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Hakea bucculenta | Growing + Care Guide Australia

Hakea bucculenta, more affectionately known as red-poker, are an incredible flowering Hakea species. Endemic to Australia, this upright-growing, narrow-leaved shrub is a great addition to Aussie gardens, especially in particularly arid regions.

Whether as a hedge plant, screening plant or cultivated in isolation, this fantastic shrub will bring a brilliant pop of colour to your garden.

Here is everything you need to know to cultivate, care for and grow Hakea bucculenta


Introducing the Hakea bucculenta

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

Red pokers are part of the Hakea genus, an endemic evergreen plant with over 140 different species.

Each species has varying growth habits, flowers and needs. Still, each is equally as brilliant as the next. 

Hakea Bucculenta

Photo: Ivan Holliday, Westflora on Flickr

The bucculenta species is an evergreen shrub, which produces long, orange-red flower spikes, meaning they have a strong visual impact when grown in the wild and in gardens. 

In its natural habitat, this species can grow as much as 7 metres tall; however, in cultivation it will likely only reach around 4 metres. 

Being a prevalent nectar producer, hakea red pokers will bring a range of birds, bees and butterflies to your garden. You will, however, need to keep an eye out for parrots who tend to feast on the fruits of this shrub. 

With a fairly hassle-free growth habit and superior adaptability in less than ideal conditions, Hakea bucculenta are a great option for most gardens.

How to Grow Hakea bucculenta

Growing Hakea bucculenta is fairly simple, and they will often adapt in most conditions, provided they are planted in plenty of well-draining soil.

It is recommended to grow red pokers amongst other shrubs, as this will help shield them slightly from major winds, to which this species is quite susceptible. 

For optimum flowering, you’ll want to pick a warm and very sunny spot. Overly shaded areas will result in stunted growth and a lack of blooms in the springtime.

It is important to note that species prefer dry, arid conditions. So, while it can be grown in coastal regions, you will need to ensure that the soil is never too moist or water-logged. 

This particular species is also frost-tender and will need to be protected in the extreme cold. Mulching will help to keep the soil warm, and the rest of the plant can be covered with an old cloth or burlap sack.

How to Propagate Hakea Red Poker

how to grow hakea bucculenta

As with other Hakea species, attempting propagation through cutting is not advised. It can be a tedious process that requires patience and perfect conditions. Success with a cutting is not guaranteed. 

As such, propagation by seed is the best option. Seeds are readily available from existing plants or from native seed providers and will only take around 3 to 4 weeks to germinate.

While these seeds can be sown any time of year, it is best to avoid the hottest and coldest times. As such, sowing of hakea seeds should be undertaken in either spring or autumn. 

Here’s what you’ll need to do: 

  1. Prepare a seeding tray with a porous seeding mix.
  2. Sow the seed into the mix and cover lightly, with a small amount of seeding mix. 
  3. Water well to allow the seed to lodge into the soil. 
  4. Store your seeding tray in a warm, semi-shaded spot to germinate. The ideal germination temperature is between 18-20°C.
  5. Keep the soil moist. Ensure it is never overly wet nor completely dry. Using a mister will help to balance out the moisture. 
  6. Germination should take anywhere between 14 and 42 days. 
  7. Re-plant into a larger pot once new growth begins to appear.

Propagating Red Pokers in Winter

There is an option to prepare seeds, should the outdoor conditions be unideal for propagation, for instance, in winter. Simply store your seeds in a closed container with a good amount of moist vermiculite seeding mix. 

Once a root has begun to form and reaches about a centimetre in length, you can replant the seed into a pot with a rich seeding mix. Be sure to keep the pot in a warm and sunny spot until outdoor conditions improve.

Caring for Hakea bucculenta

Hakea bucculenta is quite a showy plant, mostly due to its roughyl 15cm long orangered flower spikes

Source: Nurseriesonline.com.au

Plant care is one of the easiest parts of growing red pokers, as they won’t require much care and attention once planted. Again, this species likes it dry, so moderate to little watering will be required. Should it be a particularly humid or rainy season, avoid additional watering altogether. 

A general-purpose fertiliser can be added in the spring once new growth has started to appear. This will help to promote large and bright blooms. 

Mulching is also a great option to support the nutrient value of the soil and protect the roots during the winter. However, take care not to mulch too close to the base of the shrub.

Covering the base in mulch may lead to rot. Consider creating a mulch ring instead. Pruning is not a necessity but can be done to regulate shape, especially if the plant is being used for hedging.

Spent flowers can also be cut away at the end of the flowering season. Be sure to use a sterilized pair of gardening shears or loppers to avoid the spread of any diseases. 

Potential Red Pokers Problems

Another benefit of growing Hakea bucculenta is that it is relatively pest-resistant. Besides a potential frenzied parrot, you shouldn’t have any issues with smaller insects or invaders affecting your plant. 

However, growing this plant in overly humid conditions can result in the development of a fungus. Keep a close eye on your soil to make sure it is continually draining and allow it to dry out completely in very wet seasons. 

Another potential issue is Cinnamon Dieback. Dieback is a major concern for many endemic species and will result in the death of your red poker plant. This is why it is not advised to take seeds or cuttings from plants growing in the wild.

Dieback can affect all the plants in your garden once introduced, so take extreme care. Should you suspect a dieback infection, be sure to remove and burn the infected plant immediately.

Looking for some other hakeas to grow alongside your Hakea bucculenta? Here are our other guides too: 

Hakea bucculenta  Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hakea bucculenta native to Australia?

Hakea bucculenta is native to Australia and is one of around 1250 different Hakeas that grow naturally on our shores. Hakea bucculenta grows best in slightly temperature zones with changeable summers and winters, where its evergreen foliage is encouraged to drop when new growth comes through.

What is the difference between Grevillea and Hakea?

Aside from the flower form, there isn’t really much difference between Grevillea and Hakea. In fact, Hakea is a lower classification of Grevillea. Each flower on hakea is distinguishable from grevillea by its thicker, denser fronds, and more even colour, which creates a more even pompom, rather than the loose poker of Grevillea.

Is Hakea bucculenta fast growing?

Hakea bucculenta is a fast-growing shrub, and can reach up to 4 metres tall after around ten years, making a stunning addition to gardens if you manage to get hold of one.

The foliage is simple with subtle ribbing, helping it to withstand wind conditions too.

Is Hakea bucculenta a eucalyptus?

While the foliage of Hakea bucculenta might resemble eucalyptus leaves, they are very different plants, with vividly different flowers and bud forms. Hakea is not a direct relative of eucalyptus.

Can Hakea bucculenta grow in shade?

Hakea bucculenta can grow in partial shade but does need sun to grow well. Aim for well-drained soil in partial sun for its first few years, and expect it to overtake any trees or shrubs planted around it once it establishes.

Is Hakea bucculenta poisonous?

While Hakea bucculenta isn’t strictly toxic or poisonous, it should not be mistaken for Grevillea with its edible nectar and powerful fragrance. Hakea are ornamental plants and are not intended for culinary or edible uses.

Can you grow Hakea bucculenta as a hedge?

It's really quite easy to grow any species of Hakea, including bucculenta, as a hedge or shrub. Simply prune it as you would with grevillea to a few inches shorter than the desired height each year to control its growth.

What birds feed on Hakea bucculenta?

Cockatoos feed on the nectar and fruits of Hakea bucculenta making it a great plant for native birds. The woody fruits are hard for most animals to eat, so are great at providing reliable natural food for birds without the risk of other pests getting there first.

Do bees like Hakea bucculenta?

Bees love Hakea bucculenta, and in southeast Australia, it’s a great way to attract stingless bees into the garden. The open flowers are easy to pollinate and have readily available nectar for bees.

Why are my hakea’s leaves turning yellow?

If your hakea leaves are turning yellow, it may be down to over watering. Check the moisture in the soil at the base of the plant. If the soil is moist, but the leaves are drooping, stop watering, or try to improve drainage by digging the plant out of the ground and adding a generous layer of grit.

Is Hakea bucculenta evergreen?

Hakea is an evergreen tree in every part of Australia, no matter what part of the garden it grows in. The reliable green foliage helps to define the borders of gardens and provides natural boundaries to your plot all year round.

Is Hakea bucculenta frost tolerant?

In cooler parts of Australia, frost can be a problem for many gardeners, but thankfully Hakea bucculenta is frost tolerant and will survive most frozen conditions. Even cold winds are simply brushed aside with little damage by these tough plants.

Hakea Bucculenta How To Grow and Care Australian Guide

Start Growing Hakea bucculenta Today

Picking an Aussie native to grow in your garden is always a good idea. If you’re planning on growing this pretty, flower-producing plant, be sure to give it all the sunlight it needs for a plentiful bloom.

Make sure your soil is well-draining, and don’t be afraid to give a little boost with some fertiliser in the spring. There you have it, you are now all set to start growing Hakea bucculenta

Last Updated on February 22, 2024

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