Banksia plants are native to Australia and are a varied group of plants. Many varieties having wonderful long lasting flowers, with B.integrifolia and B.serrata being two of the most garden worthy species for the USA.
Banksia occidentalis with its spectacular ‘Bottle Brush’ flowers, pictured right, is known as the Red Swamp Banksia and can reach between 6ft and 15ft in height. Usually small in cultivation.
Some are large growing, however it is the smaller cultivars that are most widely used in the garden. some are very low growing and make excellent ground cover plants.
Flowering from Fall and Winter through to summer depending on the species, many have attractive flowers.
Where to plant
Like many Australian Native plants, these are a plant that require a very well drained soil and a sunny aspect. The drainage part is the most important part. Generally USDA zones 6b to 10 however this will depend on the species.
So any area with a wet winter and a dry summer, however not heavy frosts and freezes for most, and always in a position with good drainage and in full sun.
Soil and Fertilizer
Poor soil is almost a prerequisite, forget the fertilizers. Banksias have a root system that allows it to take nutrients from poor soil, and they do not like phosphates
Banksias do not take well to pruning, although you can tip prune them from an early age, hard pruning or cutting back into old wood is generally a disaster.
With literally 100s of species it may seem easiest to divide this group into sizes.
- Low growing ground cover types such as Banksia petiolaris and Banksia lechnifolia.
- Tall screening plants such as Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata.
- Medium sized plants such as Banksia ericifolia var. ericifolia.
Or you could look for the most spectacular flowers such as those Banksia ericifolia and Banksia menziesii, both wonderful for attracting hummingbirds.
However this does not always work as their is great variation within species. For example, Banksia serrata will grow to 20ft, however a low growing cultivar ‘pygmy possum’ will reach around 3ft.
Choosing the right Banksia
Look for named cultivars if you want to be sure of height and flower form, it is really that simple
Propagation is from seed, it will take some skill, we suggest buying established plants instead.
Where to Buy
You can find a good range for sale at the following nurseries
AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS NURSERY Tel: (800) 701 6517 Tel: (805) 649 3362
P.O. Box 1606 Oak View CA93022 U.S.A