Planting Guide

Soil Preparation

Aeration and good drainage are essential for a strong root system and healthy growth.

Improve the soil by:

Remove all weeds as they compete for space and food.

Dig area that you are planting in to a depth of 25-30cm, breaking up any clods of soil.

If soil is heavy clay, add gypsum ( 1-1.5kg/sq.m) or soil conditioner and fork well into soil.

With light, sandy soil, dig in well rotted compost or soil conditioner.

Badly drained areas may need some artificial drainage or soil levels will have to be raised. Only use a native garden mix when raising soil levels for natives.


Soak plant thoroughly before removing from the container.

Dig the hole twice the width and one and a half times the depth of the plant container. Make sure to break up the soil at the bottom of the hole thoroughly.

Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain away.

Add controlled release fertiliser, about a tablespoon, and thoroughly mix in with the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Make sure not to disturb major roots and check roots are not coiled at the bottom of the container.

Place plant into hole and backfill with soil and press firmly so plant is well held in place. There is no need to stamp around the plant as this will compact the soil and not allow plant roots to move through the soil.

Water well.

If your topsoil is shallow and underneath is heavy clay, build up soil to a height where the plant’s roots are just above the topsoil and the diameter of the mound is 1m to prevent drying out.

In warmer weather it is advisable that your newly planted plant be watered at least once a week until they become established.


Fertilise plants at time of planting. I recommend using a controlled-release fertiliser such as Osmocote at a rate of 1 tablespoon per plant. This can be mixed in with the soil at planting time before the plant is placed in planting hole. When the plant is watered in, the Osmocote will start to become active as it is heat and moisture activated.

Cow manure may be used and mixed in with the soil but must be very well composted and kept away from the base of the plant.

Liquid fertilisers such as Seasol are useful as a tonic for plants and can be used every fortnight at a slightly reduced rate to improve plant health and root growth while plant is becoming established.


While it is better not to stake plants, in heavy wind areas, correctly staked plants will ensure a healthy root system develops.

Use strong hardwood stakes that won’t rot.

Use stocking material or fabric that is broad and long-lasting.

Stake so that plant will be blown away from stake and not onto it.

Don’t place stake too close to the trunk.

Check ties regularly to make sure they aren’t cutting into plant.

Remove stake and tie when no longer needed.


Mulch conserves water and keeps the roots of plants cool in the hot months of the year. The type of mulch used will come down to personal preference.

Leaf litter mulch breaks down quickly and will need to be replaced every six months. This mulch feeds the plants as it breaks down, becoming a natural fertiliser for your plants.

Cypress Mulch is a course mulch that is longer lasting, topped up every 12-18 months and is also a termite deterrent. Acid loving plants like natives benefit from this mulch.

Pine bark Mulch is much longer lasting, topped up every 2 years.


In their natural habitat, native plants are regularly pruned by animals and birds and therefore grow better as a result.

Pruning encourages more flowers, removes dead branches, encourages healthy, vigorous growth, shapes the plant and increases the lifespan of the plant.

Tip pruning is one of the best methods, especially when the plant is young. Tip prune by simply pinch out soft tips or terminal buds with your thumb and forefinger. Generally, tip pruning can be done at any time of the year but more often than not, in the warmer months of the year as the plants are in active growth.

General pruning may be carried out after flowering. Cut off old flower heads and remove branches to the nearest healthy new growth point.


Ceratopetalum gummiferum 'Alberys Red' - NSW Christmas Bush

H: 3-4m

W: 2m

Red bracts at Christmas make this a stand out in the garden. Water and feed well while establishing and prune after flowering to maintain a bushy habit. Mulch well for summer heat.