Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grevilleas to cheer up a winter weary soul.

I was just outside and it was snowing. Luckily it wasn't sticking but it sure had a wintery feel. This year I'm anxiously awaiting spring. The prospect of a truly warm day and sunny weather seems so remote at the moment.
A group of plants that I have always found to cheer my winter doldrums is Grevilleas. They are a group of some 340 species native mostly to Australia. We grow quite a few now and when they begin to unfurl their complicated little flowers in late winter they are just the tonic that I require.

Juniper Spider Flower- or Juniper Grevillea is one of the best. It come in a surprising variation of flower color- we grow 6 different variants and they all begin blooming in February. Each confloresence- a group of individual flowers is tubular shaped- a perianth that unfurls as the flowers open releasing a long style that exerts itself from the flower.
Superficially I think you could compare them to Honeysuckle flowers and though they have no scent they come in such vivid colors that they are hard to ignore.

Grevillea juniperina 'Lava Cascade' is an excellent low growing shrub that produces masses of brilliant orange flowers beginning in late winter and continuing until fall. It has fine grass green needle-like foliage. Another selection 'Molonglo' has apricot/yellow flowers that nearly obscure the foliage when in bloom.

Grevillea victorae is a regal shrub native to the higher alpine areas of Australia. Unlike the Juniper Grevillea it has handsome entire leaves clad in silver and the perfect back drop to the pendant orange flowers. Hummingbirds find this shrub irresistable and they are always near by when it is bloom. And boy does it bloom. Nearly year round rust orange and brighter orange flowers decorate the branch tips.

One of my favorites is Grevillea 'Marshall Olbrich' a seedling found at Western Hills Nursery. Finer leaves than Grevillea victorae it superficially resembles an olive tree.
To 8' tall and as wide- quickly- it is a handsome and profuse bloomer. The pendant orange flowers dangle nearly 3" and unfurl to reveal their nectar filled centers.
Grevilleas are in the protea family and they deeply resent soils heavy in organic matter.
Plant them in our native soil with no fertilizer and light watering and they will thrive.


  1. Posting a comment to see if this blog thing works.

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  4. All of the Grevilleas that I mentioned are hardy to Zn7b (5 to 10F).

  5. Yay! New a new Xera blog! Hope this means lots of informative posts.


  6. I'm going to try to update our blog every few days and supply as much information as I can. Blogs are fun.

  7. Paul, I'm going to Hortlandia this weekend. In previous years when there I've asked Vendor X if he had any Plant Y, and sometimes the reply was, "Yes, but I didn't bring it along."

    I'm trying to solve the problem this year by emailing a short list of about 6 plants I'd like to bring home. I have my list, now I'm collecting the email addresses. The one I have for Xera is; will that work?

    Thanks, Paul. (I spoke with you briefly after your talk on Feb 27 at APLD-NW, the landscape designers.)

    garyschuldt at comcast dot net

  8. check out my blog-of-sorts.... Xeriscaping Florida

    I too am just learning.