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Zone
Zones 15-24, H1
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Banksia

Proteaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

Grow these Australian nativesfor their interesting leaves andshowstopping flowers, muchprized for arrangements. Leavesare usually long and narrow,sometimes with strikingly saw-toothed edges. The tiny flowersappear in dense round or cylindricalclusters and are followedby long-lasting woody seedcones. Blooms are rich in nectar.

On level ground, amend heavyclay soil by adding perlite andshredded fir bark. Build a lowmound of soil and plant on top.Add a gravel mulch to protectroots. To prevent disease, keepwater away from the plant’scrown. Plants are subject toroot rot fungi and require perfectdrainage. Water fairly regularlyfor the first year or two,then cut back to deep but infrequentirrigation; most banksiascan withstand long dry periods.Treat chlorosis with iron chelates.Avoid fertilizers containingphos phorus, as they will killthe plants.

The tree species have nospecial pruning needs; onshrubs, shorten previous season’sgrowth if needed to limitsize, but don’t cut into oldwood. Banksias show varyingtolerance to coastal conditionsin California; in Hawaii, humidityis too high for them at sealevel, and they are grown athigher elevations.

Banksias need excellentdrainage and good air circulation.They grow best on slopesin very well-drained soil.

Banksia spinulosa, photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero
Banksia spinulosa, photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero

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Banksia spinulosa

To 2–4 ft.tall, 4–5 ft. wide. Narrow,medium green leaves are serrated. Cylindrical blossoms,up to 5 in. across, are goldenyellow to orange, sometimeswith red; blooms fall throughwinter. One of the easier banksias to grow. ‘Schnapper Point’ has rich yellow-and-red flowers.

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