Alternative plants

Alternative plants are ornamental trees and shrubs that are grown in place of fruit trees prone to fruit fly attack. These can range from small shrubs to larger ornamental trees that are suitable for growing in the home garden.



  • Actions to control fruit fly are generally not required, leaving you more time to do other things.
  • Potential sources (unmanaged fruit trees) of fruit fly infestations are removed, benefiting neighbouring gardeners and nearby fruit production areas.


What makes it right for you?

Growing alternative plants will be right for you if you:

  • own your own home (if you are renting you could ask your landlord to have fruit trees removed).
  • live in an area prone to fruit fly attack.
  • are not able or willing to take actions to control fruit fly in your garden.
  • want to reduce the amount of host plants that you need to manage for fruit fly.
  • are able to or can find someone else to help you establish and maintain your new plantings.


Factors affecting success

  • Appropriate selection of plants that are not susceptible to fruit fly attack.
  • Control of regrowth of removed host plants and fruit trees that may occur.
  • Selection of plants or trees that are suited to your location.
  • Proper care and maintenance of new plants in your garden.



  • Plant characteristics that are important to you such as size, growth habit, fruits.
  • Plant uses such as shading, visual screening and noise shielding.
  • Location suitability such as soil type, drainage, climate.
  • Water restrictions in your area, if any.
  • Nearby infrastructure, including clearance from powerlines and underground pipes and cables.


What to do

When selecting alternative plants for your home garden, make sure that you select the right one for the right place. Your local garden centre should be able to help you find the right plant for you. They should also be able to advise you on appropriate care to help with establishment and maintenance.

Below are some examples of exotic and native ornamental plants that may be suitable for growing in the home garden. Note that while some exotic ornamentals such as Prunus and Pyrus have been suggested, some do have small fruits that could be affected by fruit fly in high risk areas, although there is limited evidence that these plants are a problem.

Examples of exotic plants (not native to Australia):

  • Pyrus ussurensis (Machurian pear)
  • Acer (Maple)
  • Fraxinus spp. (Ash)
  • Ornamental Prunus spp.
  • Prunus mume (Japanese apricot)
  • Magnolia spp.
  • Camelia (various cultivars).

Examples of native plants:

  • Acacia pendula
  • Agonis flexuosa
  • Callistemon spp. (various cultivars)
  • Eremophila maculate
  • Eremophila longifolia
  • Eucalyptus erythrocorys
  • Grevillea hookeriana (Red hooks)
  • Grevillea (‘Misty Pink’ and ‘Majestic’ cultivars)
  • Grevilla ‘Honeygem’
  • Harpullia pendula (Tulipwood)
  • Hymenosporum flavum (native frangipani)
  • Leptospermum rotundifolium
  • Melaleuca stypheliodes
  • Melaleuca incana spp. incanaMelaleuca nesophila
  • Melaleuca wilsoni.


When to do it

The time to plant ornamental trees will be dependent on the type of tree. Deciduous trees can be planted either when dormant during winter; or in the warmer seasons (spring and autumn) when in leaf. Annual plants that maintain leaves are best planted during the warmer seasons, particularly spring and autumn.

Fruit trees can be removed any time of the year. However, removing the tree when it is not fruiting saves you the trouble of removing and destroying the fruit (see host plant removal and sanitation).


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