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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

Plant of the Month – Adenanthos sericeus

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For the month of May 2010 I will be taking a look at 4 different varieties of the Australian Native Plant called the Adenanthos.

The best of the lot, in my humble opinion, is actually native to the area I spent most of my childhood in, the Albany Woolly Bush, which I will be reviewing first.

Here is the first variety for May

Genus: Adenanthos
Species: sericeus
Common Name: Albany Woolly Bush or Silver Streak
Flower Colour: Red
Foliage Colour: Grey-Green
Growth Habit: Shrub 3m+
Flowering: Spring, Summer, Autumn

The Albany Woolly Bush is an absolutely fantastic Australian Native Plant.

It is extremely hardy, surviving on very little water once established, and has the most beautiful grey-green leaves.

It is also extremely soft leaved and will grow to a very large size if allowed.

Probably what the Albany Woolly Bush is best known for is it’s suitability to be used as an Australian Native Christmas Tree. Many people either grow themselves or buy an Albany Woolly Bush around Christmas time because it really suits this purpose well.

The grey-green leaves give it a colour that almost ‘hints’ at being snow covered (which Australians still seem to like the idea of, even though many of us have never seen snow) and because of the size the Woolly Bush grows too, you really can get a decent sized Christmas tree.

A fellow blogging friend of mine, Stuart, has a really good review of this plant with some good reader questions about propagation. It can be found here.

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better garden plant of the month compilation

Thanks to Lullitz Nursery for some of this information.

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27 comments… add one

  • SELINA

    Is this plant frost hardy?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    It is moderately frost tolerant. Should handle low sub-zero temps (like -3 to -5 max)

  • Lionel

    I had much success with this tree here in Perth, you could say too much success. 2 just fall over and were replaced. I currently have 3 growing, one in the middle of my back yard 4mt x 3mts about 4 high another next to a fence about 4 mts high but slender due to its position amongst trees, the other near a fence took for ever to get going its now about 2 mts high. I’ve had 5 pairs of New holland honey Eaters build nests with 4 of them raising youngs successfully over the past 2 years. One pair is currently with 2 young. My only warning is DO NOT plant near your house, It will become too big, needs an open full sun yard for best results. I have seen a house here in Perth that has grown a few in a line to create a very good hedge.
    Lionel Perth WA

  • Rhonda

    Hi I have a woolly bush in our garden that we planted about 5 years ago, it has grown quite large and has been extremely healthy until recently. It’s foliage has now become very dry and is browning off. We live in Adelaide by the coast. Can you perhaps give me some advice on how to rectify this. I have another woolly bush growing nearby perhaps 3 years old and is doing fine.

    Rhonda West Beach SA.

  • Michael

    I have this bush in my yard and I like it. i”d like to have it around the yard. How can I ‘breed’ it? will just cut-off and put in a bucket of water do? Or perhaps just stick a cutout into the soil?
    M

  • les

    I planted 4 silver Streak( adenanthos sericues) 2 years ago and lost 3 of them replaced them last year and this year i have lost all four. every thing else is thriving. they are partly shaded but get afternoon sun
    4pm onwards
    what are ideal conditions for them

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Depends where you live. I’ve had a few people lately struggling with this native, which is odd because it is so very prevalent. I’ve grown many myself.

    The conditons you suggested should be fine. It can be known to struggle a little in area’s which experience extreme heat, but then I’ve had them grow well in Perth and that gets quite a hot summer.

    Perhaps that spot just doesn’t like them, may need to try something else?

  • Andrew

    I grow this plant on my farm in Queensland. I originally planted 250young plants in a variety of soils.
    All grew well in soils from sandy loam to heavy clay until we had our summer wet season. All those in clay soil died within 1week of getting heavy rain. Some of these trees were 1.5metres tall and very healthy.
    All the plants in well drained sandy soil are growing very well..

    My conclusion is that as a member of the protaecea family they are subject to root rot (phytopthera) which proliferates in wet conditions and where drainage is poor. The remaining trees have now seen two major wet seasons and are growing well.

  • Perri

    Can you please tell me how many cotyledons an Albany Wooly Bush has?

  • Beth Smith

    Can someone tell me if the Albany Woolly Bush would grow near the far north coast of NSW or Southport, Qld. My daughter and her friend like ours which is in Dromana, Vic. and growing very well so far. Although we’re on the Mornington Peninsula, our property is about halfway between the beach and the Arthurs Seat State park ridge and not too sandy or clay.

  • Simon

    Thanks for all the great tips, I need to transplant a 2 metre A. Sericeus, any ideas on how to do this. What is the best way to attempt the move so to not disturb the roots? I’m only moving it about 3 metres.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    May I ask the reasons for transplanting such a mature sized tree?

    It is possible, but there is certainly the risk of this not working. The root system should be very set and as such, I’d suggest would have to be disrupted to get the tree out in the first place.

    If you do absolutely have to move it, this is the right season to do it in, so that is a positive. You’ll want to make sure you fertilise it with a good native fertiliser and also give it plenty of water, if you don’t get rain of course. You will disturb the roots, it just won’t be possible not to. Just try to dig a enough around it to keep as much of the roots as possible. However even that will be a challenge if it has developed a solid root structure.

    A good article (American, but still generally fits) can be found at http://landscaping.about.com/cs/shrubsbushes/ht/transplanting.htm

  • lindy

    we have a row of large pine trees along our fence line with the neighbours which do not provide a very good low screen. We would like to plant bushes that will provide a low screen 2-3m high. Would woolly bushes grow near large pine trees? (we would plant them about 3 metres from the base of the pine trees and they would be on the northerly side and get quite a bit of sun)

  • Bianca

    Hi, I am wanting to plant a woolly bush hedge in Ballarat. just wondering about how far apart to space the plants and if anyone knows if our constantly wet, cold winter would be suitable or would encourage root rot.
    Thanks

  • aussiegreenthumb

    I would expect, if the other conditions are suitable, that you could have some success with that.

  • louise

    I bought one in a pot about six weeks ago. I watered it very sparingly, but now it isn’t looking very well at all. I am considering planting it out. I have poor soil. What sort of soil do I need to buy? I was thinking of mixing river sand with native plant mix, but what would the ratio be? I would appreciate your advice. Thank you.

  • Marie van Reyk

    My Adenanthos sericeus which has been growing very well for about 4 or 5 years suddenly shows signs of drying and the bush has a brown tinge to the leaves. Does this plant a life span of 5 years or is this happening because the bush was pruned in autumn this year? We live in Melbourne and the plant did very well all this time. I would really like an answer.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Adenanthos sericeus certainly live longer than 5 years so it isn’t a lifespan issue. It also isn’t likely an issue with being pruned in Autumn because Autumn is a good time to prune and plant trees. Drying and a ‘brown tinge’ is often a sign of lack of water supply. Do you use reticulation or hand watering or does it just survive of the rain (which they often can). How wet was the Melbourne winter? Was it dryer than usual, I haven’t really heard?

    I’d try and make sure it gets a little more water for a few weeks and see if it perks up. If at any stage it looks to take a dramatic turn for the worst I’d consult a native nursery in your area because they’ll have a better grasp on what could be causing the problem in your particular location.

    Hope that helps!

  • Margie

    Hi, I have a Adenanthos sericeus wooly bush which is about 2 metres tall. The bush was leaning heavily to one side so I put bicycle tubes around the trunk and tied them to 2 stakes to keep the bush upright. After a time, I removed the supports and now the tree is listing heavily again and I can see the roots exposed. Is this a shallow rooted bush? Do I need to keep it supported permanently? It is really healthy and about 5 years old.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    If after removing the supports it has started listing again, you will likely need to leave it permanently supported. It very possibly could be shallow rooted and that is tough to fix with an established tree.

    Best course of action is to stake it again and bury any roots that are showing. Also perhaps apply a wetting agent around the tree to hopefully encourage any future watering to seep in deep so you may perhaps be able to encourage the roots to grow deeper and support it more. Maybe in a year try removing the supports and see how it goes. If it lists then, you’ll just have to leave it supported.

    Hope that helps!

  • Cheryl

    I wonder if anyone has any advice. I have a small woolly bush which we bought earlier this year. We have not re-potted it as yet and it lives on our balcony. It had been doing absolutely fine until we went away for 2.5 weeks. It had been extremely windy the few days leading up to us going away so I moved it inside as it kept blowing over(I know it is not an indoor plant). Subsequently I forgot to put it back outside before we went away. When we got back it was looking very sad and was quite dry. I put him outside immediately and have been maintaining its water since then. We have been back 2 weeks and no improvements have been seen. I fear it may be too late to save it!

    Does anyone have any advice or ‘miracle cures’?

  • ntk Adelaide hills S.A

    i have a problem with a Silver streak i planted about 3 years back.It only had minimal red flowers for the first year and then virtually nothing now.The bush is about 1.2 metres high and last year i had to prop it up as was leaning over.I had to cut off one section which had virtually died.Now only bits and pieces of a couple of lower sections are growing (little) and there are still sections which are quite brown.I am almost ready to pull it out as it gets enough water and i planted 2 Magnolias either side of it at same time ;about one and a half metres away from the Silver Streak.Both these magnolias are over 2 metres tall now.I thought of replacing the Silver Streak with a few Lucodendrums? to give the area some colour.Would appreciate your thoughts.Only negative i can think of is it is next to the stump of some tall conifers i cut down;but then again so are the 2 Magnolias which have grown well
    Norm Littlehampton

  • Leigh Geil

    I live Sunshine Coast Qld and have 3 Wolly Buss plants all 1.5meters. Can I prune these back hard to create fluffier round bushes. They are at present fluffy on top but “sticky ” and bare below.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Hey Leigh,

    Not being super aware of the QLD climate, is it pretty much your dry season at the moment? How cool does it get overnight?

    My assumption would be that you don’t really experience frosts too much (but I could be wrong of course) in which case, it is possible. The best time to prune hard is straight after they flower but I have read of people giving them a hard prune at many times and they have been fine.

    It should be pointed out, any time a really hard prune is done, there are no guarantees they’ll pull through. They really should, but you have to be aware of the risk.

    If you are concerned, what you could try is trim a section of one back and give it a week or 2. See if any buds start showing on the trimmed section. That would be a good sign that they’ll be fine.

    Hope this helps!

  • Les Lyons

    I planted a 50cm high wooly Bush in autumn this year and whilst it appears happy. However, it now has dozens of ladybird size, shiny, black flying insects on it. Any idea of what they are and what should we do to get rid of them.

    Also, what are the new natural (garlic and chilli based) pesticides of any value or concern?

    Les

  • Linda

    How far apart would you recommend spacing the woolly bushes for a nice thick hedge?

  • Hi I have a adenanthos serices wooly bush it is about 10 years old and it is splitting up on two of the trunks and is going a grey coulour

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