The Best Australian Flowering Trees | Add A Burst Of Colour To Your Garden
Nothing epitomises Spring more than a burst of flowering colour from your favourite tree. Many of the best Australian flowering trees also produce blooms that exude a divine perfume as well. Here is a guide to some of our favourites. If colour is your primary motivator for choosing a flowering tree, we have also highlighted some of the best purple, red and yellow varieties of flowering Australian trees.
Ivory Curl (Buckinghamia Celsissima)
This is a wonderful tree for the garden that can grow up to ten metres tall, but it takes quite a few years to get that big! It flowers in Summer, with long creamy flowerheads that often completely hide the dark green, glossy foliage. It makes a wonderful feature plant, screen or windbreak and tolerates light frosts and temperatures down to zero once established. It does prefer a warm temperate or subtropical climate, however, it will handle long, dry periods and heavy rain. It will grow in a low-maintenance garden, and care-wise, trimming back the plant after flowering will help maintain a good shape. It also attracts wildlife, including butterflies, bees and nectar-eating birds.
Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus Reticulatus)
This hardy plant is an Australian native found naturally along the Eastern coast of Australia from the northern parts of Tasmania, extending through to Fraser Island in Queensland. It will tolerate most conditions except for heat, cold and arid conditions and can grow up to 15 metres, but will flourish if kept cut back to maintain its density. Visually, it’s stunning, with deep green foliage that turns to red and masses of tiny fringed pink or white flowers during spring and summer that look like lampshades or ballerina skirts. The ornamental display continues with the appearance of dark blue berries (hence its name), making this a spectacular tree for year-round interest.
Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia Citriodora)
Lemon myrtle makes an excellent feature plant in backyard gardens, and nothing beats the lovely citrusy scent of the glossy green leaves as you brush past this tree. Its leaves are also fantastic as a food flavouring, especially in Thai dishes. This small to medium-growing tree can range in height from three to 20 metres, although it will rarely reach its full height when grown in a suburban garden. It bears large heads of creamy pom-pom-type flowers and should be pruned well after flowering. Pruning will also allow you to train its size and shape. It needs a warm-temperate to tropical climate and plenty of water but it will tolerate short periods of low temperatures and drought to about 90 days if grown in good, well-mulched soil.
Lilly Pilly (Syzygium)
Lilly Pillies are popular Australian natives that grow in a variety of soil types and conditions. They are commonly grown as hedges and make perfect screening plants. There are around 60 different Lilly Pilly varieties that are native to Australia and Southeast Asia. In addition, quite a few different hybrids and cultivars have become popular across the country. All garden-friendly varieties have attractive year-round foliage, colourful fruit, delightful flowers and, depending on the species, exquisite new growth in shades of bronze, pink and copper. They are easy to grow and care for, suit most climates (except the driest and coldest), and will handle a range of soils.
Australian White Oak (Grevillea Baileyana)
This medium to large tree can grow well from as far south as Melbourne and right up to north Queensland. It makes a great feature tree. Its leaves are large and shiny and lobed with bronze undersides that glow brilliantly when tossed by the wind. Sprays of honey-scented cream-coloured flowers complement these in summer. It will grow in most soils – even sandy and loamy soils – and will thrive in a sunny and lightly shaded spot. It prefers regular watering but will tolerate drought for up to 90 days. Virtually maintenance free, probably its only downside is that its roots can be invasive, so don’t plant anywhere near buildings, drainage, pathways or pipes!
Hickory Wattle (Acacia Implexa)
(image sourced fromhttps://www.recreatingthecountry.com.au/blog/lightwood-hickory-wattle)
This is a small to medium evergreen, upright tree native to Australia and reaches a height of eight to ten metres. The Hickory Wattle is a great tree for coastal plantings and gardens in full sun and will grow almost anywhere around the country – even in the outback – as long as it receives some supplementary water in summer. It is also frost-tolerant once established. Features include an open crown, long, slender green leaves and pale yellow flowers in Summer. In terms of care, it can tolerate a range of conditions, and although it likes well-drained soil in a sunny position, it can handle wet and dry soils. It is a good idea to mulch around the base of the tree to protect the roots, as suckering is common if the roots become damaged.
Willow Bottlebrush (Callistemon Salignus)
Renowned as one of the very best Australian trees, this species of Bottlebrush is one of the hardiest you can find. It will grow in part shade or full sun, tolerate periods of drought and waterlogged soils and even handle heavy frosts! Its attractive new growth is red, and its stunning flowers that appear in Spring, Summer and Autumn range from cream to white. It will grow to a height of around ten metres, but beware! This tree has invasive roots to plant at least ten metres away from pathways, pipes and buildings. However, on the plus side, it attracts lots of wildlife, from bees and butterflies to nectar-eating birds.
Pincushion Hakea (Hakea Laurina)
This evergreen tree can reach a height of around six metres and features bluish foliage and white, red, cream and pink “pincushion” flowers from late autumn and throughout winter. Budding starts in late summer, and it flowers best in a sunny spot as part shade will lessen the number of flowers and create a more sparse growth habit. It is frost tolerant when established, however, it’s a shallow-rooted plant, so it can be affected by windy weather. It can be grown in sandy and loamy soils, but it should be well-drained. Because it has a non-invasive root system, it is suitable for planting close to your home.
Dwarf Apple Gum (Angophora Hispida)
This beautiful tree can grow to a height of around six metres. In summer, it is covered with large clusters of fluffy, cream-coloured flowers, and when not in bloom, it will astonish you with its beautiful bark and gorgeous new growth that is red in colour. Nectar-feeding birds absolutely love its flowers and will flock to your yard in droves. The flowers also attract a variety of colourful beetles. It will tolerate coastal exposure and a wide variety of soils, although until it becomes fully established, it will need some frost protection. It will grow happily in a sunny position but will tolerate some light shade.
Australian Trees With Purple Flowers
Undoubtedly one of the most popular Australian trees with purple flowers, many of us look forward to the attractive purple haze that descends across the country every spring as the tree blooms into colour. A genus of over forty flowering plants in the Bignoniaceae family, the Jacaranda isn’t native to Australia. It originates from the tropical regions of South America, although it has been widely seen in the country for over 150 years. It is fast-growing and can reach up to thirty metres tall, so it needs plenty of room to grow and won’t be suitable for all gardens. They will tolerate light shade but will flourish in full sun.
Magnolia “Royal Purple”
Perfect for smaller gardens, Magnolia “Royal Purple” is a deciduous tree with an upright habit that is great for adding interest and height to an outdoor space. It’s also very versatile as it grows well in pots, so it can be used to add interest to patios and decks. In late Winter to early Spring, breathtaking pink-purple flowers appear that start as cup-shaped before opening into showy, flamboyant flowers. Glossy, green foliage then emerges after flowering. In terms of care, plant in a sunny spot where it can enjoy light shade in the afternoons. It can tolerate a wide range of soils but prefers those that are deep and moist.
Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
These small purple flowering trees grow to around four metres tall and are perfect for a small garden or front yard. They are widely cultivated in temperate, warm and subtropical regions. It has aromatic, grey-green leaves with shimmery silver undersides and produces long trusses of lilac-purple blooms on tall stems in mid-summer. These are followed by dark purple fruit. Butterflies also love its aromatic foliage! Chaste trees are hardy, relatively drought tolerant, and grow well in most soil types. They prefer full sun, although they will tolerate partial shade.
Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca Nesophila)
This small-growing tree is native to the southwest coast of Western Australia but is very adaptable and suited to coastal gardens and colder, inland areas. It will only reach a height of around five metres, so it is perfect for any Australian backyard. It has aromatic, vibrant green foliage, and many varieties have purple (to pink) “pompom” flowers that bloom in spring and summer, so it is long-flowering. The flowers open bright and fade as they age to give a two-toned look. Still beautiful! It will grow in most soil types and is happy in part-shade or full sun. It will also tolerate heavy frosts. It is rarely troubled by pests or disease and makes a fantastic windbreak or screening plant. It also attracts bees, butterflies and nectar-eating birds and is the ideal habitat for smaller birds.
Australian Trees With Red Flowers
Callistemon (Melaleuca Viminalis)
This Australian tree with red flowers is another popular species that, in its natural state, grows in wet, Eucalypt forests and along water courses where it performs a vital function stabilising creek banks. One of the prettiest of the Callistemons, it will grow up to ten metres and has willow-like drooping branches and is an ideal feature tree if you want to incorporate a vertical element into your garden design. It produces a stunning splash of red colour in spring (although some varieties also have pink and cream blooms). It will tolerate most conditions, from drought to water-logging. Regular pruning will create a denser tree useful for screening or as a windbreak. However, its graceful, weeping habit will be less obvious if you do so. Plant in full or partial sun and moist, well-drained soil for best results. Once established, this tree will tolerate extended dry periods.
This genus comprises around one hundred species of tree referred to as eucalyptus and are some of the greatest small evergreen trees in Australia. The hybrid cultivars “Summer Red” and “Summer Beauty” are ideal for home gardens for their size. They have large glossy dark green leaves and large bee and bird-attracting red flowers (although they can also be pink). The peak flower display is in summer, when the tree’s canopy is virtually covered with huge clusters of flowers, each up to 20 millimetres across. They tolerate most conditions, from zero temperatures for short periods to drought and even prolonged heavy rainfall. Pruning is also unnecessary except to remove the lower branches so you can walk under them.
This small to medium tree (it typically grows between ten and twenty metres) is attractive and makes a lovely ornamental specimen. It will also tolerate pruning to limit its size if you’re after a smaller tree. Its dense canopy of glossy green foliage makes it a great shade tree, and its red flowers (other varieties have white or pink flowers) add to its visual appeal. It’s also a great source of nectar for bees and other foragers. Highly drought tolerant, it also tolerates frost and a wide range of climates from sub-tropical and warm temperate to cool and cool temperate. Various parts of the plant provided food sources to Indigenous Australians, the roasted seeds can be eaten, ground as a coffee substitute and used in bread, and the tap root is edible, a nutritious vegetable similar to carrot.
Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius)
The Illawarra Flame Tree grows in the wild from coastal New South Wales north into Queensland. It can grow to a height of around 20 metres (but is usually much smaller when grown in a garden). Somewhat irregular in its flowering, leaves may persist all year, with spot flowering occurring concurrently with foliage. When it does flower, it is certainly a sight to behold, with its flaming red bell-shaped flowers in pendulous clusters lighting up the landscape. They are relatively hardy trees that will grow in sun or shade, but they flower best in full sun. Water regularly until they become established. An interesting fact to note is that the Cold Chisel anthem was named after this species!
Fire Wheel Tree (Stenocarpus Sinuatus)
This is another Queensland tree with interesting-shaped leaves, an erect, column-like crown of large, lobed, glossy green leaves and new growth that is maroon in colour. It can grow to a height of eight metres. The Fire Wheel Tree is also one of Australia’s most spectacular rainforest trees and is absolutely striking when in full bloom with its bright red, whorled flowers, which cover the canopy in summer. It tolerates a wide range of soils and conditions, including dry periods once established. For maximum growth, expose to full sun and keep well watered and mulched during dry weather. This tree prefers soil that has a high concentration of organic matter and has a high lime content. Fertilise with slow-release fertiliser in spring.
Australian Trees With Yellow Flowers
Golden Penda (Xanthostemon Chrysanthus)
You can’t go past the Golden Penda if you’re after an Australian tree with yellow flowers. A spectacular flowering rainforest tree, it grows ten to fifteen metres tall in the wild but less in cultivation and is easily pruned to shrub size if desired. It has attractive foliage (large, glossy leaves) and shape year-round, as well as beautiful, big, fluffy yellow flowers that appear in Summer and Autumn and attract nectar-feeding wildlife. It prefers warmer climates but can be grown in cooler temperate areas, but flowering may be erratic, and the plant will be less vigorous. It will tolerate light frost and short periods of temperatures down to zero and will thrive with plenty of water in summer and planting in moist, well-drained soil.
Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia Baileyana)
This is a very fast-growing small tree that can grow to a height of around eight metres. It has beautiful grey feathery foliage and bright yellow flowers in winter. The winter flowering is often so prolific that it can hide the foliage! The colour and texture of the leaves is a lovely year-round feature. It prefers warm or cool temperature climates and full sun or light shade. It can handle most soil types and is very hardy, so it can tolerate drought and light frosts. It will also attract lots of wildlife, particularly bees and seed-eating birds.
Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia Longifolia)
This small, fast-growing, bushy evergreen tree creates a stunning show of tubular, feathery, light-yellow flowers that appear in late Winter and early Spring. This beautiful wattle can reach a height of around seven metres and spreads to a width of four metres, so it makes an excellent windbreak or screen around other delicate plants. It is both frost and drought-tolerant and can withstand windy and salty areas. To flourish, it requires full sun and well-drained soil.
Hairpin Banksia (Banksia Spinulosa)
This Australian native is from the family Proteaceae and can grow up to four metres tall. It is often used for ornamental purposes as its yellow flowers form long spikes and bloom in Autumn and Winter. It is commonly known as “Hairpin Banksia” because of its distinctive, narrow leaves. Because of its long flowering period, it makes a good food source for nectar-loving wildlife and honeyeaters that feed on its seeds. Because it naturally grows from coastal Victoria to Cairns along the coast and to the ranges, it is adaptable to a range of conditions and is rarely troubled by pests or diseases. It can tolerate a range of soils, from clay loam to light sandy soils, and like most banksias, a good native fertiliser is the best choice. A light tip pruning when young will help form a more dense plant, and once established, it can be pruned after flowering as well.
- 2023, Top Ten Australian Flowering Trees, Gardenezi
- 2023, Purple Flowering Trees to Grow in Australia, Aussie Green Thumb
- Steve Kropp, 2023, 12 Australian Native Flowering Trees, Ultimate Backyard
- 2015, Buckinghamia celsissima – Ivory Curl Tree, Gardening with Angus
- 2023, Elaeocarpus reticulatus. Blueberry Ash, Specialty Trees
- 2015, Grevillea baileyana – Brown Silky Oak, Gardening with Angus
- 2023, Acacia implexa. Lightwood, Hickory Wattle. Specialty Trees.
- 2015, Callistemon salignus – Willow Bottlebrush. Gardening with Angus.
- 2015, Angophora hispida – Dwarf Apple Gum, Gardening with Angus
- 2017, Hakea laurina – Pincushion Hakea, Gardening with Angus
- 2023, Magnolia × soulangeana ‘Royal Purple’, Specialty Trees
- 2018, Melaleuca nesophila – Honey Myrtle, Gardening with Angus
- Judy Tulloch, 2020, Native Plant of the Month – Melaleuca viminalis (Formerly Callistemon viminalis), Noosa Coastcare
- 2023, Corymbia Cultivars, Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
- 2016, Brachychiton populneus – Kurrajong Tree, Gardening with Angus
- 2023, Flame Tree. Brachychiton acerifolius, The Diggers Club
- 2023, Stenocarpus sinuatus ‘QLD Fire Wheel Tree’, Ellenby Tree Farm
- 2015, Xanthostemon chrysanthus – Golden Penda, Gardening with Angus
- 2015, Acacia baileyana – Cootamundra Wattle, Gardening with Angus
- 2023, Sydney Golden Wattle. Acia longifolia, Flower Power
- 2022, Banksia spinulosa – Hairpin Banksia, Gardening with Angus