Choosing the appropriate garden plants for your garden, your location and your climate is very important if you want to have a successful, well-growing garden. Before buying plants, it’s best to consider where you are going to put them, and what the conditions are in that spot.
How to position your garden plants
Ask yourself questions such as: ‘is the spot well draining or does water collect there?’ and ‘is the soil itself well draining?’ These are two different matters as some spots, such as a sloping spot which is well draining (water runs away easily) but the soil itself is like clay and does not take up water easily. You will need to plant very hardy garden plants here, as its most likely very dry most of the time, even after heavy drain. Unless you are going to dig terraces into it, which will help water uptake, as will adding mulch and organic matter. You could look at Cycads such as the Sago Palm, the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea) and succulents such as the Desert Rose (Adenium obesum).
Ensuring spots are well draining for your garden plants
Another example spot may have water sitting in it when it’s raining, but water drains away quickly. Most garden plants will grow very well in this position. Plants love a good, thorough watering when they’re being watered, and most do not like their roots sitting in water, or soil being waterlogged. A well draining soil is the key to growing most plants well. If your soil is not well draining, consider planting on mounds, or add things which aid drainage such as Perlite, river sand or Vermiculite. You might be able to dig some drains into it to help water run away.
Choosing garden plants for soggy spots
A spot which has water sit in it for a long time is a very tricky spot to find a suitable garden plant for. Most plants do not like their roots sitting in water, and most will not tolerate it at all. Soil will be very compacted and hard to penetrate, and rot is a serious issue. You need to look at plants which originate in swamps or riversides and which can handle those wet conditions. A lot of Gingers would be well suited to this spot, as are Canna Lillies. Swamp lilies will grow well and Majestic Palms could be a possibility also (Ravenea rivularis). Of course you will need to check the individual plant growing requirements.
You will also need to consider what temperature range your garden is subjected to. If it’s going to be below 0 degrees you will need to select garden plants which are frost tolerant, or you will need to do a lot of work on trying to protect them from the cold. It is possible to build constructions covered in plastic or glass, but this may not be practical and it may be easier to select a plant which can handle the conditions.
Frost hardy plants include the Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum), Agapanthus africanus, the Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea) or the Mauritius Hemp (Furcrea foetida Medio-Picta). You can also check out our cold hardy plants category in our online nursery. Heat is not normally a problem, providing the other factors like shade and humidity are appropriate for the plant.
Amount of sunlight
Picking the appropriate plants for the amount of sunlight a spot gets is one of the most important parts of designing your garden. Some plants will never be strong and healthy without enough sunlight, and so will not be suitable to a position in shade, such as Bougainvillea. Other plants will wilt or get burned leaves with too much direct sun light, such as the Ruffled Fan Palm (Licuala grandis) and Showy Medinilla, which are both rainforest understory plants. Philodendron is another one. They will much prefer a part shade to full shade position and will not thrive in a sunny spot in the garden, they may even die altogether.
Humidity in your garden
Humidity is a factor which is often under-estimated in garden design and garden planning. Plants from a tropical rainforest in summer come from very humid conditions, where the temperatures are very high but the humidity is also very high. Shade levels are also quite high, keeping moisture at the plant level. These types of plants, when grown in southern or inland parts of Australia, don’t grow as well as they would up north (in the tropics or subtropics) because of the dry hot summers they experience down there.
Temperatures may be the same, a top of 35 and a minimum of 5 degrees for example, but this doesn’t mean the same plant will thrive in both gardens because of the humidity difference. Garden plants for high humidity positions would be the Florida Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), the Fruit Salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) and Lipstick Palm. If your garden has low humidity; you could grow Clivia’s, Geisha Girls, Acalypha and Yucca’s.
Palm Trees as garden plants
As to selecting some Palm Trees for your garden, here’s some examples for 2 different spots. For example, if you're in Brisbane and you have a spot in your garden which has full sun most of the day you could look at something like a Golden Cane Palm, a Bangalow Palm or a Christmas Palm (plus many others).
In the same garden, you also have a spot on the shady side of the house, or shady spot in the garden. For this spot, you would more so look at a Ruffled Fan Palm (Licuala grandis) a Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) or a Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). Another example is if you have a garden which is subject to frost, say in Melbourne. You would need to make sure your palms are frost hardy.
For a full sun position they would also need to be very heat tolerant as Melbourne experience some pretty hot days. For a full sun position in your garden you could look at a Queen Palm (or Cocos Palm as it's sometimes called) a Dwarf Date Palm or a Sago Palm (which is actually a cycad). In a shady position, you could look at growing a Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa) or Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans).
Wherever your garden is located, you will be able to find suitable garden plants which will grow well for you. It's just a matter of following these simple principles and making sure you do your product research. If we can help you further with selecting garden plants, please contact Lush Plants Nursery Australia