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Best uses

Best used as a ground cover for large, dry areas.

Physical characteristics

An evergreen, prostrate shrub that grows up to 20cm tall and 1.2m wide.

Flowers and foliage

Deeply lobed bronze foliage contrast well with the bright red/pink flowers in spring.

Preferred site

Prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Tolerates poor soil and dryness when established and flowers freely in sunny positions.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. Plant after autumn rains when the soil is moist and warm, allowing trees and shrubs to become established before winter. Planting success is often improved on clay soils by adding gypsum and extra topsoil and forming raised beds. Incorporate coarse sand, bark and compost to improve soil structure. Before planting, ensure that the root ball is saturated and remove planter pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots or branches and plant at the same level as in the container. 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. They generally require no added fertiliser but a bit of general slow-release fertiliser can be added at planting.

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.

If the soil is very poor and plants appear to be stunted, apply a light dressing (30g/m2) of sulphate of ammonia in spring. Do not use fertilisers which contain phosphate, which can cause plant death. Prune lightly to shape after flowering to maintain a compact habit. Otherwise, these plants require no pruning until they get too large for their allotted space.

Ecological and biodiversity benefits

Attracts bees and birds.

Pests and diseases

Relatively pest and disease free.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Urban Trees