Shrubs are an important element of any good garden. Shrubs provide food, shelter and nesting sites for many different kinds of birds, insects, butterflies and other creatures.
Shrubs are particularly important if you want to see small birds in your garden, as these tiny creatures need somewhere to hide from predators such as cats and bigger birds.
Nectar giving shrubs are an excellent choice to attract birds and insects to your garden. They provide a crucial food source and encourage a healthy ecosystem in your backyard.
Some great nectar giving shrubs include:
Kangaroo Paw – Anigozanthos spp. These plants have lovely, bright flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red, green and pink, which attract honeyeaters and nectar eating birds such as the Superb Fairy-wren and Eastern Spinebill. Kangaroo Paws grow across Australia.
Twiggy Heath Myrtle – Baeckea virgata. This plant will attract and feed nectar-feeding butterflies, beetles and tree-frogs. It grows in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.
Banksias – Banksia spp. There are many different kinds of Banksias and they grow to different heights and sizes, so do a bit of research to get a local native one of an appropriate size for your garden. Banksias provide larval food for butterflies. Birds love to hide in these dense shrubs and they help protect smaller birds from predators. Honeyeaters take nectar and insects from Banksias. Some Banksias also provide seeds for Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. Different kinds of Banksias grow across Australia.
Sand Bottlebrush – Beaufortia squarrosa. This plant attracts honeyeaters and nectar eating birds. It grows in the south western districts of Western Australia.
Common Appleberry – Billardiera scandens. This climber will feed birds such as the Lewins Oriole, Olive-backed Oriole, and Satin Bowerbird. Butterflies love to drink its nectar, and skinks eat its soft fruits. It grows in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia.
Sunset Serenade – Boronia muelleri. This plant attracts several different kinds of butterflies, particularly Painted Lady Butterflies and Common Brown Butterflies. This plant grows in eastern Victoria.
Callistemons, also known as Bottlebrushes – Callistemon spp. Callistemons are famous for their brushy, showy flowers, which are overflowing with nectar and attract nectar eating birds and honeyeaters. They’re also good plants for birds to shelter and sometimes nest in, and they also attract insects which birds love to eat. Some Callistemon provide seeds for rosellas, and fruits for some parrots. Some Callistemons grow quite large, so make sure to get a local native one which will suit your garden. Different kinds of Callistemons grow along Australia’s east coast and south west.
Geraldton Wax – Chamelaucium uncinatum ‘Purple Pride’. Provides nectar for insects including butterflies. Grows in Western Australia.
Golden Buttons – Chrysocephalum apiculatum. Provides nectar for Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa kershawi) and native budworm moths.
Grey cottonheads – Conostylis candicans. Attracts nectar-eating birds. Grows in the south west of Western Australia primarily on sand plains.
Correas, also known as Native Fuchsia – Correa spp. These plants with bell-shaped flowers attract honeyeaters and nectar feeding birds. Some parrots eat the flowers, and some Correas provide a haven for lizards. Many varieties grow in South Australia, while other Correas grow almost all over Australia.
Seaspray – Darwinia citriodora. Honeyeaters, native bees and butterflies all feed on the nectar. Small honeyeaters such as Eastern Spinebills and New Holland Honeyeaters are attracted to the bright flowers. Native bees and insects also gather pollen and are a source of food for wrens and flycatchers.
Gymea Lily – Doryanthes excelsa. Abundant supply of nectar attracts many birds. Small insects are attracted to flowers and they are food for insectivorous. Grows in coastal regions of New South Wales, especially sandstone areas around Sydney in light forests and open areas.
Eremophila – Eremophila spp. These shrubs provide nectar for honeyeaters. Blue-tongue Lizards also sometimes eat the fallen flowers. These plants grow in many areas of Australia.
Little Evodia – Evodiella muelleri. Attracts nectar feeding butterflies. Food plant for the Ulysses Butterfly. Grows in north-eastern Queensland.
Native Fuchsia – Graptophyllum excelsum. Large butterflies (e.g. Orchard Swallowtails) feed on the nectar in the flowers. Honeyeaters also feed on the nectar in the flowers. Grows in Eastern Queensland from Rockhampton to Mareeba.
Grevilleas – Grevillea spp. Provides nectar for birds such as honeyeaters like Wattlebirds, Eastern Spinebills, and Noisy Friarbirds, and insects. Parrots and rosellas feed on the seeds. Attracts insects which small birds like Scrub wrens will happily feed on.
Red Pokers – Hakea bucculenta. Attracts honeyeaters and nectar feeding birds. Grows in Western Australia.
Kunzeas – Kunzea spp. Attracts nectar-feeding birds and insects. Grows in many areas of Australia.
Leptospermum ‘Horizontalis’ – Leptospermum ‘Horizontalis’. Attracts nectar-feeding beetles.
Silky Tea-tree – Leptospermum lanigerum. Attracts nectar feeding and seed eating birds and nectar-feeding beetles. Grows in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia.
Thyme Honey Myrtle – Melaleuca thymifolia. Attracts nectar feeding butterflies. Grows in New South Wales.
Creeping Boobialla also known as Dwarf Native Myrtle – Myoporum parvifolium. Provides nectar for butterflies. It is also a larval food plant for the Rayed Blue Butterfly. The fruits of this plant are also eaten by birds.
Sticky Boobyalla – Myoporum viscosum. Attracts nectar eating birds. Grows in South Australia and Victoria.
Psychotria loniceroides – Psychotria loniceroides. A wide variety of butterflies are attracted to the flowers as a nectar source. Is a larval food plant of the Hawkmoth (Hippotion velax). Birds such as Mistletoe Birds, Silver-eyes and small honeyeaters feed on the fruit. Grows in Queensland and New South Wales.
Waratah – Telopea spp. Provides a source of nectar for honeyeaters. Grows in New South Wales.
Cockies Tongue – Templetonia retusa. Larval host plant of Long-tailed Pea-blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus). Attracts honeyeaters and nectar eating birds. Grows in south western Western Australia.
Grass Tree – Xanthorrhoea australis. Honey eaters and numerous colourful beetles and insects are attracted to the nectar rich flowers. Insectivorous birds are attracted to the insects. Lorikeets feed on the soft seeds and rosellas on the seed capsules. Antechinus feed on attracted insects. Grows in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.