Australia is home to over 350 species of Grevilleas, with just a handful native to Asian and Pacific islands. There are many hundreds more varieties so there is a Grevillea to suit almost any garden.
With so many varieties it is not surprising that they are very diverse in their growth habits, flower styles, colour, and foliage. They can be used as as hedge plants, feature shrubs or trees, as ground cover and even weeping standards.
Depending on the variety, the flowers have been described as “spiders” and “toothbrushes” but a close look reveals they are neither. The intricate and complex structure that is called the flower, is a work of art and not something that mankind can emulate; and they are certainly far more beautiful than any spider.
The colour range and combinations is quite enormous, from bright reds, oranges, and yellows to hues of pink, mauve and cream. Grevillea “Bonnie Prince Charlie” is bejeweled with ‘spiders’ of bright red and yellow, while Grevillea “Peaches and Cream”, combines salmon and soft yellow in a whispery floral ‘toothbrush’. Some varieties will flower throughout the year, but they are mainly enjoyed through winter when their bright flowers are conspicuous in the absence of others.
Grevillea flowers all contain nectar so are perfect to grow in a wildlife garden, attracting both bees and birds. Tui, bellbirds and wax eyes love the larger ‘toothbrush’ flowers, and honeybees will happily attend to the smaller ‘spider’ flowers.
Grevilleas are very easy to grow and are ideal in a dry "water wise" garden. All Grevilleas love full sun and because they don't like wet feet they will adore a sloping or raised garden bed. Dry conditions and long periods without rain will not trouble them.
To plant, choose a place in the garden that gets full to partial sun, and where the soil is free draining. Dig a planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball, and only mix in compost if the soil is poor quality or sandy. Like their Proteaceae cousins, Grevilleas do not require much in the way of fertiliser and dislike phosphates. Feed only annually with a controlled release fertiliser low in Phosphorous. Water in well at the time of planting but once established, additional water will only be required in very dry periods.
Regular pruning of Grevilleas is recommended to maintain bushiness and encourage additional flowering. Prune after the main flowering period, which can be tricky with the varieties that have a long flowering time. It is worth the sacrifice of a few flowers for another main flowering display. Remove any dead or non-productive wood back to a main branch or the trunk as required.
Grevillea Bronze Rambler
Grevillea Drummer Boy
Grevillea Bonnie Prince Charlie
Grevillea Poorinda Peter
Grevillea Scarlet Sprite
Grevillea Robin Hood
Grevillea robusta 'Silky Oak'