Grevillea

31 May

Grevillea, evergreen shrub or small tree, fast growth, variable in size from 3 to over 20 ft., dense graceful upright to rounded growth habit, spikes of waxy pink to red flowers most of the year, best in poor soil, sun to part shade, drought tolerant, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant, excellent foundation or screen plant.

The grevilleas are a remarkable and beautiful group of plants. The variability between species is incredible but characteristic to the Protea family (Proteaceae) of which they belong; the namesake of the family, the god Proteus was noted for his ability to change his appearance and form at will. Among the 270 or more species, almost entirely from Australia, the habit can be that of a large forest tree or a diminutive crevice plant. The color and structure of the flowers and leaf size and shape are so different in the many species that their relationship is often lost to the casual observer. Shared attributes that might be noted as common to the genus are that they are woody evergreen plants that usually have interestingly intricate and beautiful flowers. Grevilleas are planted for their floral and foliage display as well as ability to attract nectar-feeding birds to the garden.

As the plants are a diverse group, there are a wide range of conditions that they will grow under. The following generalized statements regarding the cultivation of grevilleas would apply to a majority of the plants in cultivation. Grevilleas flower best in sunny, dry locations although they will also grow in light shade. Plant in well-draining soil and be very careful of any fertilizers applied to these plants; many Grevillea, especially Western Australian species, are highly sensitive to phosphorus and the use of fertilizers high in this element can be fatal to these plants. They also do not like excessive watering and garden water tolerance or ability to grow near lawns will be exceptions rather than the rule. Regular pruning after flowering is recommended to enhance and rejuvenate flowering and plant growth. Most varieties are drought tolerant, as well as frost hardy down to 20 º F.

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