Indigenous plants in Australia have a very precise definition. They are plants that grew in a locality before European settlement, about 200 years ago. Most of these plants have disappeared. And many of the fauna that depend on these ecosystems are extinct or struggling to survive.
The argument is that the fauna evolved alongside these plants, so these plants will best attract and support indigenous wildlife - birds, butterflies, insects, spiders, frogs, mammals and reptiles.
|Clerid beetle (Eleale lepida)|
If you are going to have an indigenous garden, you must use plants that come from your particular local area. Many plants are widely distributed as well as growing locally. There may be subtle genetic variations between them. If you want it to be genuinely indigenous, you need to source seed that comes from your particular area.
|Grasses, with Australia bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta),|
Common Everlastings (Chrysocephalum apiculatum) and indigenous litter
If you want to grow indigenous plants, you have to shop at the indigenous nurseries in your local area. VINC (Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative) sells plants indigenous to the north and east of Melbourne.
In a local hardware shop, I recently found a lovely Hop Bush, Dodonea viscosa, a plant that is indigenous to my area. But it also grows in other places, and there is no knowing where the original parent plant of this specimen came from.
Since the Hop Bush was sourced by a large hardware chain, it was unlikely to be produced from seed - an unreliable, slow and inefficient means of propagation. It would likely be produced by division or cuttings, a method that ends up with a cloned plant. It won't help with preserving genetic diversity if all the plants are clones. And it won't help the fauna that feed on the plants if they all flower at the same time. Staged flowering times will be more likely to provide food for fauna so they can stay in the garden long enough to complete their life cycle and breed.
|Basalt daisy (Brachyscome basaltica var. gracilis)|