If native birds and wildlife is what you want in your garden then Grevilleas are for you. These natives of Australia all contain nectar (except for one or two) and are simply irresistible to our native feathered friends. Commonly known as the spider flower the Grevillea genus consists of over 250 species with new hybrids being developed yearly.
With so many varieties it is not surprising that they are very diverse in their growth habits, flower styles (which come in every colour of the rainbow), and foliage. Ranging from sprawling ground covers to large rainforest trees, most are easily grown in our Queensland climate.
Here are few "tried & true" varieties that have been grown successfully by the home gardener for years.
Grevillea "Poorind Royal Mantle"
Grevillea "Bronze Rambler"
Grevillea biternata (Syn. Curviloba)
Grevillea banigera "Mt Tamboritha Form"
Grevillea Banksii "Prostrate Red Form"
Grevillea "Robyn Gordon"
Grevillea "Ned Kelly"
Grevillea "Scarlet Sprite"
Grevillea "Miss Muffet"
Tall Shrubs/Small Trees
Grevillea "Honey Gem"
Grevillea "Robusta" (10 metres)
Grevillea "Hilliana" (15 metres)
Grevillea "Bailyana" (8 metres)
Grevilleas are the largest genus in the proteaeae family which makes them close cousins of the South African Proteas, Australian Hakeas & the ivory curl flower (Buckinghamia). There is only a handful that are not native to Australia, with some coming from our neighbours Papua New Guinea & New Caledonia.
Grevilleas are very easy to grow and are ideal in a dry "water wise" garden. Most of them flower from Winter to Spring but some will give you blooms all year round. All Grevilleas love full sun and because they don't like wet feet they will adore a slopping or raised garden bed. Dry conditions and long periods without rain will not trouble them and a good water once a week when they are established will be sufficient.
When planting your Grevillea dig a hole and mix in Searles Native Plants Mix. This will give them a flying start. Strong roots develop early so try not to disturb them when planting. Once they have settled in mulch them to help prevent weeds from growing around them.
Maintenance of your Grevillea is minimal. Fertilising only needs to be done once every 3 months. Like most natives they have a dislike for phosphorous so Searles Native Food is excellent, as it is specially formulated with a low Phosphorus content.
As Grevilleas get on in age they can develop old & woody branch's and lots of dead twigs. To clean them out and to make them look fresh again, pruning should be carried out in October. At this time you can cut them back by 1/3 to 1/2, with a follow up tip prune 2 months later. In doing so, you will end up with specimen with bushy new growth all over & an abundance of flowers.
Grevilleas are not normally troubled by any pests because of the high number of birds they attract that keep insects under control. Root rot can be a common cause of death to Grevilleas in wet conditions. Occasionally the plant will curl up its leaves and simply fall over within a couple of days. Choosing a free draining slopping garden bed will help in preventing this from happening to yours.
Propagation of Grevilleas should always be done by cuttings. Take half ripened tips in summer and strike them in Searles Propagating Mix. Growing Grevilleas from cuttings is preferred because they are true to type (meaning "what you see is what you get"). Seed grown plants occasionally throw back to the parent plant.
What you will need
In recent years hybridising has become very popular in Grevilleas with an extraordinary diverse range of varieties being developed, with new ones being released regularly. You are sure to find one that suits your needs and in no time at all you will have a flourishing habitat for our native birds.
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