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ANSWERING THE PUBLIC

What the Australian public wants to know about native plants and microclimate

I wrote this article recently for the Australian Native Plant Society Garden Design Study Group. While it’s perhaps not a topic for the average gardener, I hope you still find it interesting!

Australian native plants and microclimate

On a daily basis, Australians collectively search for something on Google more than 300,000 times. In 2022 the “most searched” things  included Wordle, Shane Warne, Ukraine, Monkeypox, Drunken Chicken and Dahl recipes. 

We go to Google to answer every conceivable question and our searching habits provide a wealth of information regarding the daily challenges we face, what ails us and the problems of everyday life, as well as our hopes, dreams and wildest ideas.

Australians also go to Google in droves to answer their garden design questions. 

Australian gardeners have many questions about native plants and colour. Sitting at home, dreaming about the gardens they are creating, many go to Google to ask – what Australian shrubs have purple flowers, show me some yellow native Australian flowers, and many colourful variations on this theme. 

For this month’s garden design topic I set out to discover what the Australian public wants to know about native plants and microclimate. I hope you find this as interesting as I did!

Australians make 700,000+ native plant related searches on Google every month.

 

Their questions about native plants include ‘How to’, ‘When to’, ‘Where to’ variations, as well as ‘Which plants’ questions and, ‘Are they’, ‘Can they’ and ‘Will they’.

For this research I segmented over 440 microclimate related Google search phrases totalling 19,860 searches per month in Australia on average. 

Here’s a look at some of the top questions they have about native plants and microclimate. 

77% of all native plant + microclimate related searches were about light.

Of the light related searches, 8,590 searches per month were about native plants for FULL SUN locations and 6,440 searches were about native plants for SHADE.

The most Googled individual microclimate questions were also LIGHT related, with 720 people searching every month for “Australian native shade loving plants” as well as for full sun plants and low maintenance full sun plants. 590 people per month searched for “Australian plants for shade”.

The 2nd most searched for microclimate category was TEMPERATURE with the overwhelming majority of searches related to COLD temperatures (1,200 per month).

  • Frost hardy native plants
  • Drought and frost tolerant native plants
  • Frost hardy climbing plants and ground covers

The next popular category of searches were related to MOISTURE.

84% of moisture related questions were about WET microclimates.

Popular questions were about small native plants that like wet feet, as well as trees and hedges for wet areas.

SOIL type only featured in 3% of searches, dominated by questions about plants for clay soil. Searches including “native plants clay soil”, plants for shallow soil, alkaline soil and very few searches related to growing native plants in sandy soil.

The final categories were ASPECT related searches, that amounted to 510 searches a month for questions related to plants for north, south, east and west aspects. With WIND related searches amounting to just 250 native microclimate searches in Australia each month.

I hope you found these statistics as interesting as I did. And in case you were wondering, Wattle is the most googled native plant in Australia, followed closely by our iconic Banksia. 

Happy gardening!

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