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Plant type Natives, Shrubs
Plant Uses Hedging Plant

Best uses

Best used as a striking specimen plant and looks great in group plantings. Coprosma virescens is useful for landscaping, especially where something that does not spread too much is required.

Physical characteristics

A twiggy, evergreen shrub with an attractive form. Grows 3-4m tall and 1m wide.

Flowers and foliage

This coprosma is very different from other forms. It has golden, coppery stems and pairs of tiny green leaves which are produced on tangled branches. The stems can vary in colour from brownish orange-yellow to coppery red-orange. Tiny flowers are followed by small, fleshy fruit with a single black seed in the middle. The fruit is produced after flowering, from September to November. The bark is smooth and green-tinged. Depending on local climatic conditions, this coprosma may be partly deciduous in the winter months.

Preferred site

Prefers full sun and free-draining soil, but is tolerant of poor soil and dry conditions. Plants may suffer if exposed to extreme drought.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. The best time to plant is from late spring to early summer. Planting success can be improved on clay soils by adding extra topsoil and forming raised beds. Incorporate coarse sand, bark, compost or other organic material to improve soil structure. Dig a hole in the ground twice the size of the root ball. Before planting, ensure that the root ball is saturated and remove planter pot with minimal root disturbance. As soil is placed in the prepared hole, tread firmly to bring soil in close contact with the root ball. Water thoroughly, making sure that moisture penetrates to the depth of the root ball.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Organic material, such as sawdust and bark, contribute to soil structure. However, make sure to keep mulch away from plant stems. The first summer and autumn after planting are critical for young plants, so water thoroughly during dry periods. A light application (50g/m2) of general-purpose fertiliser in spring is beneficial. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3cm of the soil, taking care not to damage surface roots. This plant maintains a compact habit without pruning.

Pests and diseases

Scale insects, rust and thrips may occasionally be a problem. Prune scale and thrip-infected stems.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Native Plant Ideas

Interesting facts and tips

Coprosma virescens is a divaricating shrub. You can tell this by its angular branches. Divaricating shrubs make up about 10% of New Zealand s woody flora, a phenomenon not seen to such an extent in any other country in the world. There are about 60 species belonging to 20 different plant families. They occur naturally in a wide range of habitats, from lowland forest and scrubland to mountain and sub-alpine areas. The tangled, twiggy appearance of these special plants is a major contributor to the unique wild appearance of some New Zealand landscapes. They are thought to have been part of the moa's diet. The species was discovered near Dunedin by botanist Donald Petrie circa 1879.