If you are looking for value from a drought tolerant shrub, then Leucadendrons certainly fit the bill.
From South Africa, these long lived plants provide colour almost year round, and of course even more so when in flower.
They are increasingly popular in California and Texas and are sometimes called the Conebush.
Some species are tall growing, other low growing ranging from 3 ft to 15 ft. If you choose the right variety you can find a great plant for container growing or in the ground.
Another advantage of these hardy plants is that they thrive in poor soils, they rarely require fertiliser, and in fact you should make sure that if you do use fertiliser it must be a no phosphate type.
Leucadendrons are popular plants in the garden border, and are also used widely in the cut flower and foliage industry. They are loved by the florists as they have such a long life and can last in arrangement from 3 – 6 weeks depending on the care and the species.
In the garden they also shine, flowering for weeks with brilliant colors, and easy care plants they are as well.
The flower itself is actually two parts, the stiff colorful bracts and the cone like flower itself in the centre. However it is the female plants that have the central cones, male plants do not and are seen as a little inferior in the garden.
With many leucodendron species and even more cultivars the choice is great with this genus. Leucadendron laureolum x strobilinum with its large bright flowers is an excellent example.
If you are looking for an easy care, low maintenance plant then Leucadendrons are it. Best in USDA zones 9 – 11, although with care you may be able to grow them in a cooler zone.
They require a sunny position and a well drained soil, after that they are happy. Drainage is very important, so consider raising the garden bed if you live in an area with wet soils. The quality of the soil is not that important, and fertilizer is not required very often.
We do like to mulch around Leucadendrons to provide a cool root run, however this is actually to suppress weeds.
- Well drained soil.
- Full Sun.
- Do not fertilize unless it is a No Phosphate fertilizer.
- Water only in long dry spells.
- Mulch around to suppress weeds.
- Stake young plants until root systems develop.
- Try not to transplant larger plants.
- Plants such as the popular Leacodendron ‘Safari Sunset’ will grow to nearly 8′ and are generally a drought tolerant plant.
- Leucodendron argenteum is a silver foliaged plant, fast growing and very attractive.
- Leucadendron modestum is also popular (pictured right).
- Leucodendon galpinii ( silver balls) has green – silver foliage and ball like cones or flowers. While ‘ Winter Red’ has lovely red / pink foliage, and again is frost and drought tolerant.
You may also be interested in
- Telopea – The Waratahs
- Drought Tolerant Plants
Leucadendrons come in two types, Single flower and Multi Flower. These need to be pruned differently. However the general rule is to prune regularly from a young age.
If you let Leucadendrons get to leggy and woody, it is difficult to get them back into shape. When hard pruned into old wool they tend not to reshoot and you loose the plant.
Single Flower Types
Tip Prune for the first season. After that prune as if you were picking long stemmed flowers alway leaving a good amount of foliage on the stem.
Multi Flower Types
Prune as if you were cutting long stemmed clusters of flowers.
Leucadendrons are available for sale from the following nurseries
AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS NURSERY Tel: (800) 701 6517
9040 North Ventura Avenue Ventura California 93001
Botanical name: Leucadendron salignum, steligerum, lauroleum, floridum and around 75 other species plus and hybrids.
Common name: Conebush, leucadendron
Climate : USDA zones 9-10. Best in low humidity and light frosts only.
Soil: Well drained slightly acidic.
Watering : Low to Moderate.
Light: Full sun for best colour to partial shade.
Height: 3 – 8ft depending on variety. Easily pruned.
Spread : To a width of around 5ft depending on variety.
Flower Colour : Red to yellow and and almost white depending on variety
Flowering Time : Fall to Winter
Foliage : Green