I've done a lot of thinking over the passed few years about why a lot of my native Australian plants keep dieing on me. Overwatering them seemed to be the biggest culprit and probably was the reason they kept dieing. However, I also am still concerned as to why my native plants are simply not growing like they should be and patience has nothing to do with it.
I have a self-seeded fruit? tree of some sort growing in the garden. It is over 7 feet tall now (and growing rapidly) and is only about 2 years old. Why is it growing so fast yet my other plants struggle to make any kind of decent growth each year?
My conclusion is that it has something to do with the fruit? tree starting it's life out in a pile of freshly deposited bird droppings. It had no other source of water. It had direct heat from the sun as the bird droppings were on top of the ground, of course. Then a bit of rain came along and up it sprung as a tree.
Nature grows seeds of plants after the seeds/fruit has been eaten by birds or is scattered by the wind. This occurs in Summer up here in Tenterfield, NSW, but it is timed by the onset of heat during mid to late Spring. So when the heat prior to Summer starts is probably the best time to germinate seeds in this part of Australia, unless you are a gum tree seed.
To cut a long story short, if one places fresh seed in a pile of fresh bird droppings after a plant species has gone to seed or fruited, the seed should always germinate if the fruit/seed is viable. Don't water the seeds EVER and do this prior to rainfall. You have to really time it though. It entirely depends upon the time of year the plant species bears seed/fruit. In theory, it should also work with very fresh cow manure. Bird droppings tend to cake hard in a very short time in the hot sun which encases the seed in a bundle of nutrients that slowly is released when it gets rained on. You need to mimic that for the seed to successfully germinate and grow like crazy thereafter.
(Footnote: For this to be even more successful you need an exposed patch of dirt or soil that doesn't exactly have organic matter laying on the surface. The soil has to be directly exposed to direct sunlight especially during late spring to mid summer. These are the areas in my garden where bird deposited seeds tend to germinate and do so successfully and quickly. The surface layer of the soil must be right. It does not seem to matter about the type of soil underneath the ground though. Seeds will not grow in your lawn no matter what you do or try.)
On the other hand, successfully growing shop bought seedlings of native and exotic plants I've now mastered. I now have a 100% success rate of them not dieing on me. I'm a bit brutal with them. I dig a hole (usually in late summer to mid autumn) remove them from the pot and put them in the ground, cover the soil back over, water them and just leave them. I don't put in organic matter at the bottom nor do I loosen up the soil around the roots for the roots to grow into the surrounding soil. I leave the surrounding soil all compacted. I NEVER WATER THEM AGAIN. Every single seedling I've treated like this has grown like mad and adapts to even black frosts.
I do treat a few plant seedlings differently however. Some will get placed in more shaded areas than others. For example, I planted a parsley directly underneath a grevillea and it is now in seed. I done this for the main reason that it was originally attacked by caterpillars but it reshooted. It has not been attacked by caterpillars since. I treat it no differently (water wise) than the native plants.
As brutal as it sounds I do not water my garden anymore. It entirely depends upon rainfall. Plants flower when the rainfall is good, when there is a week or two of rainfall. Then the flowering stops, seeds are produced if their flowering season is over and plant growth resumes. Just as nature intended it. NOR DO I PULL UP ANYTHING DEAD. I learnt that mistake last year as I probably killed some of my plants by damaging their main roots. Instead, should a plant actually die, I will simply cut it back to ground level or thereabouts and let the roots slowly rot down to become nutrients for the living plants nearby. If it regrows, great. If it doesn't, great. Its all good.
I am happy because my garden and it's occupants have adapted successfully to their environment and the climate. No plant deaths occur now, and even more seedlings of unknown plant species deposited by birds are beginning to show up in the garden. I'm excited about that because I know they will survive and flourish. I'm also excited because there is a cycle of life about my garden of which would not be happening without the birds visiting my garden in the first place.
There may be the same species of birds, and even the same individuals visiting my garden year after year. The point to all of this is growing plants that the birds eat from and you can't do that without having seed/fruit eating birds visiting your garden. As most of us simply don't know what birds eat from the best way to find out is to let those bird deposited seeds to germinate. How do you tell the difference? If you try pulling what doesn't look like a weed out of the garden and you really have to pull hard to rip it out (and it barely has 6 leaves on it) it's seed was deposited by a bird. It is a strong plant so leave it in the ground unless you know for a fact it will cause damage to nearby structures on your property. I tend to rip up any Silk Tree seedlings that emerge in the garden because their roots damage concrete and drainage systems.
Identifying bird deposited seeds that grow into seedlings is challenging by itself. My unidentified bush in the garden that was deposited in a neighbour's garden (I dug it up and took it home when it was just tiny) has still not flowered. It is a bush, grows like a bush and is the nicest looking plant in the garden. I think it now has a new mate growing near the parsley and grevilleas. The culprit, I believe, who placed the seed there was an Eastern Rosella. Whatever the plant is it is a slow grower growing less than 20cms per year.
Home gardens that attract birds, in my honest opinion, should be full of the plants the local birds eat. If you create a basic garden with grevilleas it does attract fruit/seed eaters eventually. You need to attract birds to your garden initially by growing plants that will suffice for the time being. Adding plants of different species gives birds a variety of food. Variety is very important. Later on you can add plants that produce berries. But if you allow your garden to be filled in by bird deposited seeds it becomes even more exciting as you simply don't know where a new plant will spring up and down the track that same bird species will return to harvest food from that plant/s.
So, if you would like some free advice, remove some of your organic matter from your garden and create patches of bare soil and watch what seedlings emerge next Spring/Summer. Its the perfect way to get free plants and the perfect way to find out what the fruit/seed eaters are eating in the area!!!!!