern Australia can be planted to create a tall, herbaceous, grass-like carpet. Growing 18 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide, the tufts of Dianella caerulea yield wiry flower stems that bear round, shiny blue berries. Dark blue berries form on Dianella tasmanica, which grows 3 to 4 feet tall and 18 to 24 inches wide in large tufted clumps. The Variegata cultivar has white and green foliage and is more attractive than all-green leaf plants.

Creeping Boobialla

Native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania, creeping boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) is a small spreading shrub with sticky stems. Honey-scented, white or spotted lilac flowers appear in summer followed by purple berries. It grows no taller than 24 inches and spreads 2 to 4 feet wide.

Keywords: Australian ground covers, prostrate Australian shrubs, Australian perennials

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.