Grevillea

Exotic shrubs that bloom year round

We are fascinated with this genus of plants native to Australia. The vast majority of the nearly 400 species are shrubs which are what we grow. Australia is a big country but the areas that receive truly cold weather are restricted to the highest mountains and alpine valleys. Not surprisingly species from the highest elevations of the Australian alps have proven to be fantastic shrubs in our climate- and there are many more species and cultivars waiting to be tested here.

Grevilleas are members of the Proteaceae. That family which is ancient is almost exclusively from the southern hemisphere. Proteaceaous plants have several peculiarities that are important to understand to succeed with them. The soils they are adapted to are universally old and poor and to thrive in those conditions they even form what are called Proteoid roots. These are fine, fine, clusters of roots that can extract the most microscopic nutrients from depleted soils. This has made them very sensitive to overly enriched soils and the substance phosphorus is particularly toxic. Avoid all fertilizers.

So, what they require to thrive- and we’ve grown them in this climate for more than 20 years- is just a whole lot of neglect. Do not enrich the soil, even with compost. Our native unimproved soils are exactly what they require. The best way to approach planting a Grevillea (or any Proteaceaous plant) is simply to dig the hole, plant, and water the plant if it gets dry until you see good new growth. Then cease. Grevilleas are supremely drought adapted and are best left to subsist on only what falls from the sky. Its important to avoid watering them in hot weather. The combination of wet/hot soil will kill them- almost immediately. Neglect. It works.

We love them for their varied textures as well as propensity in our climate to bloom continuously- including all through winter. Give them a slightly protected location such as a south or west facing aspect in as much sun as possible. During the winter I have a permanent “flock” of Hummingbirds who harass my shrubs- one of the few nectar sources in winter- and they know it.  If you want hummingbirds this is the number one shrub to plant.

They all grow very very fast, even without irrigation and it is advisable to prune them regularly to make sure that underground root growth mass matches top growth. If  above ground growth is too rank it can rock the whole plant in gusty weather. Also, if your plant is shy to flower we have found that tip pruning, even very lightly, will spur them into bloom.

Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW

Grevillea australis

Alpine Grevillea is a cold hardy, handsome adaptable evergreen shrub that is good looking at all times. In late winter/early spring flossy white flowers explode over the bush and emit an intense honey fragrance. Each small leaf is olive/ochre green on the surface and silver below. Fine textured very rounded compact shrub to 4′ tall and 5′ wide in 5 years. Avoid enriched, over improved soil. Best in unimproved native or even poor soils with sharp drainage. Little water ever once established. Cold hardiest Grevillea taking temperatures to just near 0ºF with no problem. Good deer resistance.

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Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’

Juniper leaved Grevillea that is a low spreading ground cover. Grass green needle like foliage plays host and is often obscured by masses of curly apricot yellow flowers. They peak in late spring but occur almost any time of year. Poor, well drained soil in full sun with no supplemental water ever. To 2′ tall by 6′ wide in 5 years. Supremely adapted to the heat and drought of parking strips. Dense enough growth to smother weeds Best with total neglect. Loved by hummingbirds.

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Grevillea juniperina ‘Pink Lady’

A shrub for collectors or Proteaphiles. Compact growing evergreen shrub with medium green needle-like foliage. To 2′ x 4′ in 5 years. Nearly year round but peaking in spring, copious light pink curly flowers are loved by hummers. Protected location in virgin, un-improved soil. Little to no summer irrigation. Excellent on a hot south facing slope- avoid crowding by other plants or an exposed cold site. Its possible that this is a hybrid and not pure G. juniperina. However, there is so much variability in this species that we are unsure. Best on slopes facing south. Extremely drought tolerant.

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Grevillea juniperina ‘Xera Ember’

Our selection of the Juniper Leaved Grevillea with darker orange to near red profuse flowers and a more compact habit. To 2′ x  4′ wide in time the prickly grass green foliage of this spreading evergreen shrub allows the vivid curly deeply colored flowers to shine. Blooms nearly year round with a peak in mid to late spring. Loved by hummingbirds. Completely drought adapted- never needs supplemental water. Poor to average soil that drains but has never been amended or fertilized. Awesome candidate for a hot hillside or a protected hot south facing wall. Spectacular in bloom. Requests neglect- you should oblige. Full sun.  High deer resistance.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Grevillea miqueliana

Round leaf Grevillea is a great cold hardy species from the highest elevations in the Mountains of SE Australia. Handsome wavy round evergreen leaves frame showy pendant flower clusters from January to June. The sunset colored flowers feature orange/yellow/pink in various incarnations depending on the temperatures. Loved by over wintering Anna’s hummingbirds. Any reasonably well drained soil that has NOT been amended. Native soils are perfect. Great on slopes. Large growing to 8′ x 8′ in 6 years. Little summer water required. Sporadic flowers appear year round. Avoid fertilizers. One of the best climate adapted Grevilleas that we have grown. Grows very fast with little water. Full sun and a hot position.

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Grevillea victoriae

AKA Royal Grevillea. From the high mountains of Australia one of the most handsome and exotic shrubs that will grow in our climate. Fast growing evergreen to 7′ tall and as wide in 5 years- much larger in time. Silvery gray leaves and from September to April rust colored drooping buds that open to orange flowers. Full sun to part shade in a cool position- an open north exposure. Too hot and dry and it will abort its flower buds formed in summer. Avoid the reflected heat of walls, asphalt. Excellent performance in cooler areas including the Oregon Coast. Average, well drained soil  and NO FERTILIZER, NO COMPOST- virgin soil that is well drained is best.  BLOOMS ALL WINTER.  Hummingbirds. 

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Grevillea x ‘Canberra Gem’

One of the easiest Grevilleas to grow in our gardens this free flowering hybrid requires a protected location but is surprisingly hardy when well sited. To 4′ x 6′ wide in 5 years, the needle like foliage is bright green and fairly crowded along the stems. In spring through autumn- and sometimes during mild winters clusters of spidery deep vivid magenta flowers appear all over the plant. Very showy. Loved by hummers. Full sun and average to poor well drained soils. Great at the top of a hillside or next to the south wall of a house. No summer water- ever, or compost. Native unimproved soils are what it loves. Cold hardy to the low teens. It has recovered from lower and we’ve seen established shrubs in protected places all over western Oregon. Fantastic performance at the Oregon Coast where it should become a staple landscape shrub. High deer resistance- and that includes Elk on the coast. Takes well to pruning after the first flush of bloom has ended. Hybrid between G. rosmarinifolia and G. juniperina. Evergreen.

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Grevillea x ‘Leanne’

Handsome evergreen shrub that displays gold/old gold spidery flowers nearly year round- peaking in mid winter. Clean paddle shaped leaves are olive green on top and silver gray on the underside. Dense growing to 4′ x 5′ in full sun and poor to average well drained soil. Little summer water when established. Loved by hummingbirds. One of the easiest to grow and fairly spectacular in full winter bloom. Excellent everblooming shrub for slopes, dry hillsides, low water areas. Avoid compost, nutrients. ‘Leanne’ thrives on our own unimproved native soils. Full sun to very light shade and neglect, sweet neglect. Excellent cold hardiness.

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Grevillea x ‘Marshall Olbrich’

Pretty and very large Grevillea that deserves the mildest parts of the garden. Small gray leaves are handsome and a great backdrop to the hot orange pendant clusters of flowers. Blooms year round with an especially large flush in spring. Loved by overwintering Anna’s Hummingbirds. Not the hardiest Grevillea- protect from subfreezing east wind- site on a south or west facing aspect. To 9′ x 9′ fast. Plant in UNAMENDED native soil- avoid compost and fertilizer. Supremely drought adapted. Avoid watering in summer. Excellent performance at the Oregon coast. Our stock plant which has thrived for 15 years in a very cold place is situated on a slope with the overhead protection of Douglas firs. Evergreen. High deer resistance.

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Grevillea x ‘Neil Bell’

A chance seedling in Neil Bell’s Monmouth, Oregon garden has yielded one of the finest Grevilleas that we can grow. Large evergreen shrub with dapper paddle shaped leaves olive green on top and gray underneath. Year round spidery pendant tomato red flowers appear- waxing and waning with the weather- they favor cooler weather. Fast growing and completely drought adapted. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Takes well to tip pruning. Well drained average to poor soils that have NOT been improved. Adaptable to clay especially on slopes. Loved by hummingbirds and predominantly staked out in winter by Anna’s who recognize it as a superior food source. It has been cold hardy to 5ºF planted in the ground suffering no damage. 8′ x 8′.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Grevillea x ‘Octopinky’

This seedling showed up in my garden about 6 years ago. It must have been from ‘Constance’ which froze out but this seedling remained. Curious shrub with congested deep green small leaves lining long arching branches. Shows little interest in branching on its own- you can fix this with a few snips of the terminal ends of the branches. I was amazed to find the peach/pink flowers that arrived one spring. Its parent plant had flowers of dark orange/red so this was a surprise. It blooms heavily with clusters of small curly flowers, the perianth reflexes and reveals a long style that is actually light brown. Curious shrub for the collector. Its been hardy below 10ºF in 2013 and since then has never shown cold damage . Full sun and average to poor well drained soil. Little to no summer water when established. The arching stems reminded me of an Octopus. Hence the name. To 4′ x 4′ at a moderate clip.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Grevillea x ‘Poorinda Queen’

Cold hardy large evergreen hybrid Grevillea with fine needle-like foliage and a nearly constant parade of soft citrus orange spidery flowers. No matter the weather this carefree shrub seems to be in bloom. Heaviest flowering is in mid-winter just when the gardener needs it most. Large spreading shrub to 8′ x 8′ in poor, well drained native soil. Little to no summer water when established. Very very cold hardy enduring 5ºF with no damage. Give it room to spread as it grows very fast. Takes light overhead shade if not too dense. Incredibly drought tolerant. Very difficult to propagate but we are always trying to make as much of this awesome shrub as possible. The intensity of the flower color shifts with the seasons gaining vividness with cooler temps. Wonderful winter blooming shrub.

 

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