Category: Plant profiles

Nasturtiums – Friend of Foe?

Right now, right across the climates, Australia is starting to experience milder weather. Whether it be a relent from the striking suns of summer in cooler and temperate zones or whether it be a drier period in the tropics, mild weather brings its own challenges in the garden. One of the big challenges is the proliferation of weeds but this is not the only problem. This is also the time that so called ‘nuisance plants’, which are not technically weeds but not always appreciated, really can start to take hold of your garden.

One such plant is known as a Nasturtium, from the Tropaeolum genus (and NOT the genus ‘Nasturtium…which is VERY confusing). Right now in gardens throughout Australia you may be facing a decision, even if you are not aware of it! What decision is that? Well…it is whether or not to let any Nasturtium’s that might pop up in your garden take hold.

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Plant of the Month – Leptospermum lanigerum

Earlier this month I featured the Leptospermum spectabile, this week I’ll be featuring the Leptospermum lanigerum.

Leptospermum lanigerum
Photo: Ivan Holliday, Westflora on Flikr

Genus: Leptospermum
Species: lanigerum
Common Name: Woolly or Silky Tea Tree
Flower Colour: White
Foliage Colour: Green
Growth Habit: Shrub to 3m
Flowering: Summer

This variety of Leptospermum is endemic to the southern parts of the east coast of Australia, encompassing Victoria and Tasmania. As this would suggest, it prefers a cool to cold climate, though success in termperate area’s is possible. This variety is not recommended for sub tropical or tropical area’s, though they have been grown along the coast around Brisbane.

When mature the foliage can create a silvery appearance, even though the leaves are green. This, along with the white flowers, makes it a good plant to use around other more colourful varieties because it will help to cause the more colourful feature plants to stand out.

Plant in a sunny position in well draining soil, though this variety will tolerate part shade. This plant will tolerate very wet soils, as long as the do drain. Given the area it is endemic to, this variety actually prefers access to lots of water. There are also varieties available which will grow up to as tall as 18m. Leptospermum lanigerum is a fairly common cultivar available in many native nurseries in and around Victoria and Tasmania.

Plant of the Month – Hakea myrtoides

Last week I featured the Hakea bucculenta, this week I’ll be looking at the Hakea myrtoides.

Genus: Hakea
Species: myrtoides
Common Name: Myrtle Hakea
Flower Colour: Shade of red/pink
Foliage Colour: Green
Growth Habit: Shrub to 0.5m
Flowering: Winter to Spring

This is a great example of a smaller variety of Hakea that you could add to your garden. This variety stays nice and low, growing to around about half a metre in height to a metre at most, and has prolific flowers which makes it a fantastic shrub to plant in and around some of your bigger growing shrubs or feature plants.

This variety can be difficult to grow and requires a dry climate, so is not a good choice for sub tropical or tropical regions. It is endemic to Perth but can even struggle to grow there if Perth experiences a more humid than normal summer, so anywhere that regularly experiences humidity is probably not a good location.

It also requires very well draining soil for it to thrive, but if you can get the right conditions, this variety is a very good choice. I really like the shape of the flowers and the colour contrast between these particular greens and red/pinks. Possibly a variety for the more brave to try and grow, but why not learn by trying!

Plant of the Month – Hakea bucculenta

Last week I featured the Hakea laurina, this week I’ll be looking at the Hakea bucculenta

Photo: Ivan Holliday, Westflora on Flickr

Genus: Hakea
Species: bucculenta
Common Name: Red Pokers
Flower Colour: Red/Orange
Foliage Colour: Green
Growth Habit: Shrub to 4m
Flowering: Winter to Spring

The Hakea bucculenta is quite a showy plant, mostly due to its roughyl 15cm long orange/red flower spikes. Because of these flowers, this variety will readily attract birds, bees and other wildlife that likes lots of nectar.When the flowers are finished it forms woody seed pods, which you can easily cut off if you don’t like the look. These seeds would only be released in the case of fire or death of the plant.

Though endemic to the central west coast of WA, the Hakea bucculenta has been known to grow in most climates around Australia. It prefers dry sand plains, but can handle both mild frost and humid conditions, though these two climates can limit the growth and flowering ability of this variety.

Like so many varieties of Hakea, the best position for this variety is in a well draining soil (particularly this variety) and full sun. It will tolerate some shade, but this will diminish the showing of flowers come winter/spring.

Plant of the Month – Hakea laurina

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Last week I featured the Hakea Burrendong Beauty, this week I’ll be featuring the Hakea laurina.

Photo: Ivan Holliday, Westflora on Flickr

Genus: Hakea
Species: laurina
Common Name: Pin cushion Hakea
Flower Colour: Cherry Red
Foliage Colour: Green
Growth Habit: Shrub from 2-5m
Flowering: Autumn to Winter

The Hakea laurina looks some what similar to the ‘Burrendong Beauty’, the main difference being that the laurina has deeper, cherry red flowers compared to the pinkish tinge to the ‘Burrendong Beauty’. The laurina is also a little more specific in terms of it requirements to thrive.

The Hakea laurina is endemic to the southern coastal area’s of Western Australia and tends to prefer cooler climates, though there has been some success growing this variety in slightly warmer temperate climates. This Hakea is not suitable for regions that experience high humidity.

The best place to grow the H.laurina is in a well draining soil in full sun. It will grow in part shade but this tends to limit the bushiness and flowering ability of the plant, so if this is where you choose to plant it, expect fewer flowers than would otherwise be normal.

Though the H.laurina is tolerant of frost, this can cause the plant to limit its flowering also. However, even with all these things that can limit the flowering ability, the Hakea laurina is one of the more respected varieties of Hakea for native gardens and has even been shipped off to countries around the world, such is its popularity.

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better garden plant of the month compilation

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Plant of the Month – Hakea ‘Burrendong Beauty’

Last month I featured four varieties of the Australian Native Acacia plant. This month I’ll be taking a look at four varieties of native Hakea’s, which are related to banksias, grevilleas, waratahs and dryandras. The first species that I am going to look at is a little special because it appears to have come into existence by accident and is a hybrid variety of Hakea.

Photo: Ivan Holliday, Westflora on Flickr

Genus: Hakea
Species: Hybrid of H.myrtoides and H.petiolaris
Common Name: ‘Burrendong Beauty’
Flower Colour: Pink/red
Foliage Colour: Dark Green
Growth Habit: Shrub to 1.5m
Flowering: Winter

Burrendong Beauty is an extremely beautiful variety of Hakea. I myself have not grown it, but I have chosen to feature it first because I could not find a variety whose flowers look quite as spectacular. Very similar to Grevillea’s flowers, the Burrendong Beauty has lots of little red ball like flowers with pink stamens. They flower very prolifically, so from about mid winter you can expect to see your Hakea Burrendong Beauty absolutely covered with these beautiful flowers.

Burrendong Beauty has been known to grow best in Temperate climates, though it can tolerate cooler climates as long as there is only minor front conditions. Sub tropical and tropical regions tend to be too humid for this variety to thrive in.

The best way to see this variety thrive is to plant it in a good, sunny position and make sure the soil it is planted in will drain well. In saying ‘sunny position’, really hot strong periods of weather will knock this variety around, so try and find a spot that has the morning sun and afternoon shade, given that afternoon sun is generally hotter than spots that get the morning sun.

Plant of the Month – Acacia cognata

My last plant of the month entry featured the Acacia sclerophylla, this weeks Plant of the Month is the Acacia cognata.

Photo: Ivan Holliday on Flickr

Genus: Acacia
Species: cognata
Common Names: There are many sub-species, each with their own common name
Flower Colour: Varied
Foliage Colour: Varied
Growth Habit: Varied
Flowering: Varied

For the last Acacia variety I have chosen to do something a little different and that is pick a variety that is actually very varied. The Acacia cognata, though a plant in itself, has so many different sub-species it is actually very difficult to say ‘This is the MAIN Acacia Cognata’. The most common forms in cultivation are the low growing forms, but there are such a vast array of varieties any ‘specific’ information is hard to give.

There are some things that are common to most if not all varieties of Acacia cognata. They all prefer to grow in full sun to part shade and they all prefer a well drained soil. There are generally varieties for all climates around Australia, including coastal, inland and desert soils.

The main use of Acacia cognata in its many forms is as a fencing or hedging plant. The lower growing varieties make a great border around paths and the slightly taller growing varieties can be trained to be quite a bushy hedge, 0.5m to 1m tall. There is even a variety of Cognata that grows into a full sized tree up to a massive 10m.

Like many Australian natives the Acacia cognata does not like to much phosphorous so when fertilising, make sure that you use either a known low phosphorous fertiliser or better yet, buy a fertiliser specifically designed for Australian native plants.

With such a wide variety of different cultivars (sub-species grown and chosen for their good garden properties) you are sure to find one you could add to your garden!