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Adenanthos Sericeus (Woolly Bush) Growing & Care Guide

Adenanthos Sericeus, also called Albany Woolly Bush or Silver Streak plant, is a native Australian plant and a beautiful addition to any garden.

Often used as an indigenous Christmas tree because of its triangular shape and silvery-green leaves that resemble a dusting of snow.


This shrub is perfectly suited to the Australian climate. In our ultimate guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about growing and caring for this easy and iconic Aussie favourite.

What is the Albany Woolly Bush?

Adenanthos Sericeus is a native Australian plant and a beautiful addition to any garden

Source: Thetutuguru.com.au

The Albany Woolly Bush is a perennial small tree or shrub that grows to approximately 1.5-3m in height with a 1-3m spread, making it a great addition to smaller gardens as well as large ones.

Although it has red flowers that attract birdlife, it is the silky, silvery-green foliage that is the main attraction of this tree.

Growing Adenanthos Sericeus

As with all plants, the Albany woolly bush has it’s preferences for soil type, climate and other environmental factors.

  • Sun – The tree does well in full sunlight but will also grow in light shade.

  • Soil – As a native plant, it enjoys sandy as well as loamy and combination sandy/loamy soils. It can also handle salt well, and is a great addition for coastal properties.

    In terms of soil Ph, it tolerates fairly acid, neutral and fairly alkaline soils easily. The soil should drain well and not waterlog the plant.

  • Water – It will need regular watering at first, but once it’s established it tolerates drought fairly well. During the first 6 months, water once a week or if you notice the soil is very dry.

    Once the tree is established it should be able to survive well on rain water unless a severe drought strikes.

  • Climate – This tree grows well in all Australian climates, including coastal areas, semi-arid environments, and both cool and warm temperate climates. It will also tolerate light frost.

  • Nutrients – Because it is a native plant, it requires little or no fertilizer, although a dose of a slow release low phosphorus fertiliser like a 13-2-13, a 14-0-14 or a native blend fertiliser in the spring is recommended.
What is the Albany Woolly Bush

Source: Brenlissaonlinenursery.com.au

Should I Fertilise Native Australian Plants?

Because the Adenanthos Sericeus is a native Australian plant, it is well-adapted to the local environment and doesn’t really require additional nutrients. However, you can fertilise your tree with a single dose of slow-release or native blend fertiliser in the spring to boost growth.

It is important to use a low phosphorus fertiliser, as native plants have adapted to the low phosphorus environment, and a high dose of phosphorus may damage the plant.

For the same reason, it’s best to avoid using manures and composts on native plants.

Can I Grow a Woolly Bush in a Container or Pot?

Growing Adenanthos Sericeus

Source: Domusnursery.com.au

Yes, these trees grow well in pots, providing that it is a fairly large size container. Use soil from your garden, as this is ideal for native plants, and water once a week or when the soil is dry.

While the woolly bush is drought tolerant, it will need more frequent watering if it is in a container, as it has limited access to moisture in the soil. It should be fed once a year in the early spring with a low phosphorus or native blend fertiliser.

Should I Use Soil Improvers on Native Australian Plants?

Some soil improvers like lime or dolomite can raise the Ph of the soil too high for native plants. Instead, use gypsum, as this won’t affect soil Ph.

Is the Albany Woolly Bush Fast-Growing?

This is a fast-growing plant that quickly becomes established if it has well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine.

Pruning Your Adenanthos Sericeus

Pruning Your Adenanthos Sericeus

This is a very low maintenance plant, so pruning is optional. Most people only prune it to create a desirable shape, especially if the tree is growing in a container or more ornamental garden. It can also be cut into a hedge or as topiary.

Adenanthos Sericeus can also take a severe pruning well, and should produce strong growth and new foliage after.

Treating Pests and Diseases

This is a very hardy shrub that is resistant to most pests and diseases, which is one of the best advantages of using native plants in your garden. On occasions, it may suffer from the following:

  • Dieback – Caused by the soil-borne Phytophthora cinnamomi fungus, dieback is a severe problem facing indigenous plants in Australia. The fungus can stay dormant for long periods during dry weather, and then spread quickly from plant to plant through soil disruption and moisture. 

    To prevent it, always use clean tools when pruning your tree, dispose of garden waste carefully, and get soil and gardening materials from responsible sources.

    To detect dieback, look for distinct areas between healthy and diseased vegetation, especially in native plants. To treat dieback, you need a dieback treatment solution which should be available at your local nursery.

    Small trees with a chest diameter of less than 10-14cm should be sprayed with the solution, while larger trees require an injection of the solution.

    Treatment should be repeated every 3-5 years for injections and every 1-2 years for spray solutions.
  • Mealybugs – On rare occasions, woolly bushes can get minor infestations of mealybugs, which look like soft, cottony masses on the leaves and stems of the plant.

    These are sap-sucking pests that can damage the plant, but the main risk is that the pests will spread to more vulnerable plants in the garden. 

    You can wash them away with a blast of water from the hosepipe, use an insecticidal soap/spray or neem oil, or make a mix of 1 tablespoon dish soap to 500ml of water and spray the plant.

    Repeat the process every few days as new eggs hatch. 

How Do You Propagate Adenanthos Sericeus?

You can propagate this plant at home. It’s best to do multiple cuttings at a time, as the propagation is not always successful. All you need to do is:

  • Take a cutting of 5-10cm in spring or autumn. It’s best if you take your cutting from new growth rather than older growth.

  • Place it in a container of water, submerging the cutting completely.

  • Pinch off the leaves at the base of the cutting, leaving 1-2cm of leaves at the top.

  • Dip the base of the cutting into rooting powder.

  • Place the cutting in a small container of soil from your garden or potting soil from your local nursery.

  • Place the container in a spot that gets plenty of light but no direct sunlight, and keep the soil moist.

  • At 3 months, move cuttings that are showing new growth into larger pots and feed with a weak dose of native blend, low phosphorus fertiliser.

  • In 6 months, the cutting should be ready for planting. 

Adenanthos Sericeus (Woolly Bush) Growing and Care Guide Australia

Start Growing Your Woolly Bush Today!

Overall, the woolly bush is a fantastic addition to any garden. It is exceptionally low maintenance and drought resistant, and can grow anywhere in Australia, including the coast.

It requires little to no pruning, can grow well as a container plant, and only requires a single dose of native blend, low phosphorus fertiliser in the spring in order to thrive.

Now you have all the information you need to grow this great native plant and enjoy Australia’s own Christmas tree, the Adenanthos Sericeus!

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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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)

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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’?

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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?


  23. 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

  24. Hi , just wondering if this would grow ok in the tamworth area, hot summers, frosty winters in black soil…TIA

  25. I planted a pencil wool bush about three years ago in Perth. Unfortunately the tips are turning brown as though it is dying. At the base in the center of the plant the off shoots are all brown. I have bore retic 3 times a week except winter). Would this much watering be too much for the plant? I have just given it a seasol hopping it springs back. I have also tip pruned removing the brown sections. From information I have read it could be a case of month infestation however I cant see any caterpillars/moths? Advice has been use MAVRIC from Bunnings, I am yet to try this. Is there anything else I can do to save the plant?

  26. Hi Leigh – Where did you get your Wooly bush from? I live on the Sunny coast and really want one but didnt think you could get them in qld? 🙂 thanks

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