Salt Tolerant Plants

An email came today asking for assistance with species that would grow in bore water with high salt readings. This is a difficulty for many in the mallee areas of South Australia and no doubt other parts of the country too. In many cases it becomes trial and error to see what  would grow in such a situation, but some lists have been compiled by members of the Australian Plants Society which give a good starting point.

There are some things to consider.

  • There is a need to ensure that watering is deep.
  • Choose plants from areas which have the same rainfall situation ie same amount of rain, at the same time of year. This is to ensure that plants will get minimum exposure to the high salinity.
  • If possible place highly desirable plants near an alternative water source, eg rain water, to get them well established without the saline water.

List of Australian Native Plants with salt tolerance.

1st Line Coast

Ground Covers, Climbers and Low Spreading Plants

Correa decumbens

Dianella revoluta

Eremophila glabra prostrate cerise form

Eremopohila glabra prostrate red form

Grevillea ‘Seaspray’

Isolepis nodosa

Kunzea pomifera

Leuocophyta brownii

Orthrosanthos laxus

Rhagodia spinescens

Scaevola crassifolia

Templetonia retusa prostrate form

Shrubs 1-2m

Atriplex cinerea

Callistemon rugulosus

Eremophila calorhabdos

Eremophila glabra (Rottnest Island)

Hakea cycloptera

Olearia axillaries

Templetonia retusa

Westringia fruticosa

Shrubs over 2m.

Atriplex nummularia

Callistemon teretifolius

Hakea drupacea

Melaleuca nesophila

More lists will be available soon.

Swainsona formosa (Sturt’s Desert Pea)

Swainsona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

Swainsona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

Swainsona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

Swainsona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

Swaisona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

Swaisona formosa (Sturt's Desert Pea) Photo M Tranent

I was sent some lovely photos of Sturt’s Desert Pea by a reader of this blog. As you can see, the plant is dense and lush, as you would want to have it in the garden, not in a state of survival.

Sturt Peas need to be watered. They respond with excellent growth and numerous flowers. Water well pots are very good.

The only exception to this might be if you had a self sown plant. These are remarkably hardy as self sown plants seem to send the roots very deep.

They also respond to being fed. Use a fertiliser designed for native plants.

In the photos the plant is growing in a raised bed. It has been shown that so long as the planting mound is at least 10cm(4 inches) above the surrounding soil, that will give the required good drainage.

Olearia passerinoides

Olearia passerinoides (Daisy Bush)

Olearia passerinoides (Daisy Bush)

Olearia passerinoides is a mallee daisy and is quite a large bush with bright  green leaves, different to many mallee daisies which often have grey green leaves. Although this is a shrub, to me it behaves as a perennial shrub, in that new growth appears along the older wood.

The bush has a tendency to become scruffy, with the leaves higher up the stems and the flowers also high. If it was cut back to the lower growths, it would have dense foliage and be a more compact plant, and I suspect the flowering would also be quite spectacular.

As usual, I promise myself that I will do this, and yet another season goes buy. Mine have just finished flowering, so out with the secateurs tomorrow, while I think of it.

Olearia passerinoides is drought, lime and frost tolerant. It has clusters of small white daisies and grows to 2-3m tall by about 1.5-2m wide if left to its own devices. Pruning will keep it to a more compact size.

Propagating Australian Native Plants

There has been relief from the heatwaves and I have been potting on struck cuttings as fast as I could. I wanted them in their pots and in the hot house before the next burst of heat. New roots dry out so quickly when planting on. Sometimes I have taken potting mix, seedlings, pots and boxes for the plants inside to work, but the hassle is still finding somewhere to store the newly potted seedlings. Not to mention the mess to clean up and the lugging of boxes of plants to the hot house.

The hot house has allowed me to keep the survival rate very high as the humidity keeps a blanket of moisture around the soft leaves. The next step is gradual hardening off.

I have a number of plants I am looking forward to planting out next month, taking advantage of the warm ground to get them growing well before the frosts slow things down. Unfortunately it means bucketing extra drinks to the plants until the rains in late autumn, but it will be worth it to have them well established before next summer.

I want to do a survey around town to see what has survived this summer and under what conditions, drippers, hand watering or none at all.

Dampiera rosmarinifolia

Dampiera rosmarinifolia

Dampiera rosmarinifolia

I found another good photo of this suckering plant which spreads by underground shoots form the root stock. It is a good hardy plant to have in a perennial border. It is easily kept confined.

It is drought tolerant and frost hardy and grows in lime soils.