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Darwinia Care – Learn About Darwinia Growing Conditions

Darwinia Care – Learn About Darwinia Growing Conditions


By: Teo Spengler

When someone talks about growing Darwinia plants, your first reaction may be: “What is a Darwinia plant?”. Plants of the genus Darwinia are native to Australia and very drought-tolerant after establishment. Some 20 to 37 different species exist, but few are well known or cultivated very much in the United States. That being said, as gardeners look for water-wise flowering plants for the backyard, more and more are turning to Darwinia plants.

What is a Darwinia Plant?

Darwinia plants are evergreen, somewhat scrubby bushes that are only found in the wild in Western Australia. Two types exist, distinguishable by the Darwinia flowers. One group offers spectacular, bell-shaped flowers while the other grows smaller flowers and is known as the rose-type Darwinia.

Popular Darwinia hookeriana shrubs grow to about three feet (1 m.) tall with small, terminal flowers surrounded by brilliant red bracts that make the plant attractive. Bracts can appear six months before the flowers in generous numbers. You might find 250 bracts on a single plant!

Darwinia flowers are wonderful for cutting and look great in an indoor bouquet. They also dry nicely. Just cut the Darwinia flowers and hang them in a cool, dark area to dry.

Darwinia Growing Conditions

If you are interested in growing Darwinia, you’ll be happy to hear that Darwinia care is not difficult. Since these perennial shrubs are native to the southernmost regions of Australia, zones 9 and higher would be suitable for growing them here in the U.S., though with adequate protection, Darwinia should be fine in zones 8-8b as well.

Plant Darwinia in an open, airy location. In order for these plants to thrive, Darwinia growing conditions must include cool soil for their roots to grow in. Use an ample layer of mulch to keep the root zone cool.

Darwinia care includes generous irrigation through the first summer after planting. After that, stop offering water. Many gardeners forget that Darwinia growing conditions must be on the dry side and kill the plants by overwatering. Darwinia flowers won’t be happy in damp, dank conditions. If you are growing Darwinia in soil that is too wet, the plants can die or suffer from powdery mildew.

Darwinias can get scrubby, so Darwinia care should also include an annual pruning. Trimming Darwinias every year helps keep them compact and nicely shaped. Prune just after flowering, in late spring or early summer. An additional advantage is that, with reduced foliage, the plants require less water.

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Darwinia

Darwinia

Darwinias were once considered to be very temperamental plants that were likely to drop dead, but they are now available grafted onto a hardy understock and are much easier to grow. Don looked at Darwinia lejostyla, an Australian native shrub to 1m (3′) which comes from the Stirling Range and Middle Mount Barren. A widely available cultivar is ‘Coolamon Pink’. It has lovely pink bell-shaped flowers which are larger than the normal flower forms, and an exceptionally long flowering season. The foliage is bright green and compact. The species name lejostyla means smooth style. This darwinia was previously known as D. leiostyla.

Darwinias like a position in full sun to semi-shade, with good drainage and a cool root run. Good air circulation around the plant is also important, as still, shady and moist areas may encourage grey mould. They do well in pots, look great in cottage style gardens, and the flowers can be dried and used for arrangements. They grow in most areas of Australia except for the hot tropics, and are sold at specialist native plant nurseries.

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Landscaping Uses

Grown for the showy flowers, suited to native gardens as well as container growing.

Varieties / Cultivars

  • Darwinia macrostegia – Brilliant flowers red and white striped and the plant is often called the ‘Mondurup Bell’. Weeping shrub to around 1m.
  • Darwinia meeboldii – Also known as the ‘Cranbrook Bell’, white and red flowers, bell shaped on a bushy shrup to 3m in height.
  • Darwinia purpurea – Deep red to purple flowers, usually more red. Low growing spreading shrub to 1m.
  • Darwinia oxylepis – Attractive red flowers, on a bushy shrub to 1.5m in height.
  • Darwinia citriodora – Known as the Lemon Scented Darwinia, for the fragrant foliage. Small rosey red flowers. Both upright and prostrate forms are available.
  • Darwinia carnea – From Western Australia with very attractive green bell shaped flowers flushed with red, some cultivars have bright red flowers

Available from the following Wholesale Nurseries

CARAWAH NURSERY
15 Falls Road Hoddles Creek Victoria 3139
phone: 59674244 fax: 59674239
Wholesale propagators specialising in Australian Native Tubestock. Our list comprises of hard to grow and pictorial lines. Monthly & Annual Forward Order catalogue. Accredited to all States.


Darwinia

These Australian natives were once considered to be very temperamental plants. Today they are much easier to grow as they have been grafted to the hardier understock, Darwinia citriodora.

Plant details

Botanical name: Darwinia lejostyla hybrid ‘Coolamon Pink’
Common name: Darwinia

Description:

This darwinia is a medium sized, vigorously growing native shrub to 1m (3’3") from the Stirling Range and Middle Mount Barren. It has bright lolly-pink bell-shaped flowers which are larger than the normal flower forms and have an exceptionally long flowering season. The foliage is bright green and compact.The species name lejostyla means smooth style. This darwinia was previously known as D. leiostyla.

Likes:

  • full sun to semi-shade
  • good air circulation
  • good drainage
  • cool roots

Dislikes:

Tip: when potting up grafted plants be sure to replant them to the right soil height. Level the soil off and give the pot a gentle tap on a tabletop to settle it.

Climate:

Should grow all over Australia as far up as Brisbane. Doesn’t like tropical climates.

Availability:

Plants of Darwinia lejostyla hybrid ‘Coolamon Pink’ are priced between $13-15 for a 150mm (6") pot. These are grafted by Bushgraft in Victoria but may be available from your local native specialist or contact:

Kuranga Native Nursery
393 Maroondah Highway
Ringwood VIC 3134
Phone: (03) 9879 4076 Fax: (03) 9870 7301

Did you know?

Darwinias are not named after botanist Charles Darwin, but after his grandfather, Dr Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), who was a physician, poet and man of science.


What Is A Darwinia Plant: Tips On Growing Darwinia Flowers - garden

Origin of Scientific Name

Darwinia – named in honour of Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin by Edward Rudge in 1816.

oxylepis – (Greek) oxys – sharp, and lepis – a scale, referring to the flower bracts.

Description

Darwinias are a beautiful genus and Darwinia oxylepis is certainly no exception. Within the small group of Darwinias collectively known as 'Mountain Bells', Gillam’s Bell is confined to the rocky gullies near the lower slopes of mountains in the Stirling Range National Park amongst mallee heathland.

Darwinia oxylepis is a small shrub reaching to approximately one metre in height with erect branches and short branchlets. Its small narrow leaves are almost cylindrical in cross-section, initially erect and then often spreading to curve backwards when mature.

From August to November, prominent bell-shaped flowers appear at the ends of branches. However, the 'flower' is really a cluster of small flowers enclosed within large hanging flower bracts (modified leaves) up to 30 mm long. The bracts are mainly deep red, but the uppermost bracts are greenish.

Unfortunately, this little gem is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 due to its restricted area of occupancy, small population sizes and impacts from disease, tourist activities and fire. It is sometimes available for sale in specialist nurseries though and makes a decorative container plant.

Horticultural tips

  • Not common in cultivation.
  • Propagates easily from cuttings and even better from grafting onto Darwinia citriodora .
  • Best grown in a container if the plant is not grafted.
  • Suits most soil types but requires well-drained soil.
  • Benefits from some protection from direct summer sun.

For more horticultural tips view our Plant Notes section.

View in Kings Park

Visit Kings Park and Botanic Garden to see Darwinia oxylepis growing within the Conservation Garden in the Western Australian Botanic Garden.

Want more information?

Refer to the profile for this plant on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' FloraBase online herbarium.

Grow your own


What Is A Darwinia Plant: Tips On Growing Darwinia Flowers - garden

Origin of Scientific Name

Darwinia – named in honour of Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin by Edward Rudge in 1816.

oxylepis – (Greek) oxys – sharp, and lepis – a scale, referring to the flower bracts.

Description

Darwinias are a beautiful genus and Darwinia oxylepis is certainly no exception. Within the small group of Darwinias collectively known as 'Mountain Bells', Gillam’s Bell is confined to the rocky gullies near the lower slopes of mountains in the Stirling Range National Park amongst mallee heathland.

Darwinia oxylepis is a small shrub reaching to approximately one metre in height with erect branches and short branchlets. Its small narrow leaves are almost cylindrical in cross-section, initially erect and then often spreading to curve backwards when mature.

From August to November, prominent bell-shaped flowers appear at the ends of branches. However, the 'flower' is really a cluster of small flowers enclosed within large hanging flower bracts (modified leaves) up to 30 mm long. The bracts are mainly deep red, but the uppermost bracts are greenish.

Unfortunately, this little gem is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 due to its restricted area of occupancy, small population sizes and impacts from disease, tourist activities and fire. It is sometimes available for sale in specialist nurseries though and makes a decorative container plant.

Horticultural tips

  • Not common in cultivation.
  • Propagates easily from cuttings and even better from grafting onto Darwinia citriodora .
  • Best grown in a container if the plant is not grafted.
  • Suits most soil types but requires well-drained soil.
  • Benefits from some protection from direct summer sun.

For more horticultural tips view our Plant Notes section.

View in Kings Park

Visit Kings Park and Botanic Garden to see Darwinia oxylepis growing within the Conservation Garden in the Western Australian Botanic Garden.

Want more information?

Refer to the profile for this plant on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' FloraBase online herbarium.

Welcome to Kings Park


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