Down Under Plants

Many of our exotic plants and unusual plants come from the antipodes, in particular the eucalyptus, callistemon, banksia and tree ferns are quite unique. This page explores some of these plants that I have grown and come to love over the years, struggled with and fought with in our unsuitable climate, but nevertheless admired.

Acacia baileyana

Cootamundra Wattle 15 seeds җ
Acacia baileyana is the floral emblem of the small rural township of Cootamundra is a well-known Australian species, principally on account of its popularity in cultivation. Baileyana grows to a large bushy shrub or small tree, commonly reaching 5–10 m high, and is typically freely branching from 1–2 m above the ground, plants growing in dense regrowth stands tend to be somewhat spindly whereas in open sites they are more robust. The short bipinnate leaves are usually grey/green in colour, the flower heads are lemon yellow and arranged in elongated showy racemes. Cootamundra Wattle is an adaptable, fairly hardy species that is fast-growing, relatively short-lived, frost resistant to perhaps -5°C preferring cool, higher rainfall areas.

Acacia baileyana purpurea

Mimosa 15 seeds җ
Acacia baileyana purpurea  - a lovely blue/purple leafed form of the Cootamundra Wattle with clusters of yellow flowers in the spring. Maybe hardy to about -5°C

Acacia complanata

Flat Stem Wattle 15 seeds җ
Acacia complanata  is an unusual ornamental Acacia, “Flat Stem Wattle”, growing quickly into a large shrub or small tree, 3ft-9ft tall if you have the space! However it is fairly unique among wattles to flower from Spring to Autumn, bearing an abundance of large, yellow balls which emit a rich perfume. Frost resistant but unlikely to survive below -5°C.

Acacia dealbata

Mimosa 15 seeds җ
Acacia Dealbata produces the classic florist cut flower and also hardy to about -7°C. There is a beautiful 20ft specimen probably 10/20 years old growing happily in a front garden near Thorpe Park.

Alyogyne huegelii

Blue Hibiscus 10 seeds 
Alyogyne huegelii  often called the ‘Blue Hibiscus’ (it’s a close relative to the hibiscus) heralds from dry southern regions of Australia. Excellent for summer bedding in a south facing English border. It is really a perennial shrub to 10ft or more and given the right conditions could be over wintered indoors, but try growing it as an annual. The 12cm flowers are a lovely lilac blue.

Anigozanthus flavidus red

Anigozanthus flavidus red ' Kangaroo Paw' Pkt
These unusual plants can be cultivated in a greenhouse that has a minimum winter temperature of 10°C or they can be grown outside in mild, dry climates. Anigozanthus flavidus red grows from 3 to 4 feet high and spread up to 18 inches across. They need an acid, sandy, well drained compost. They also make excellent unusual long lasting cut flowers for flower arranging enthusiasts!

Banksia ericifolia

'Heath-leaved Banksia' 10 seeds җ
Banksia ericifolia, historically important as it was the first specimen collected by Sir Joseph Banks at Botany Bay in 1770, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Banksias in Australia, with large 12” tall striking spikes of yellow to reddish-orange flowers contrasted with small, linear, light-green to greyish-green leaves. It will develop into a large 4 metre high bush given a sheltered sunny position in an acid well drained soil. Frost tolerant but only hardy to about -5°C

Billardiera cymosa

"Sweet Apple Berry" Pkt
Billardiera cymosa is a twining plant carrying lovely pale blue, jasmine-like, starry flowers in spring and summer followed by showy snow white berries. Superb in a conservatory or sheltered frost free garden.Growing to approximately 2ft in height without support but higher if trained on a frame or fence this evergreen plant will grow in light shade or full sun.

Callistemon glaucus

Albany Bottle Brush Pkt җ
Callistemon glaucus  is the most commonly grown bottle brush previously called Callistemon speciosus. A semi hardy shrub tolerant to perhaps -5°C with large scarlet flowers and slightly larger leaves than the hardier species. Excellent though as a conservatory plant tolerant of heat and dry atmospheres and easy from seed.

Callistemon linearis

Narrow Leaved Bottlebrush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon linearis  is a lovely shrub with thin evergreen leaves and in summer long cylindrical spikes of scarlet bottlebrush flowers. Good for milder coastal regions in the UK where it will thrive taking moderate frosts to -8C. Needs a sunny protected position with well drained soil. My father has one planted in his front garden near Wembley where it has flowered profusely for many years without any protection and proved reliably hardy.

Callistemon Mixed

Mixed Bottle Brush Pkt җ
A Callistemon mixture of all our Bottle Brush seeds, some frost tender and others hardy. Colours include Red, Violet, White, Pink and Green

Callistemon pallidus

Lemon Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon pallidus  - an upright hardy shrub with slender spreading branches growing to a height of 3 m by 2 m. The fresh lemon coloured brushes present a pleasing contrast to the grey-green foliage. This frost-hardy plant will grow in moist situations in full sun or part shade and will also withstand moderate exposure to salt laden winds.

Callistemon rigidus

Hardy Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
'Australian Bottle Brush' I have included here some of the best forms of hardy and semi hardy varieties. Callistemon Rigidus and Callistemon Salignus Rubra have slightly smaller flowers than some of the more tender species, but well worth growing for an unusual shrub with masses of brilliant bright red flowers about 3” long in early summer. The seed is small, not difficult to grow, with a flowering plant in the second year if sown early. Callistemon Salignus Rubra is a more weeping and smaller variety. Captain Cook is a weeping large flowered form of Callistemon Viminalis but also reasonably hardy for milder areas.

Callistemon viminalis "Captain Cook"


Dwarf Weeping Bottle Brush Pkt җ

Viminalis is a cultivated weeping form of Bottle Brush but also reasonably hardy for milder areas. The seed is small but not difficult to grow and you should have a flowering plant in the second year if sown early. Captain Cook only grows to 1.5m making an excellent pot plant for an unheated conservatory if not planted out..

Callistemon violaceus

Violet Bottle Brush Pkt җ
Callistemon violaceus  is a rather special bottle brush, semi hardy to -5°C, with large violet/purple blooms. The picture is from a shrub grown from seed by us and the front page of the Australian seed section contrasts this flower with the more common scarlet.

Callistemon viridiflorus

Green Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon viridiflorus  - a very hardy bottle brush from Tasmania down to perhaps -18°C! Lovely lime green bottle brush flowers in late spring. The plant will grow to about 2 metres with glossy willow like foliage and prefers a hot sunny position.

Clianthus puniceus

Lobster Claw 10 seeds 
Clianthus puniceus are unusual scrambling woody shrubs from down under related to the pea family. Frost tender but fairly tough for over wintering in a cold greenhouse or conservatory. It produces highly attractive lobster claw type scarlet flowers in clusters in late winter early spring.

Clianthus puniceus Albus

White Lobster Claw 10 seeds 
Clianthus puniceus albus is an unusual scrambling woody shrub  from down under related to the pea family. Frost tender but fairly tough for over wintering in a cold greenhouse or conservatory. This very rare variety produces highly attractive lobster claw, pure white flowers in clusters in late winter early spring.

Cyathea dealbata


Silver Tree Fern Pkt 

Cyathea dealbata, also known as the silver tree fern or silver fern is a species of medium-sized tree ferns, endemic and symbolic to New Zealand. It can grow to heights of 10 m or more with a dense crown of long (4m) fronds that have a silver-white colouration on the undersides. This distinctive silver colouration has made them useful for laying along tracks for night walking. Once established, it will tolerate drier conditions but it does best when sheltered from strong winds and frost in a well drained shady damp position. For the UK it needs to be kept pot grown (which will also contain its ultimate size) and brought under glass for winter.

Cyathea medullaris


Black Tree Fern Pkt 

This is the largest Tree Ferns which will succeed with cool greenhouse treatment but not hardy enough for overwintering outside unless in the mildest microclimate with no or limited frost. The trunk and stem is covered in an intensely black fur, contrasting strongly with the deep green, leathery fronds. Spores germinate freely making very showy young plants in a couple of seasons.

Dicksonia antarctica

Hardy Tree Fern (Pr Pkt) җ җ
Dicksonia antarctica  is one of the most beautiful species of plant to come from the southern hemisphere within the tree ferns. Alas our winter climate is a little harsh for most tree ferns unless a micro climate and suitable winter protection can be established. They are true ferns and hence need shade and high humidity as well as clement winter temperatures. The hardiest is Dicksonia Antartica capable of managing -5°C to -8°C without protection although the fronds will burn and die back at these lows. However if the crown is suitably protected in winter they can survive much lower temperatures and the 5' to 10' fronds in early summer are breathtaking. For those of you living in warm coastal waters or in a protected suburban environment where shade and humidity can be maintained in summer along with mild winter temperatures, these are essential for your tropical garden. They take years to grow and therefore becoming protected in the wild as pressure grows for more garden plants worldwide. You can grow them from spores and although it will take time to grow a tree fern which develops a trunk, the smaller plants are extremely attractive as large ferns.

Dicksonia fibrosa


Golden Tree Fern (Pr Pkt) җ

Dicksonia fibrosa is a smaller species of the Dicksonia genus from New Zealand and easy to grow but not quite as hardy as Dicksonia antartica maybe to -8c. Ideal for the smaller garden in a suburban micro climate in Southern Britain.

Diplolaena augustifolia


Yanchep Rose 10 seeds 

Diplolaena angustifolia (Yanchep Rose) is a small bushy shrub from Western Australia that grows to about 3 ft tall. It has narrow olive-green leaves with dense rusty hairs on the underside. In late winter through early spring appear the pendant 1 1/2" wide flowers that have a double row of short greenish cream-coloured petal-like bracts and large brushes of pale orange stamens. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to light shade with little irrigation. Not frost tolerant this unusual and showy plant can be used in containers in a cold frost free glasshouse.

Erythrina crista-galli

Common Coral Tree 10 seeds җ
I have grown Erythrina crista-galli  on and off for years but it really needs a hot sunny conservatory to do well. Long terminal spikes of typical pea family bright red flowers. Tall plant flowering at 6ft+ but dies back to ground level in cold climates, watch out for the wicked thorns on the stems though! Easy to raise from seed and fairly fast growing.

Fynbos Smoke Primer

Fynbos Smoke Papers (Pkt of 5)

Many seeds can benefit from soaking in smoke impregnated water solution to simulate seed growth after natural bush fires in countries like Australia and South Africa. In particula Anigozanthus, Strelitzia and Protea benefit from this treatment enhancing the likely germination % but research suggests many other recalcitrent species can also benefit like Palms and Musa seed.

Cape Super Smoke Plus is an absorbent paper that is impregnated with fynbos-smoke-saturated water. The paper is then dried and sealed in a polythene packet. When dormant seeds require "smoking", a predetermined volume of water is added to the paper in a suitable container and the seeds are "smoke-primed" by soaking in the smoke-water solution for 24 hours. In order to have the maximum effect in breaking seed dormancy, a range of natural germination stimulators has been added to the smoke solution to overcome other forms of seed dormancy found in many species.

Each standard packet contains five papers, and 50ml water should be added to each paper. Each packet is thus sufficient to make up 250ml solution ( approx. 8½ oz. ) and enough to treat approximately 500 large seeds.