Sunday, 11 March 2012

Try growing: Banksias

Banksias are iconic Australian plants, and grow in many parts of the country. The banksias that grow in the Illawarra include some of the best-known and most attractive species. We have found them fairly easy to grow, with a little attention to getting the drainage right - most of them hail from the sandstone parts of the region and don't especially like heavy soil!


One of the big positives with banksias is that they will flower even when quite young, as we found out this autumn:
Some banksias can flower within 6 months of planting
Classic banksias from the Illawarra include the coastal banksia (B. integrifolia), which can grow into a large tree, saw or 'old man' banksia (B. serrata), heath-leaved banksia (B. ericifolia), with its short bright green leaves and brilliant orange flower spikes, and the hairpin banksia (B. spinulosa) pictured above. 
Hairpin banksia candles starting to develop
If your garden is small, like ours, there is a wide range of cultivars available that will grow to something less than the normal height. Prostrate forms of several species have been developed, and make impressive displays at the Illawarra Grevillea Park (next open on 28 and 29 April). 


Other less well-known banksia species from the region are silver banksia (B. marginata) and wallum banksia (B. aemula). Both are a good size for gardens, and are equally obliging with flower spikes.
Wallum banksia
Banksias are great food plants for native creatures, including honey-eaters, a range of insects and tiny pygmy possums. 

2 comments:

  1. I'm really enjoying your blog! I love banksias too. The Wallum banksia is very beautiful. I was wondering if you propagate native plants for your own garden?

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  2. Yes, I propagate plants for our garden and for friends who are looking to grow things. It's something I've only started doing recently, and it's very much trial and effort. No luck so far on banksias for example!

    But we've had some success with eucalypts, prostantheras, grevilleas and a range of grasses... Some amazing folk round the Illawarra can propagate even the trickiest species, such as geebungs (Persoonias), but we're a long way from that!

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