With Christmas fast approaching, consider growing Woolly Bush as a living native Australian Christmas tree and take another step towards more sustainable practices in the home and the garden.
Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus), also known as Wooly Bush and Albany Wooly Bush is a medium sized shrub or small tree native to Western Australia. Better suited to temperate and Mediterranean climates, the frost tolerant native is a medium sized shrub-small tree with green hair-like leaves that are soft to the touch. It grows up to 1-2 metres and taller in some instances with about 1 metre wide.
Adenanthos sericeus has a compact growth habit and its upright branches with their soft needle-like foliage is reminiscent of a Christmas tree. It requires very little maintenance but it can be pruned to your liking to create a traditional Christmas tree shape.
During spring and summer, it produces tubular orange-red flowers.
How to Grow Woolly Bush
Plant Woolly Bush in full sun to part shade in rich but well-drained soil. Water well and once it is established, it is relatively drought tolerant but don’t leave it to dry for long periods. Like many Australian native plants, don’t overwater and ensure good drainage to avoid root rot and mulch well avoiding contact with the trunk.
Adenanthos sericeus is a relatively low maintenance plant. At the start of spring, fertilise using a native, low phosphorus fertiliser. Prune the plant after flowering in spring to ensure it maintains a compact habit.
Growing in a Container
In my courtyard garden, I’m growing Albany Woolly Bush in a large container in a position that gets full sun but is not shielded from the wind. In my coastal location, I get strong sea breezes and with the garden being exposed on three aspects, it gets rather windy which means it has a tendency of falling over.
As much as it would best secured against a wall or a fence, I simply don’t have the luxury of space. As a temporary measure, I have added a couple of bricks to the container to steady the plant. Hopefully it won’t damage its shallow roots. If I had the space to grow it in the ground, I would use a stake to keep it upright.
Aside from the plant toppling over in strong winds, I noticed another curiosity. As it matures, the leaves start to lose their softness.
Woolly Bush can double as a shrub or a hedge if you have the space. For me, it’s having an ornamental, sensory and low maintenance Australian native Christmas tree all year round.
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