Add a little Christmas cheer outdoors with these showy natives.
Native to Australia, the waratah is the state flower of New South Wales, where it’s especially prolific. Named by the Eora nation of NSW, waratahs produce vivid red flowers in spring (though some varieties bloom in yellow, pink and white). The “flower” of the waratah is actually made up of as many as 240 individual flowers.
2. Christmas bush
There are several types of Christmas bush, but most recognisable is NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum, pictured below), which grows to around five metres tall and produces sprays of white flowers in spring followed by deep red sepals in summer — the ‘flowers’ it’s known for. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Image from
3. Christmas bell
Of the two types of Christmas bell, the yellow-tipped, cylindrical shaped red flowers of Blandfordia nobilis are most common. Native to eastern Australia, this tufted perennial herb likes well-drained soil and full sun or part shade, with bells in song from December to January. Image from
There are 90 species of mistletoe native to Australia (compared to Europe’s single, white-berried variety) and ecologists believe they are vital to biodiversity — birds love to nest in this evergreen plant. In the northern hemisphere, the strange sight of green mistletoe on leafless trees in winter led to their significance in mythology. The 10-metre-tall Nuytsia floribunda, also known as Western Australian Christmas tree, provides a flamboyant example of this parasitic plant, with a bright flush of yellow flowers in summer. Image from
5. Christmas orchid
Excellent in pots, Calanthe triplicata is native to Oceania and Asia, and is most readily found in Queensland. Give it a sheltered, heavily shaded position with moist soil and you’ll be rewarded with spikes of white flowers come Christmas. Image from
Native to Australia and found mainly in the east and south-east, bottlebrushes also grow in Western Australia and the tropics. They grow well in damp or wet conditions, and flower in spring with their distinctive spiky blooms. Bottlebrushes grow well in backyards, and range from half a metre to four metres. Most species are frost-tolerant. For the best flowers, grow in full sun.