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Plant type Shrubs

Best uses

Great for use in South African style plantings with other plants such as proteas and bulbs. An excellent addition to the garden for use as a cut flower. Also great for planting in low maintenance and water wise gardens especially those with poor soil.

Physical characteristics

A small evergreen shrub that grows up to 1.2m tall and 1m wide.

Flowers and foliage

Creamy yellow bracts surround cone-shaped flowers in spring. Leaves are leathery and bright green becoming more yellow in colour towards the tips.

Preferred site

Prefers sunny positions with good drainage, sandy and volcanic soils are most suitable. Plant in open areas to avoid root competition.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy well-grown plants and plant after autumn rains. Shrubs may be planted at any time throughout the year provided they are watered during dry periods. Planting success is often 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. Planting after autumn rains when the soil is moist and warm allows shrubs to become established before winter. This enables them to withstand dry periods during the following summer.

Before planting ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and firm in and water once planted. As soil is placed in the prepared hole tread firmly to bring soil in close contact with the root-ball. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow release fertiliser and then every spring apply an organic based fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre as new growth begins. Planting too closely leads to spindly growth poor flowering and eventual decline so be sure to leave plenty of room.

Do not allow plants to dry out. Once established in your garden they will survive long periods of drought. Plants grow well in average well-drained soil. Small young plants are easier to establish than larger more mature ones and will grow quickly when planted in autumn when soil is moist and warm.

This plant is sensitive to phosphate therefore never apply fertilisers containing superphosphate or plant in soils which have received superphosphate within the last five years. Avoid cultivating near plants as their roots are easily damaged.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to suppress weeds and keep the soil cool. Leucadendrons prefer to have a mulch of stones opposed to a heavy mulch which may hold too much moisture. Feed annually in spring with a balanced fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre in spring as new growth begins. Prune off any old flowers after flowering to keep them compact and promote growth of next seasons flowering wood. In fact, pruning of Leucadendron doesn't just give you a nice bunch of flowers but helps keep the plant bushy and lush.

If newly planted plants are located in cooler situations it may be a good idea to cover with frost cloth on particularly cold nights for the first winter as young plants can be susceptible to frost damage.

Plants require good watering in winter and moderate watering in summer. Do not allow plants to dry out but once established in your garden they will survive long periods of drought.

Pests and diseases

Humid conditions favour leaf spot diseases and leaf roller caterpillars and thrips may attack leaves in summer, therefore, plant with plenty of spacing to allow air circulation.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

African Garden