Gardening with Grevilleas

Really there is no other genus of Australian native plant quite so synonymous with a ‘bird-friendly garden’ as the Grevillea. Not only are there more than 350 species endemic to Australia, but there are many many more that are cultivated and hybridized by the nursery industry with ‘Robyn Gordon’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Honey Gem’ some of the most well known varietals. 

But are Grevilleas really a good addition to a bird-friendly garden? Lets look at the pros and cons: 


  • Relatively easy and fast to grow – they respond well to pruning and can be shaped (and pruning is a must to avoid them looking leggy) 

  • Available in prostrate ground covers through to tall trees, they come in every shape and size and just about every colour 

  • Have a shallow root system so they are not going to be invasive to pipes  

  • Like most soil types, including sandy soil and have low water requirements once established. Just avoid letting the soil get too boggy 



  • Some can cause irritation to people with sensitive skin – so think carefully about where you plant them 

  • The hybrids are usually prolific flowering, hold their flowers on the outside of the shrub and produce copious amounts of nectar. These are promoted as being excellent for attracting birds, particularly, honeyeaters to the garden. This is true, but they do not provide shelter for smaller birds, but rather encourage the larger, more aggressive species such as Noisy Miners, Rainbow Lorikeets and Wattlebirds. The overabundance of these birds is thought to make it tougher for smaller birds to visit our gardens.  


The answer though isn’t to avoid Grevilleas altogether – they have an impressive pro list! If you wish to attract a range of species including some of the smaller honeyeaters then it is better to plant species that produce less nectar and which also provide cover. These have more delicate looking flowers and are gorgeous, they are just not the show-stoppers we are used to. This does not mean avoiding the showy species completely; just use fewer of them and mix them with other dense plantings which provide shelter. 

Grevilleas that are suitable include the native, non-hybridised varieties particularly those that have smaller flowers inside the plant where they afford protection. There is a huge diversity of Grevilleas out there to explore so talk to your local community nursery about what is native to your area and go for something outside the normal selection.  

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