Monday, 21 May 2018

Try growing: Branching Grass-flag (Libertia paniculata)

It's about time I featured another small plant. Most gardens don't have space for a(nother) tree - though some of us keep trying! - and there are plenty of lesser-known shrubs, forbs, herbs, grasses and so on that are worth growing. 

One of my favourites is Branching Grass-flag, a clumping perennial with strappy leaves and and white iris-like flowers in spring. Plants grow from an underground rhizome, which can grow quite large in mature specimens. They look great in pots or in garden beds, grown en masse or combined with other species. Try mixing in Yellow Buttons (Chrysocephalum apiculatum) with its contrasting yellow-orange flowers or the low-growing Native Violets (Viola hederacea or even V. betonicifolia if you can get hold of plants).

An established Branching Grass-flag like this one can
flower profusely in spring. Image by Elena Martinez.

Branching Grass-flag likes part or dappled shade, and a more or less permanently moist position. From what I've seen, it isn't too fussy about soil type as long as it gets regular moisture. 

This plant is growing happily in a pot.
 Image by Elena Martinez.

One challenge with this species is getting hold of the plants. It can sometimes be found at Wollongong Botanic Garden's GreenPlan sales, and I've seen it at Sutherland Shire Community Nursery now and then. Let me know if you are aware of a regular supplier! 

Here Branching Grass-flag is being used as an edging
plant alongside rough paving. This shot was taken at
Wollongong Botanic Garden, where you can go and see
the plant for yourself. Image by Leon Fuller.

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