House & Garden

Australian Garden Climate Zones: An Essential Guide

If you’re new to gardening, there’s a term that’s likely to send a shiver of confusion down your spine: climate zones. A huge number of newbie gardeners struggle to fathom what this actually means for their quest for a beautiful garden, but when you dive down into the facts, it’s actually relatively simple.

What Are Climate Zones?

In a country the size of Australia, there are varied climates and soil types. For successful gardening, you need to know which climate zone you live in.

What Do Climate Zones Influence?

Pretty much everything to do with gardening in Australia! Climate zones will dictate your choices regarding:

  • The types of plants that you can use in your garden
  • The best times for preparing your garden for planting, the right time to use the likes of Seasol to establish root growth, and (if you’re growing fruit and vegetables) when you might expect to be able to harvest.
  • The challenges you may face when it comes to gardening, such as weather conditions and water supply.

Ultimately, if you want to nurture a successful garden in Australia, you need to know which climate zone your home falls into.

Are The Climate Zones All That Different?

There will always be uniting truths about gardening; you have to use the right products, prepare your beds in the right way, provide adequate water supplies. However, outside of these eternal basics, yes: climate zones are very different. While it may be possible to grow plants that are not suitable for your zone, making the choice to do this greatly increases your chances of experiencing plant failure.

If you want to be sure of the garden of your dreams, you’re going to want to know about your climate zone– and how you can make the most of it.

With these basics established, let’s dive right on into the details of each zone. As a starter, here’s a map of all the zones– we’ll explain in more detail shortly.
Now let’s break these down into a little more detail.

The Equatorial / Tropical Zone

As you can see from the map, the equatorial zone comprises of the northernmost parts of the country. The subtropical zones are more widespread, encompassing parts of the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and even areas of Western Australia to, unsurprisingly, the west.

These two zones have many similar elements when it comes to gardening, so as a general rule, if you fit into one then you can also use advice designed for the other.

The high temperatures in these two zones means you will want to lean towards plants that require a lot of sunlight, and you don’t need to worry about frost-hardiness.

Herbs

Most herbs will flourish in these zones, though you will need to provide an adequate water supply. You should experience particular success with –

  • Lemongrass
  • Coriander
  • Basil

Vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Sweet potato

Flowers and Trees

  • Gliricidia
  • Agati
  • Amaranth (also edible!)

Watch Out For…

If you’re gardening in these regions, your biggest concern will be pests during the monsoon season. Make sure you’re aware of how to spot the signs of an infestation and what to do about it should one develop.

Subtropical Zone

Gardening in the subtropical zones is fairly simple; it’s often acknowledged that this is the zone that will allow for the fastest growth and the most abundant yields. If you’re new to gardening and you’re in the subtropical zone, then you’re in luck.

Herbs

  • Most herbs will grow well in this zone, though you will have particular success with…
  • Tarragon
  • Mint

Vegetables

  • Sweet potato
  • Cassava
  • Beans can usually be grown year-round in this zone

Flowers and Trees

  • Geraniums
  • Sunflowers
  • Marigolds

Watch Out For…

While growing in the subtropical zone can be relatively simple, you’ll need to pay particular attention to temperate vegetables that prefer cooler regions. Just make a note to grow these over winter, rather than in the traditional planting season.

Desert and Grassland Zones

These arid zones experience much the same issues and benefits, so you can usually group together advice for both areas. The biggest issue that you will face in these areas is water supply and lack of rainfall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gardening — it will just have to be over winter.

It is inadvisable to try planting during the spring and summer months, due to the conditions in this region. There’s a good guide to what you can grow in these regions here, but be warned: your options are somewhat limited.

Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Lemongrass

Vegetables

  • You will want to grow vegetables under a shade cloth to help ensure they mature correctly.
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers

Trees and Flowers

  • Cactus
  • Acacia
  • Eucalyptus

Watch Out For…

Your issue in these zones is water, but you also need to use protection against the strength of the sun over the summer months. Hands-free gardening is difficult in these zones, so you’ll need to commit to make it worth your while!

Temperate Zones

As the name may suggest, the temperate zones are conducive to good planting throughout the year. Rainfall is reliable, temperatures are relatively steady, and with good preparation you should be able to have a wonderful garden.

Herbs

  • Rosemary
  • Coriander
  • Thyme

Vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots

Flowers and Trees

  • Some fruit trees need a chill factor to flourish, which the temperate zone provides. There’s a fantastic guide to chill factor fruit and nut trees here.
  • Marigold
  • Tulips

In Conclusion

Ultimately, gardening is all about ensuring that you make the most with what you have. Yes, climate zones can present problems, especially if you live in the desert or grassland areas. However, there is always something you can grow– nature is incredible in its ability to adapt. While you might not be able to grow exactly what you want due to your climate zone, you will learn to love what you can grow, and delight in your successes with more difficult plants, herbs, and flowers.

So if you’re determined this summer will be one complete with a stunning and productive garden, taking note of the above should help you to reach this goal.

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