Grevillea, How to grow.

The Genus Grevillea is one of the most widespread over the continent of Australia. Its distribution ranges from the tropics of northern Australia to the temperate areas of Tasmania, from the deserts of central Australia to the alpine areas of the Australian Great Dividing Range. Different species have adapted to different climatic areas so to answer the question “how do you grow a Grevillea” might not be as straight forward as you might think.

But then again maybe not!

Grevillea is made up of over 300 species and subspecies as well as hybrids that number into the hundreds. Not all of these are in cultivation and most are not readily available in nurseries, but I think it would be safe to say that if you look hard enough you can probably find at least one or two that will suit the conditions in your garden, will be very easy to grow, flower for an extended period and require little or no maintenance.

So here’s what you need to know in a nut shell.

1. Never fertilize your Grevillea. Grevilleas are a member of the Proteaceae family of plants and have evolved a very sophisticated root system that is very efficient at finding the nutrients it needs in very impoverished soils that are low in phosphorus. High phosphorus fertilizers will kill your Grevillea. In fact I don’t recommended fertilizing your Grevilleas at all, even if it’s low phosphorus and designed for natives. The only exception being if you were growing your Grevilleas in pots or containers or if you had a problem with phosphorus in your soil as I do. Therefore to summarise, don’t fertilize them and don’t plant them near plants (or lawns) that you do fertilize.

2. Don’t plant them in an area where the water tends to sit or doesn’t drain away. Plant them either on a slope, in a raised garden bed or in reasonably well draining soil. Most Grevilleas don’t like too much water around their roots. Of course though there are exceptions. I’ll list some of these shortly.

3. Don’t cultivate around their roots. Grevilleas have lots of surface roots and if you do, you will probably damage the roots and maybe kill the plant. If you do this by accident just water the affected area with a solution of Seasol. This may help.

4. Plant the right type of Grevillea for your climate and soil conditions.

5. Most Grevilleas are very drought tolerant so water for the first summer to establish then only when they really, really need it after that. Therefore don’t plant them near plants that need lots of water to survive.

6. Prune your Grevillea after flowering. Now pruning isn’t essential but you will find that most Grevilleas respond very well to pruning and if you do prune your plant it will look a lot neater and tidier, flower more profusely next year and will probably live a lot longer.

Grevilleas tolerant of poorly drained soil. There are many grevilleas that will tolerate poor drainage. Most are lesser known and not readily available at nurseries, the exception being Grevillea Robusta aka the Silky Oak. This Grevillea grows into a large tree but the great thing about it is that is can be used as the rootstock to graft lots of other more difficult species and hybrids, therefore making these Grevilleas a lot more adaptable. So if you have a space where the water doesn’t drain away very well, then a grafted grevillea could be a good option. Some examples that I’ve grown with this rootstock are Grevillea “Billy Bonkers”, “Pink Ice” and “Lollypop”, but there are many, many more. Just finally, I have found that Grevillea Robusta does appear to have some tolerance of phosphorus in the soil.

Grevilleas that are easy to grow. These grevilleas are adaptable to a variety of soils, climates and are reasonably easy to source. There are so many to choose from. Here are just a few that are common or easy to find in nurseries.

Grevillea Robyn Gordon, Superb, Ned Kelly, Peaches and Cream, Coconut Ice, Strawberry Sundae (all Grevillea Banksii x bipinnatifida hybrids).
Grevillea Juniperina
Grevillea Lanigera
Grevillea Long John
Grevillea Rhyolitica, Deua Flame.
Grevillea Sea Spray
Grevillea Speciosa
Grevillea Rosmarinifolia
Grevillea Thelemanniana

Grevilleas for tropical areas. This could be a case of where do you start here. There are so many spectacular Grevillea hybrids that come from the tropics. Most of these Grevilleas won’t tolerate frost but I have found that Grevillea Moonlight seems to be the most tolerant of cold conditions. Here’s just a few.

Grevillea Formosa
Grevillea Honey Gem
Grevillea Misty Pink
Grevillea Moonlight
Grevillea Sylvia
And the list goes on and on

Grevilleas for arid/desert areas. Most of these are more suited to well drained sandy/gravelly soils. They are very drought tolerant and some have some very spectacular flowers. Most aren’t readily available in most nurseries though, but can be found in specialist nurseries. The other great thing is that most can be grafted onto more reliable rootstocks, so these grafted grevilleas do make them much more adaptable.

Grevillea Eriostachya
Grevillea Excelsior
Grevillea Juncifolia
Grevillea Petrophiloides

Grevilleas tolerant of frost. The news here is that most Grevilleas will tolerate at least some frost, especially since many desert areas have temperatures that drop below freezing at night during the winter. Most of the tropical grevilleas are the exception here but if you get light frost once or twice a year they may still be worth trying. As plants get more established their frost tolerance does increase and Seasol is also meant to help with a plants frost tolerance.

Grevillea Eriostachya
Grevillea Excelsior
Grevillea Juncifolia
Grevillea Juniperina
Grevillea Lanigera
Grevillea Petrophiloides
Grevillea Rosmarinifolia
Grevillea Speciosa
Grevillea Thelemanniana

So just as the size, colour and shape of the Grevilleas leaves and flowers varies so does the range of climatic and soil conditions. There are grevilleas that suit any gardener’s tastes and Grevilleas that will suit any garden or position in the garden you wish to plant them.

The important thing to remember when you’re selecting a grevillea at your nursery is that just because it’s in your nursery doesn’t mean that it will grow in your area or in your soil. Ask the nursery person first otherwise just take the risk, give it a go and you may actually discover that the grevillea that isn’t meant to grow in your area or in your soil actually does. That’s what I often do. You may make a new discovery and learn something new.

Anyway next time you’re at your plant nursery give a Grevillea a try, follow the 6 tips I’ve listed above and let me know what you think.

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95 Responses to Grevillea, How to grow.

  • sue says:

    I love the flowers and the way you show them! gardening is one of my biggest passions

  • leighton says:

    I want to plant a fence line with the Grevillea Rosmarinifolia as I believe they are hardy and also have spiky leaves which will provide a barrier from unwanted people climbing the fence. I will require about 100 plants and would like to know the best place to get them We are in the central west of NSW Thanks

  • Rebel Gardener says:

    Hi Leighton, great question. I’ve decided to write an article about Grevillea Rosmarinifolia to address your question.

  • dorothy says:

    We have planted a number of Grevillea Lady O in a triangular garden bed which is surrounded on two sides by cement path/driveway and the third the brick house. They have been in about 18 months looking wonderful but now some are dropping their leaves. Problem? Solution?

  • Rebel Gardener says:

    Grevilleas don’t like fertiliser and most don’t like too much water with inadequate drainage. Sounds like you may have a problem with drainage if your garden bed is surrounded by concrete. Have a dig in the soil to see if it is boggy.

  • teresa says:

    I have a long john which I love.I’m not sure how to prune it.It seems when I trim it it doesn’t bush out but stops growing on the trimmed branch.Any suggestions as I’d like to form it a bit more into a tree-life form but don’t want to cut it needlessly and not have it grow in those parts.

  • Rebel Gardener says:

    Long John is one of my favorite Grevilleas. It grows fairly quickly and flowers prolifically. There may be a limit though on how hard you can prune it. I’d suggest not to prune it below the previous 12 months growth. If you’ve already tried and had no success then you’ve probably already got your answer. This grevillea is one that’s best tip pruned when young and then shaped each year after flowering. Have you maybe thought of pruning it into a standard? You could then underplant something else (or more long johns) to hide the bare trunk if it wasn’t to your liking.

  • Rebel Gardener says:

    I grew Long John once and it grew very quickly into a dense rounded bush of about 2.5m. One day the whole bush got blown over by the wind. What I discovered was the organic mulch was piled up around the trunk causing it to go rotten. The trunk was clear of the mulch when small but then grew out to meet it and disappeared below the branches and foliage. This is one reason why I’m not a big fan of organic mulch.
    http://www.gardeningnativeplants.com/mulch/

  • Ballarat gardener says:

    I’ve had no luck with grevilleas at all. The only ones that have flowered are arenaria & jephcottii. Even Moonlight just won’t grow or flower. The others that have died or refused to flower include Rosmarinifolia lutea, “Pink Ladies” and “Flora Mason” as well as the larger flowering types such as Misty Pink. I have no trouble growing lots of varieties of correa, leptospermum, banksias, hakeas, dryandras and eucalypt. If por drainage is the problem should I just give up on grevilleas?

  • Rebel Gardener says:

    If you’re not having any trouble growing Dryandras then I wouldn’t think that poor drainage would be the problem. But it still wouldn’t hurt to check. Bad drainage can be solved by using varieties grafted onto Grevillea Robusta rootstock.
    You may find the winters in Ballarat too cold for most “tropical” Grevilleas such as G Misty Pink and G Moonlight. The best tropical Grevillea for winter cold areas that I’ve tried is Grevillea Caloundra Gem, otherwise is you like the large flowering Grevilleas you might like to try
    Grevillea Ned Kelly or one of the other similar hybrids like G Robyn Gordon, G Peaches and Cream. Just make sure they don’t get too much frost.
    You may also want to check your soil PH. It may be alkaline?

  • Steve says:

    What is the expected lifespan of most grevilleas, especially Moonlight?

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Hi Steve good question.
      Grevilleas can live for many years but in some circles they do suffer from a reputation of being short lived. This is because in some garden circumstances home gardeners are under the misconception that “natives” shouldn’t be pruned and are tempremental and as such they grow quickly (if the condtions are ideal) and in some cases grow lanky and untidy. Because of this the home gardener thinks they’ve run there race so they pull just pull them out and replace them. Hence the reputation. This is a shame because all they really needed to do (in most cases) was prune them back into shape.
      Most Grevilleas (and especially Moonlight) respond very well to an annual prune and as such can form a very attractive shrub that will flower for an extended period and live for many years. I know of a Grevillea Moonlight that’s growing in the front garden of a house near Melbourne, that I travel past from time to time. It’s growing against the front wall of the house and faces west. I’ve traveled past there for about 15 years and can only remember it being fully grown so it’s at least that age. It is about 3-4m tall and about 2-3m wide. It gets pruned from time to time and when in flower it looks spectacular.
      I recommend Moonlight as a garden plant but it doesn’t like an open frostly area. I’ve heard that in some cases they will tolerate frost but it’s not ideal. If you live in a frost prone area, against a north or west facing brick wall might be the best option.
      Although I did see an episode of Burkes Backyard once where Don was standing in the front garden of a house in Bowral (a frost prone area I believe) next to a mature Moonlight and was amazed by the fact it was growing there.
      Just in finishing gardeners that grow Aust Natives and replace them when they get, what they perceive to be old, are doing themselves a disservice. Quite often a good prune is all that’s needed to tranform them into a new plant.
      I had a neighbour once that used to cut his 3,4,5 m tall Callistemons and Melaleucas back to bare stumps about 1-2m tall and then just sit back and watch them regrow. Of course you can’t do this to just any plant but there are a hell of a lot that you can do this to.
      The advice I’d give to any gardener contemplating removing any plant just because it’s old is prune it first and give it a chance to the it regenerate.

  • Linde says:

    I have Grevillea Peaches & Cream growing in a large ceramic urn here in Geelong Victoria. It was flowering when I bought it 2 years ago, but hasn’t flowered since.
    I don’t fertilize it and we don’t get much frost, but I am geographically close to the Ballarat gardener and like him, I also can’t work out what is wrong. Any suggestions?

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Hi Linde I don’t normally recommend fertilizing most Australian Natives and in particular plants from the Proteaceae family, of which Grevilleas are a member. There is one exception though and that is when they are grown in pots. I will then give them a low phosphorus native fertilizer. This may cure your problem. Another point that many forget about planting plants in pots is in most cases it is best to only increase the size of the pot by one or two sizes when repotting. If the jump in pot size is too great you will find that most of the potting mix won’t have any roots in it for some time and it may become over saturated with water leading to root rot and other problems. If you were starting from scratch I would say replant it a plastic pot that is 1 or 2 sizes larger than the size rootball it has and then place it inside the urn. Seeing it’s been there for 2 years it might be best if you get some good quality Aust native potting mix and repot it into an appropriate sized plastic pot and then place it back inside the urn. Before you do though give it a really good watering first and then leave it for a few hours for the water to drain away. Then when you take it out of the urn check the water content in the potting mix. It should be damp but large areas of it shouldn’t be saturated or still holding excess water. One of the problems with clay, ceramic and most other decorative pots is they have a small drainage hole in the bottom that at it’s best is inadequate and at it’s worst will block easily with roots. At the end of the day though I try not to plant these shrubby types of plants in pots as number 1 they will usually to better in the ground and number 2 they do become dependent on you watering them over summer to keep them alive. I like to plant succulents such as Agaves, Euphorbias, Cactus etc in pots as you can go away for a few days over summer and know when you come home they won’t have dropped dead because it was hot and you weren’t there to water them.

  • Linde says:

    Thanks Rebel Gardener,
    I really appreciate your help.
    That’s great, thanks!

  • debra evershed says:

    i had my garden landscaped and among the plants was two grevillia trees.. they survived in summer, planted in december but i noticed in the last couple of months that they have had no leaves and just somelittle balls on top. what can i do to save them?

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      There could be a variety of reasons for this problem. If they are grevillea trees they could be Grevillea Robusta which is semi deciduous. If they are they should recover in spring. If not I’d check the drainage and make sure the soil isn’t sodden.

  • debra evershed says:

    i have once put some dynamic lifter on my soil where my young grevillia plants are.. this was after they had lost their leaves..they were planted in january and now in august i think it was in may that i noticed that they had no leaves.. what can i do to save them?

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      The phosporus in the dynamic lifter may have caused this. Try feeding them with a high nitrogen/low phosphorus fertilizer such as Powerfeed. This may help.

  • Pam says:

    Can you please give me clear instructions for tip pruning grevilleas. I want them to bush up and not not get straggly.

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Hi Pam. The first thing to understand about Grevilleas is there are so many different types and as such they have varying growth habits. Some Grevilleas can be pruned quite hard, back to bare wood and in some instances you can even coppice them and they will grow back. Having said that though you can’t do this to all of them. Therefore knowing the type of Grevillea is important. So in your case if you don’t prune below last years growth you should be ok. If you live in an area where you get frost then I’d wait till the frost season is over otherwise if you don’t get frost and they are starting to put on new growth then you could probably do it now seeing we are nearly in Spring.
      One way to discover how hard you can prune your Grevillea is to prune a branch at the rear of the plant that is out of view well back below the green growth and then wait to see if it regrows. How it responds will indicate how hard you can prune it. Harsh pruning can be a good option for an old unruley plant that you may be considering replacing. I’ve rejuvenated many old tired looking natives this way and it’s a lot easier that replacing them and then waiting for the new plant to grow. Quite often you can reinvent a plant this way but be careful as sometimes it’s best to just prune part of it……….then wait…….and then do the rest after it’s responded to the first prune.
      The most important point about pruning Grevilleas though is that you do prune them. I don’t know of many that won’t respond well to at least a tip prune and as such they will look a lot neater and flower a lot more. All the best, hope this helps.

  • Vivien says:

    Several years ago I planted 5 Grevillea Lady O in a row about 4 metres apart in similar soil in a garden bed behind a brick retaining wall (elevated about 1 metre). Half the plants are doing really well (continuously flowering with dark green leaves) but the other half I have lost over time and have had to replace with new plants. What seems to happen is that they start off well but the leaves eventually start turning a more lime green colour and then the plant starts to die off. I have seen small cocoon like nests of eggs on these particular plants (but not noticed any bugs at all). Is this the cause? Can I spray the plants with something to save them?

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Pests normally attack plants that are unwell. I’d check the drainage. Retaining walls are a great way to raise a garden bed for better drainage but the water still needs somewhere to escape to. Make sure your retaining isn’t acting like a dam wall and holding lots of water in after consistent rainfall.
      The pests and soil may be the problem but not all your plants are effected. It may pay to put a cocoon in a plastic zip lock bag and take it to your nursery for identification but I definitely check the drainage.

  • Danielle says:

    Hi, I’m looking at planting some natives along my fenceline, I live in Naracoorte, South Australia, have dry very sandy soil and neighbors trees that hang over head providing light shade and possibly root competition. What grevilleas and other natives can you recommend? I want it to be low maintenance and drought hardy.
    E’mail me if you can,
    Thankyou, Danielle.

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Hi Danielle You have so many options it’s not funny. You need to consider how high and wide you want them to grow. When it comes to hedges though I’d always recommend as hardy a plant as I can find because whenever you plant a hedge you always run the risk of one or two plants dying. Therefore a bottle brush is always a good bet. Maybe try a “Kings Park Special”. It originally comes from WA so it should be suited to your soil/sand.

  • Andrew St Clair says:

    Hi,
    I have just bought a grevillea gracillus alba and a grevillea juniperina. I live in Spain in an area that is hot and dry in summer but has night frosts in winter. Are these two both drought and frost resistant? If they are not I will keep them in pots on a balcony in Barcelona where there are virtually no frosts, and the summer heat is less intense but perhaps they will not like the salty sea air. By the way we have a couple of bottlebrushes (citrinus) in the hot, dry, frosty (!) place which are doing well if that’s any pointer.Thank for your help,
    Andrew

    • Rebel Gardener says:

      Hi Andrew Not sure about the first one but Juniperina will be ok. You can always try planting the alba in a sheltered area near taller plants if you’re unsure.

  • Laurence says:

    Good day,
    Can you help?
    Last year I purchased a Grevillea lanigera Mount Tamboritha, and planted it in my garden in England, and it’s doing fine. I like it so much I would like to propagate a few plants from it but don’t know the best method can you advise please?

    Laurence

    • admin says:

      Hi Laurence, the best method is by cuttings. You can try my method http://www.drought-tolerant-plants.com/propagating-plants/ although I have never had a lot of success with Grevilleas with this method as they can sometimes take a while to form roots. You might need to use a greenhouse to keep the cuttings moist or make a small greenhouse out of a styro foam box with a plastic cover kept in the shade.

  • clarice da silva says:

    we live in toowoomba, queensland.
    we are wanting to cover a large sloping area with ground covering grevilleas, which attract birds, are drought resistant, frost resistant and grow very fast with a large area of coverage.
    From reading above, just realized that they do not do well in areas with a phospherous content. we have just started preparing the area by putting garden mix soil on it and we plan to put lucerne over that. are we doing the right things?
    also it is quite difficult to find a nursery which has a large amount of one species.we are looking for about 40 to 50 plants for that one area. many thanks.

    • admin says:

      Most Australian Natives don’t need the nutrient content of the soil enriched. If you are going to do anything to the soil it should be to improve drainage, if required. If you are on a slope though, drainage shouldn’t be a problem.
      One thing I have discovered is if your soil is heavy, compacted or clay based it can pay to cultivate the soil and maybe mix in some compost to loosen it up. This will assist with root growth which in turn will help your plants to become established quicker and their growth rates should increase as well. The problem with some composts though is that they often contain fertilisers that contain phosphorus which should be avoided. As an alternative you might like to try adding a sandy loam mix or maybe some well rotted eucalyptus compost if you can get it. Don Burke added crushed limestone waste from a building excavation to his garden and had fantastic results.
      One thing if you ask the guy at the garden centre if his compost contains phosphorus fertiliser and he says no, then I wouldn’t believe his because that’s what mine told me and he was wrong.
      As far as sourcing plants goes, you will most probably need to shop around because what’s available in one location will be different in another.
      Other plants that you could try that wouldn’t be affected by phosphorus are Callistemon (bottlebrush) ground covers, Eremophilas and Myoprum.
      Best of Luck

  • Kerry says:

    Could you please tell me if my ten year old ground cover gravillea will survive if i prune it back to it’s crown? Thank you for your informative web sight, I have found it very helpful.

    • admin says:

      Different Grevilleas respond differently to pruning. The best thing to do is to prune a small section back below the green growth and see how it responds. If it forms new growth you can then do the same to the rest of the plant. Otherwise I’d take the conservative line and prune it back so there is still plenty of green growth from which it can regrow from.

  • Rosina Capewell says:

    I have just purchases a Grevillea Blood Orange grows about 3mtrs high I had olanned on a spot but find it is a little wet and will not get full sun till summer should I go ahead and plant
    kind regards
    Rosina

    • admin says:

      This Grevilea will always do better in full sun but should still do ok in the shade especially if it’s only for some of the year. When you say the ground is wet, does the water drain away or does it just sit? You see a badly drained soil is what you need to avoid. One where the water just sits for some time and doesn’t drain away. This applies equally to water both on top of the ground and in the soil. You need to avoid planting it in a boggy, badly drained soil.

  • Daniel Hill says:

    I have two new grevillea plants one is a robyn gordon and the other is a honey gem they are both in fall sun and i have had them for about two months. I would like to know how many times i should be watering them every week? I would also like to know why the new leaves on my robyn don’t develop and die and fall off?

    • admin says:

      How often you water a plant depends on things such as time of the year and type of soil. Until the plant is established it is best to keep the root area moist. Also make sure you water around the plant as well to encourage the roots to search for water. Your leaf problem may be caused by over watering, a soil high in phosphorus (from fertilisers) or maybe a pest?

  • Tim says:

    I was in Ibiza, a Spanish island in the mediteranean sea recently and noticed Grevilleas in their public gardens alongside a coastal walk. Shame i didnt have my camera.
    Made me feel a little proud and homesick for Oz.

  • Gerry Proudman says:

    I live in Toowoomba and its in a VERY windy area. The soil is a heavy red soil and its reasonably well drained. I would like to plant a Honey Gem but my wife thinks its too windy, what do you think

    • admin says:

      Really Gerry, you’re asking me to disagree with your wife?????? Seriously though, if you think it’s too windy for a Honey Gem then you’ve probably ruled out a whole lot of other plants as well. You can always try it out and keep it compact with by pruning it. Otherwise look at some plants that are suited to coastal conditions.

  • Ros says:

    My dad is having trouble establishing a couple of Grevlleas under a Golden trumpet tree. I had a little dig around the plants and found a lot of surface roots, presumably from the tree. He lives in Redcliffe (nr Bris) with sandy soil to which he’s added a lot of organic matter, native fertiliser and thickly mulched. I suggested he water the plants deeply (drip irrigate) and stick to seasol to get the roots to go down deeper and escape those of the tree. What do you think?

    • admin says:

      It’s probably not the ideal place as the Grevileas will always compete for water. Seasol is good and some Multicrop plant starter might help as well. When you water the Grevilleas water away from them so the roots have to grow toward the water rather than have the trumpet tree roots grow toward the Grevilleas. Best of luck.

  • Katrina says:

    Grevillea Rosmarinifolia

    I have a cluster of 3 grevillea rosmarinifolia plants which are looking rather unhealthy all of a sudden. A week or so before Christmas I spread some of the native fertiliser ‘beads’ around my front garden which is 99% natives, all of which have been growing beautifully for the past 3 years. Now the g. rosmarinifolias leaves are browning & they have black specks all over them. Is this due to the fertiliser? My row of grevillea orange marmalade trees have not been affected in the same way. Could it be a fungus? Can I do anything to save them – one in particular looks are tough it is going to die. Any advice would be appreciated!

    • admin says:

      Different Grevilleas have a different tolerance to Phosphorus. Some are really sensitive while others are more tolerant. I never fertilse my natives when planted in the ground as I feel they don’t need it. I only ever do it if they are in pots. One trick I’ve learned to counter phosphorus toxicity to fertilise the affected plant with a high nitrogen fertiliser. I’ve used Powerfeed in the past. Is you think it is fungus, it would be best to take a sample to a garden centre and get the opinion of a qualified horticulturist.

  • Mary Morrison says:

    I planted two Grevilleas (Splendid) at opposite ends of the back garden. One is flowering profusely the other is growing like mad but has no flowers. Any suggestions?

    • admin says:

      I’m guessing they were both grown from cuttings? If so all things being equal they should flower at the same time. Therefore the conditions are definitely playing a part. Maybe there is a bit of fertiliser in the soil for one or maybe one gets more sun or water?

  • wendy crawford says:

    I have a Grevillea (Honey Gem) approx.4years old which until last month appeared healthy and flowered normally. Within the last 2-3 weeks the tree no longer flowers and the leaves have turned brown and are now dropping. The effect is that one half of the tree looks ok and the other half looks as though it is dying. The leaves have never dropped to this extent before nor turned brown. Can you advise whether the tree is needing fertiliser or does it sound as if it is dying.Would it help if I pruned the tree quite heavily?

    • admin says:

      Fetiliser would not be a good option. In fact it sounds like the problem might have been caused by fertiliser. Maybe the roots have just grown out to an area that was fertilised in the past? One way to counter phosphorus toxicity is too fertilise with a high nitrogen fertiliser but only if that’s the problem. It may be getting too much water??? Is the soil boggy. Have you had a lot of rain lately?

  • Julia says:

    Hi
    I have a one year old Molly in a pot. She has outgrown it very badly. Her roots are coming out the bottom. I have a slightly bigger pot to put her in. Should I wait till her current flowers bloom, prune before re planting?
    How can I get her out without damaging the roots?
    Thank you

    • admin says:

      One way is to break the pot. I always root prune when I repot anyway. I soak the roots in seasol then root prune to remove. Then tidy up long roots that have coiled and then resoak in seasol. Just keep it protected afterwards until you’re sure it’s recovered.

  • Vickie Peto says:

    I have planted grevillea thelemanniana for the first time. It is on a slope with good drainage. Please provide the proper pruning for this plant.

    • admin says:

      My rule of thumb for pruning is after flowering. If in a frost prone area, never in autumn or winter. And if unsure how much to take off, never below green growth. If you want to find out if a particular plant can be pruned below the green growth (back to a stump or harshly) find a branch at the rear and experiment. Otherwise prune to shape or as desired.

  • Dalton says:

    I live on Hindmarsh Island in SA. My soil is very fine and while not sand, is very close to it. It is also full of limestone and the wind BLOWS LIKE HELL most of the time. Oh, and to add insult to injury, the soil is mostly hydrophobic.
    I love Grevilleas and would like to grow some. Can you please suggest any varieties which may be suited to this hostile environment.
    I have been experimenting for 18 months with all sorts of natives with limited success. If the conditions don’t beat them, the white Italian snails do.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    • admin says:

      I’d say that most plants will struggle in this type of soil. My plan would be to improve the soil and then plant what I want. I’d get some compost (make sure it doesn’t contain traces of fertiliser) and cultivate it is. Then select your favourite Grevilleas and watch them grow. Alternatively you could import soil and then grow them in raised beds.

  • Sue says:

    I have a two year old grevillea on a sloping block. It is in the middle of grass area with grass cleared at the grevillea base (cleared area extends beyond shrub canopy). At time of planting and clearing, small stones were placed at base of grevillea to weight while establishing (without using stakes – as Peter Cundall recommends). This has worked well. Recently I hand-cleared the fringing grass and mulched (moving the stones to the fringe). This is all the change that has occurred.

    My grevillea has begun to turn ashen/grey on leaves near the stem. The leaves were just slowly fading to this colour evenly across the leaves. I thought this may be inadequate water as it has been quite hot, so I applied water as soon as I noticed it and continued to apply water during hot periods (early morning or late evening). The progression of the dead leaves has continued.

    This has happened once before to this plant, but it righted itself (I think I gave it water, but am not sure exactly what I did). It is worse this time…

    Is this more likely to be from over watering or under watering?

    As well as this, today I noticed that some leaves are now yellow with dead- burnt looking tips (this may be a result of the plant being wet in the sunlight one time??)

    The ashen/grey dead leaves are still continuing and more are dying.
    Any suggestions on how i can stop this shrub from dying??
    Thanks, Sue

    • admin says:

      Sue, being on slope it’s unlikely it’s getting too much water. My guess is it’s getting fertiliser from the lawn and suffering from phosphorus toxicity. I’ve found that a fertiliser high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus can help. I’ve used Powerfeed in the past.

  • Kimberley says:

    I have some 3-4 meter high firesprite (I think that was name) grevillias and one has been uprooted in the wind . It has been put back up, but looks very dark almost dead, but branches aren’t breaking off. Will it survive or should I start looking for a replacement? Thanks

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately it sounds like the damage is already done. Sometimes if you’re quick, it is possible to save it with a liberal dose of seasol and water, and if the weather is not too hot. In this case if it’s showing those signs it sounds like it’s all over. Might be best though, as if the wind’s already uprooted it once then it will always be susceptible. Check the roots on it if you pull it out. Sometimes if a plant is not planted correctly the roots can coil which leads to bad root development and ultimately susceptible to being uprooted.

  • Jane says:

    I have a grevilia superb which I would like to move. Will it survive? It is about 1meter wide by half a meter high. Thanks Jane

    • admin says:

      Yes it should if you go about in the correct manner. There are several articles on this blog about transplanting. The secret I’ve found is seasol. Give it seasol a few days before then dig a small trench around the plant about the size of the root ball you’d like to move. Then flood the trench with seasol and water and leave for a week or so. Make sure the water seeps into the soil. If the ground is heavy don’t flood the trench and leave it like a mote. Grevilleas don’t like to be left sitting in water. Then when the weather is cooler sever the roots under the plant and move it. The bigger the root ball you can shift the better (within reason). Make sure you keep up the seosol treatment in it’s new location until it’s recovered. If the weather is hot or the new location is exposed it might be best to plant it into a large pot until it’s recovered. Best of Luck

  • colleenursini says:

    I have small holes in a circle around my grevillea robusta trees and lots of sap is coming out. Is it a boring bug or a woodpecker? It is only attacking my grevillea robusta trees. What should I do?

  • Mark Noakes says:

    I live in San Diego, CA, USA where we have to water often to keep the grass green. I planted a 5-gallon Grevillea Longjohn last year and it has never seemed to thrive. Reading above posts indicates that I have been watering it too much and it’s too close to grass which has to be fertilized. Can I dig up the plant and relocate it to another area away from the grass even though we are entering our spring season?

    • admin says:

      It should transplant ok. I use seasol here in Austraila. Not sure if it’s available in California but it’s a seaweed extract/plant tonic. If you are coming into summer an worried about the hot weather relocate it into a large pot and place in a sheltered position until it recovers. Then plant out in the autumn.

  • Noni Collins says:

    We have a grevillea that is at least 13 yrs old. It was originally stunted by being surrounded by palm trees..after we removed the palm trees it has thrived. The closest proximity tree is a mango @ 2 mtrs away. Over the last two weeks the leaves have turned brown and it looks unwell. It hasn’t been pruned for many years, from all i have read above is the best measure to give it a prune, a little seasol, dont dig around roots ( though might bring the lawn back from around it ) and wait and watch???I can’t think of anything that has happened to it…no lawn fertiliser but the lawn beetle has attacked full force in this time period as well? Do lawn beetles affeect grevilleas???
    Thanks for your help.

    • admin says:

      It’s hard to tell without seeing it. One thing to consider is too much water. When the palms were there they would have taken care of excess water. Now they are gone it may be getting too much???? It might pay to get someone to take a look for you. Not sure about the beetle. It might be best to ask at your local nursery.

  • norris says:

    have a new 15 gallon long john water once a week in platic container till planting, will plant in cauctus mix for drainage, how often to water to get established here in san diego in may weather and heat in august-september?? thanks

    • admin says:

      In hot conditions it’s always best to plant in autumn so it can establish over winter. Then water every few days for the first summer, depending on the heat. Having said that though there is no real golden rule as to how often to water, as many factors come in. If the soil is well draining you will have to water more often.

  • Cheryl Presbury says:

    Could you please suggest ground cover grevilleas that are suited to very sandy soil on the NSW South Coast. We are also 2 streets back from the beach.
    Thanks, Cheryl

    • admin says:

      Local nurseries are always the best place to start as they normally carry stock that is suited to the local conditions. Most Grevilleas will be suited to these conditions though. Make sure you keep the water up in them in hot weather till established.

  • Susan says:

    Hi, I have a Robin Gordon which has been so beautiful in my garden for 17 years but it is dying and I am so sad and don’t know what to do about it. Can you help please.

    • admin says:

      You could try some subtle pruning, just in a few areas, and see if it regenerates. If you get a positive response then a good cut back might be all it needs.

  • John1046 says:

    We have a large old Grevillea in the back corner of our garden. It is about 15m high and and even greater spread. It was large when we came here ten years ago and has continued to increase in size, but in recent years some branches have started to die. Believing it might only have a couple of years left we are considering transplanting one of its progeny several metres away, under its wing, to take over. But we are concerned about the root system, as the sewer passes nearby below. The old tree does not appear to have interfered with the sewer – but I would like to know about the likely root pattern. Do they have deep tap-root, or a spreading topsoil type root.?

  • Beth says:

    Thanks so much! I’m a newbie gardener and purchased a “Moonlight” 3 days ago based on impulse and attraction to its beauty. Fortunately I put it in a well drained sunny area (who knew?). The information on not fertilizing and pruning was most helpful. This website with its Q&A is the best!!!

  • Gege says:

    hello, i live in berkeley, california and i just purchased a “ned kelly” grevillea that appears very healthy and is without flowers yet. i will be re-potting this plant since it is very crowded in the pot i purchased it in. i read that i should increase the pot size by only a couple of sizes, which is good information. what i am wondering is since it is summer here, and winter in australia, is this the reason the plant is not flowering? I would also like to know what is the best soil to re-pot this grevillea in. thank you for your sharing your knowledge and time.

    • admin says:

      As it grows larger it will flower more profusely. For best results plant it in full sun in a lighter soil if possible with good drainage and keep it away from soil that have been treated with fertilizers containing phosporus. Great Choice!

  • Mac says:

    I have two Grevillea Rosmarinifloria, one in my garden in the UK in heavy clay soil right next to my lawn so it is very wet most of the winter and can be dried out during the summer (not this year though!) and this one flowers almost all year round. The other is in my garden in the south of Spain, planted in a large gravel area, poor soil (crushed shale) only a foot of soil then bedrock, no watering just the odd very heavy rain in the winter. When this one was first planted it flowered all year but since then it just flowers now and then and not many flowers then. It is pruned every year after in the autumn. What am I doing wrong?

    • admin says:

      Most Aust Native will survive during harsh conditions but will not thrive. The one in Spain didn’t need as much water when it was smaller but now larger it’s not getting enough water to keep it completely happy so maybe the sparse flowering is a consequence of that?

  • Fiona says:

    I have a moonlight which I planted nearly two years ago. It is around 0.5m tall. It was growing well until recently, but it looks like it is dying off now. There is a ned kelly next to it, which is loving life. From reading the other posts I seem to have done a few of the no-no’s lately. It has been getting more water and I have given it some seasol a couple of times. It also has a couple of exposed bits on some of the branches, which look like they have been scratched away or eaten by something. Can I save it??? I have stopped watering it, but should I also cut off the branches below where they have been damaged?

    • admin says:

      It’s a bit hard to tell exactly the problem from the info you’ve given. If you live in a colder climate the problem might be frost??? or maybe just the cold weather? This would account for the difference to the Ned Kelly which is much more cold tolerant. Remember Moonlight is a tropical grevillea which will grow in the south but it is best to plant it in a protected area facing north. Yes you can prune off the damaged foliage.

  • Valmai Warrington says:

    Is it possible to grow ground cover grevilleas from cuttings

  • Lesley Bryce says:

    What a nice little find to distract me from work this morning. Thanks so much. We’re in the process of a very odd reno project in the Bunya Mountains. I am keen for Grevilleas, so good to read here about a choice for cool/temperate zone. We have renovated a number of old houses and gardens on the Sunshine Coast, all with coastal grevilleas, and I learnt early on that old woody grevilleas absolutely thrive on a very firm handed haircut! Prune and then remove all undergrowth, a squirt of Seasol and you have a beautiful ‘new’ tree.

    • mikeb says:

      Yes I’m a big fan of pruning. This why a lot of Aust Natives are so good for small gardens. When they get too big just give them a “haircut”. Thanks Lesley.

  • Jan Baker says:

    Hi, My son has planted quite a few different type of Grevilleas, they have grown profusely for about 2 years (bronze ramblers 1 metre across) then all of a sudden they have turned up their heels and died.They are on a slope in clay soil mixed with top soil and compost. I presume they have probably grown into the clay and are not happy. A lot of them are also growing under a neighbours pine tree could this be the problem? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks Jan

    • Administrator says:

      It’s a bit hard the confirm the cause from the info provided. Greviileas normally die from lack of water ie if the slope is too steep and water doesn’t soak in especially if rain is infrequent, before they establish. Too much water especially if you dig into the clay and then plant into it it. OR Phosphorus poisoning by using compost with traces of fertiliser.

  • David Farleigh says:

    Hi, I have a ground cover of prostrate Grevilleas growing in a raised garden bed along a retaining wall. After growing well for several years, they are now developing strange clumps of coccoon like nests on the branches and stalkes all over the plants, and we have lost 5 or more plants, they have turned brown and completely died. I have not been able to spot any bugs, but there are certainly many of these coccoons appearing on each plant. Could you help me diagnose what these could be and if I can save the remaing plants? Thanks, David.

    • Administrator says:

      It would be best take it into a local nursery for advice. As a general rule pests normally attack plants that are already sick or stressed from some reason.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Rebel Gardener,
    Do grevilleas respond to drip irrigation? I live in Sydney and have grevillea Firesprites. Also, based on you comments regarding water pooling, I I have planted them too low in the ground and water pools around the trunk – can I build the soil up or is it too late. They have been in about 12 months.
    Thanks
    Chris

    • Administrator says:

      I only water grevilleas to get them established and if it’s really dry. Once you’ve planted them it’s possible to build up the soil to some extent but you need to keep it away from the trunk and have the soil slope away.

  • Daphne Bell says:

    Hi, We planted a Grevillea Honey Gem when we moved here (just north of Brisbane) almost 8 years ago and have had so much pleasure from it all those years. It is almost always covered in flowers and the birds it attracts have been a delight. However…..it has grown quite large. Apart from a lot of tip pruning over the years we haven’t really pruned it much at all. A short while ago we did prune it a bit more drastically but it is still a large tree. It hasn’t flowered since we pruned it, but neither have any other Honey Gems in our local area so we haven’t been concerned. Now we notice the branches are beginning to die off, and I feel we will need to chop it down. We have had a LOT of rain in recent weeks, but we have had a lot of rain in other years here in SEQld and the tree didn’t die then.
    My question is……do Honey Gem trees live for 7-8 years like a wattle, or should we expect it to live for a much longer time. I am considering putting a Golden Penda in it’s place, but really do enjoy the Honey Gem.
    Thank you, Daphne

    • Administrator says:

      Honey Gems like most grevilleas can live many years. They should respond really well to even harsh pruning. Sounds like the wet weather or “wet feet” have effected it. You could always try pruning and see if it recovers when it dries out. Maybe plant a Callistemon nearby to to absorb excess water in the ground.

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