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Evergreen, Ground covers, Shrubs, Trees

This plant group generally has fine-textured foliage and long, slender, curved flowers, usually borne in dense clusters. Many cannot tolerate salt-laden soils, poor water quality, heavy summer irrigation, or heavy frost, but all are attractive enough to warrant some risk taking. Like other members of the protea family, they are sensitive to high levels of phosphorus in the soil. Fertilize lightly and avoid high-phosphorus fertilizers.

Grevillea alpina

Highly variable in size and form. Among the most widely distributed is ‘East Grampians’, a low spreader (to 2 1/2 ft. high and 5 ft. wide) with inch-long bright green leaves and masses of red-and-yellow flowers from fall through spring. Full sun or light shade.

Grevillea curviloba

Often sold as Grevillea tridentifera or Grevillea biternata. Variable habit; may reach 6 ft. high and 10–15 ft. across or grow as a low (2-ft.) spreader, also to 10–15 ft. wide. Finely divided bright green leaves; cream-colored, honey-scented blossoms in winter and spring. To use as ground- or bank cover, prune out any stems that grow upright. Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea lanigera

From Australia. Spreading, mounding growth to 3–6 ft. tall, 6–10 ft. across. Closely set, narrow, 1/2-in.-long leaves are covered with hairs that give the foliage a grayish cast. Clusters of narrow, curved, crimson-and-cream flowers are profuse in winter and spring; attractive to hummingbirds.

Good bank cover in hot, sunny areas; good transition beween garden and wild area.

Grevillea lavandulacea

Variable, but all forms are dense growers with half-inch-long gray leaves. ‘Billywing’, to 2 1/2 ft. high and 6 ft. wide, has red-and-cream flowers in winter and spring. ‘Penola’, to 5 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide (or larger), bears deep rose red blossoms fall through spring. ‘Tanunda’ is 1 1/2–3 ft. high and 3–6 ft. wide, with profuse coral-pink flowers; the main show comes in winter, with occasional repeat bloom in midsummer.

Grevillea robusta
Grevillea robusta

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Grevillea robusta

Fast-growing tree to 50–60 ft. (rarely 100 ft.) tall. Young trees are symmetrical and pyramidal. Old ones are broad topped (30–35 ft. wide), usually with a few heavy, horizontal limbs; picturesque against the skyline. Ferny leaves are golden green to deep green above, silvery beneath. Heavy leaf fall in spring, sporadic leaf drop throughout the year. Large clusters of bright golden orange flowers in early spring. Orioles and hummingbirds like the nectar. 

Wood is brittle and easily damaged in high winds. For sturdier branches, cut back the central leader hard at planting time and shorten branches to a well-balanced framework. Thrives in heat; one of the lushest greens for low desert. Useful as a quick, tall screen; can be clipped as a tall hedge. Full sun. Grows in poor, dense soils if not overwatered; can take regular water in fast-draining soils. Young trees are damaged at 24°F/–4°C; older ones are hardy to 16°F/–9°C. Beyond the hardiness range, is sometimes grown as a potted plant or houseplant and discarded when it gets too big.

Grevillea rosmarinifolia

Shrub. Grows to 6 ft. tall and nearly as broad. Narrow leaves are dark green on top, silvery beneath; look somewhat like those of rosemary. Red-and-cream flower clusters (rarely pink or white) in fall and winter; scattered bloom in other seasons. Use as a clipped or informal hedge in dryish places. Impervious to heat and aridity. A popular dwarf form, just 3 ft. high and 6 ft. wide, bears pink-and-cream flowers in waves throughout the year, most heavily in spring and fall. Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea thelemanniana

Shrub. Graceful, open, rounded habit to 5–8 ft. tall and wide. Blue-green leaves are needlelike but soft to the touch. Clusters of bright red flowers tipped yellow can appear in any season. ‘Baby’ is a dwarf light-green-leafed selection 6–8 in. high and 3–4 ft. wide, useful for trailing over a wall or down a bank. ‘Magic Lantern’ (‘Gilded Dragon’) has feathery gray leaves, and grows to 2–3 ft. tall and 4–6 ft. wide. All forms can be temperamental in Northern California; they prefer the dry, warm winters of Southern California. Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea x gaudichaudii

Prostrate plant spreading 10–15 ft. wide. Lobed leaves resembling oak leaves are bronzy when they emerge, then mature to dark green. Toothbrush-like clusters of dark red flowers in winter and spring. Provide good drainage, moderate water. Takes sun but prefers partial shade. Tolerates extended wet periods.

Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’

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Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’

Open, graceful growth to 8 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide. Needlelike, bright green, 1-in. leaves. Clusters of red flowers in winter and spring (and intermittently at other times). Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea ‘Fanfare’

Thought to be a hybrid involving Grevillea x gaudichaudii. Like that parent, it is low and spreading, to 1 ft. tall and 10–15 ft. wide. Narrow, sawtoothed leaves up to 7 in. long are coppery red and covered with silky hairs when young, maturing to dark green. Toothbrush-like flowers in deep red appear winter to spring. Excellent tough, fast-growing groundcover; tip prune after flowering to keep dense. Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea ‘Noelii’

Grows to 4 ft. tall and 5–8 ft. wide. Densely clad with needlelike, 1-in.-long, glossy green leaves. Clusters of pink-and-white spidery flowers bloom in spring. Easy to grow. Takes shearing well; good formal or informal hedge. Full sun or partial shade. Moderate water.

Grevillea ‘Poorinda Constance’

Open, graceful habit to 8 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide. Narrow, bright green, 1-in. leaves are dark green above, whitish beneath. Clusters of red-orange flowers appear in spring, often repeating in fall. Full sun.

Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)
Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)

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Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’

Grows to 3–5 ft. tall and wide, with bright green, needlelike leaves. Bright red, spidery flowers appear almost year round. Takes well to shearing; good low hedge. Full sun or partial shade.

Grevillea ‘White Wings’ (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)
Grevillea ‘White Wings’ (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)

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Grevillea ‘White Wings’

Shrub. Grows to 6–9 ft. tall and spreads to 10–15 ft. wide, with finely divided, bright green leaves. Masses of fragrant white flowers appear in spring, with a scattering at other times. Good for bank or slope planting. Full sun or partial shade.

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