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Acacia Cognata | Growing + Care Guide Australia

Acacia cognata or acacia limelight is one of the best-selling wattle cultivars, and it’s easy to see why. With incredible, soft-swaying vegetation, the acacia limelight adds a wonderful focal point in gardens, entryways and around fences.

Used often in tropical and traditional Asian gardens, this Aussie native grows well in pots and garden beds, accustoming quickly to poorer soil conditions, considering growing your own Acacia cognata at home?

Here is everything you need to know to cultivate, grow and care for acacia cognata. 


What Are Wattle Trees? 

Wattles are incredibly popular, semi-deciduous trees that can be found almost anywhere in Australia. With their incredible ability to withstand harsh environments, Wattles or Acacia’s are the largest genus of flora across Australia. 

These hardy inhabitants can thrive despite harsh winds, droughts, bushfires, and floods. Plus, with dense, evergreen foliage, they’re fantastic feature plants too. 

Acacia Cognata

Photo: Ivan Holliday on Flickr

Many say that their resilience is a direct representation of the spirit of the Australian people. These hardy inhabitants can thrive despite harsh winds, droughts, bushfires, and floods. 

Plus, with dense, evergreen foliage, they’re fantastic feature plants too. Many say that their resilience is a direct representation of the spirit of the Australian people. 

The acacia cognata is a common, dwarf variety of wattle, making it an ideal option for smaller gardens or compact spaces. Also known as the Bower or River Wattle, this lime green shrub is a great choice for garden beds, borders, greenhouses and walls. 

The most popular acacia limelight varieties include: 

  • The Mini-Cog. A very small cultivar, great for indoors. 
  • The Bower Beauty. A colourful cultivar offering an attractive bronze and orange growth at the tips. 
  • Lime Magik. A weeping, willow-style cultivar growing only about 1 metre in height. 
  • River Cascade. Stunning as a landscaping feature and suitable for hedge growing. 
  • Green Mist. Beautiful and bright, ideal as a focal point in gardens.

Growing Acacia Cognata

As with most acacia trees, the acacia limelight enjoys a fair amount of sunlight throughout the day, so it’s important to pick the right spot when beginning the growing journey. Full sun or partly shaded will be suitable. 

In the wild, most acacia plants grow freely, even in poor soil conditions. However, when growing at home, you will want to ensure you’re growing acacia cognata in a plentiful supply of sandy, loamy, well-draining soil. Usually, a low-phosphate potting mix is recommended. 

While they are very hardy plants, you will want to ensure your acacia limelight is protected from the elements when still establishing themselves. 

How do you Propagate Acacia Limelight? 

Propagation through cuttings is the easiest and most effective. These cuttings should be taken in the spring or in early autumn, as colder conditions may affect your acacia limelight’s ability to take root. 

In general, cuttings taken during warmer conditions have an 80% success rate. More so, you can take multiple cuttings at once to propagate plenty of smaller plants. 


  • Remove a healthy branch close to the tip, approximately 10 cm in length. 
  • Strip the lower half of the foliage and cut it down to about 5 cm in length. 
  • Stick the cut edge into a seeding tray with a rich potting mix to root.

For rooting, you will want to use denser potting soil. A mixture of 90% perlite and 10% peat moss is recommended. 

Rooting will take as long as 2 to 3 months. Ensure you are watering your cuttings regularly and giving them bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. 

How to Re-Pot Your Acacia Limelight Once It Takes Root

It’s important to wait long enough before re-potting your cuttings as they have incredibly sensitive roots. 

Remove your cuttings carefully from the seeding tray and gently plant them into a pot. As acacia cognata plants grow naturally in poor soil conditions, you can use a native mix of organic compounds for your soil. 

Try to keep your pot in a spot that is warm and gets plenty of indirect sunlight. In the early growing stages, cuttings can be negatively affected by too much direct sunlight. However, too little light will also prevent growth. 

It is recommended to leave your growing acacia cognata in the pot for at least 3 months before transplanting it into a bigger pot or garden bed.

acacia cognata prefer to grow in full sun to part shade and they all prefer a well drained soil

Source: pma.com.au

How Do You Care for Acacia Cognata?

Acacia cognata care really doesn’t require much once the plant is established. This particular cultivar will maintain its exquisite lime green colour, even in times of drought.

So, when it comes to watering, you won’t have to worry much. Should you experience a season with particularly low rainfall, consider supplementing with some additional water once a week. Otherwise, your acacia limelight will get all the water it needs from the natural rainfall. 

It’s also always a good idea to support your cognata with some additional fertilizer during springtime, which will help boost growth. Any native fertilizer will do the trick. 

How Do You Care for Acacia Cognata

How Do You Prune Acacia Cognata? 

Pruning will be the only laborious aspect of your acacia cognata care. Pruning can be done to promote plant health, vigorous growth and maintain shape and size. 

How much you will want to prune your cognata will depend on where you’re growing it. For instance, for an acacia cognata hedge, you will want to prune more regularly to ensure the right shape and size. 

In general, you can cut back as much as half of your acacia cognata hedge using a sterilized pair of garden shears.

Pests, Problems & Diseases

This cultivar is relatively pest and disease-free, meaning you won’t have many issues throughout your growing journey. 

The only issues some growers have experienced is with red spider mites and mealybugs. Luckily these are easily treated with an organic, horticultural spray or neem oil. 

Worms, caterpillars and borers may also take favour to your acacia limelight. The most common pest you may encounter is the incredibly invasive shot hole borer. You will need to undertake immediate reactive treatment, as these garden pests tend to spread. 

Common Wattle Problems

While it’s not specific to the acacia limelight, many wattle trees are highly susceptible to root rot or Phytophthora cinnamomi. This highly intrusive rot attacks the tissues of the plant, causing it to wilt and eventually collapse. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to treat this kind of rot and it’s best to remove an infected plant before it can infect the rest of your garden. Be sure to sterilise and clean any materials used to remove the tree in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Wrapping Up our Growing Guide

If your goal is to grow lush, ornamental foliage, then the acacia cognata is the way to go. Take care when establishing your cutting, ensuring you give it enough time to root and when replanting is very gentle with those roots. 

Once established, your acacia cognata hedge or shrub will just need plenty of sun and some occasional watering. Keep an eye on your soil to make sure it’s always draining adequately. 

Follow these tips, and you’ll have plenty of beautifully growing acacia cognata trees all around your garden.

Acacia Cognata Australian Guide All You Need to Know

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  1. I am also interested to know the answer as I have planted a screening hedge of “copper tops”.

  2. Thank you for the information on rooting cuttings. But I don't quite understand. It says to take a 10cm cutting, strip the leaves from the lower half, and then "…cut it down to 5cm" what does that mean?

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for your question! When propagating a cutting, you want to start with a longer, 10cm piece of healthy plant and then cut it down to 5cm just before you plant it. This is because as soon as you remove the cutting, the end starts to die off.

    By removing an additional 5cm after you’ve spent time preparing the cutting, you put the freshest possible end into the soil to help improve the cutting’s chances of succeeding.

    If you are working with a short cutting for any reason, we recommend keeping the cut end of the stem in water while you prepare it to help keep it fresh, or simply removing 1cm before you plant it rather than 5cm.

    I hope that answers your question!

    The AGT Team

  4. I have several growing and don't know if they are just old and need replacing, or if I can transplant them. Most look very tired though one is spectacularly gorgeous and healthy. I will have a go at cuttings from that one.

    1) What is their approximate lifespan in a suburban – previously neglected – garden?

    2) The soil is poor there and I suspect builder's rubble underneath.

    3) Are they worth pruning and transplanting?

    4) Will transplanting damage roots? Is it safe to trim roots? I can't afford to put them in huge pots.

    5) If potting, how big should the pots be? They are about a metre high with a lot of dead looking branches in the middle and sparse leaves on the end.

    I only discovered your website today and I love it. Thank you for your straightforwad comments and suggestions,


  5. Hi Ismene,

    Thank you for your questions!

    Acacia cognata are short-lived but very beautiful plants, and those in the garden have likely simply reached the end of their lifespan, which is typically 10 years or less. They usually show this by dying off rapidly in large portions in their final seasons.

    Their root systems are also very sensitive, so we don’t recommend transplanting them, and even a healthy plant can suffer or die if moved. The healthier one is possibly younger, and it’s definitely a good idea to take some cuttings.

    These should be taken from the newest growth, dipped in rooting hormone solution or powder, and planted in small containers of loose of bark chips/native potting mix and river sand (or sand from where your current acacia cognatas are growing).

    The mix should be kept moist but drain easily. Rooting can take 5-6 weeks, and you can transplant them once new growth starts to appear. If you are planting your cuttings into a pot, we recommend a container that has around 20 litres capacity to give the plant space to grow through its entire lifetime.

    Again, it won’t need rich soil, and we recommend a mix of well-draining, low phosphate potting mix and river sand, and that you add a little native plant fertilizer in spring to support growth.

    In terms of soil improvement, they actually thrive on neglect and poor soil quality, which is one of the great benefits of native plants! It may be a good idea to add some bark chips and compost suited to native plants when you replant the area, but too much nutrition can be bad for growth.

    Just remember to water them well once a week or when the soil becomes dry while they are establishing their root system.

    I hope that answers your questions!

    The AGT Team

  6. Thank you for the information.I just bought 140mm acacia limelight congrate.(27 plants)
    How can I bring them up to 1.5m tall(standed)
    Thank you

  7. Hi Perera,

    Thank you for your question! Acacia limelight are traditionally compact, small and have a ‘weeping’ structure where it droops softly and elegantly towards the ground, growing to a maximum of 1x1m in a rounded shape.

    Unfortunately, if you want your acacia limelight to grow tall (1.5-2m) with a distinct trunk, you will have to buy a standard as they cannot grow this tall trunk on their own. In a standard, this taller variety is created by grafting a budding acacia limelight onto tall rootstock from another plant.

    This is how almost all standards are made, and while it sounds complex, it’s a process that has been around for hundreds of years, helping to change the shape of plants as well as creating healthier fruit-trees and vines.

    When buying a standard acacia limelight, be sure to purchase one that is approximately the height you are looking for, as they are unlikely to get much taller.

    I hope that answers your question.

    The AGT Team

  8. I have three Acacia Cognata green screen trees and one is loosing its leaves and the leaves are going brown before they fall, it has still some parts of it with leaves and now in spring it has flowers but not as many as the other two, it looks very bare, what can I do to get it back to health.

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