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The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 3)

A high hedge surrounding a wooden gate - one of the best hedging plants.

Welcome to Part 3 of our extended piece on the best hedging plants for your garden.

For a dedicated article on Growing Metrosideros Hedging Plants, see here.

Nandina domestica “Nana” low hedge plant

Although this plant is commonly called “Dwarf Scared  bamboo” it is actually a small shrub like plant that produces bamboo like foliage.  It has been used as a garden shrub and hedge for many years in gardens around the world. 

Most Nandina “Nana” hedges are grown for 30cm up to 1m tall.  Nandina “nana” make a great low hedge, however they are a bit slow growing for hedges of 1m. 

Plants are quite interesting as the foliage of Nandina “nana” changes colour in winter from light green to bright red and back to green in spring.   Nandina plants are surprisingly hardy and will grow in sandy to heavier soils, although not suited to clays.  

Best climates for Nandina “nana” plants generally are temperate, warm temperate and subtropical climates.  Plants grow best in full sun to semi-shade conditions. 

Growth occurs mainly in spring and early summer , so if you want your Nandina “nana'” to grow quickly then fertilise them around this time of year.  Growth virtually stops in winter, in most temperate climates.    

Plants do not require much care once established and pests are not normally a problem. 

Nandina “nana” Plants can live for around 15 years plus.  A newer variety called “Gulf Stream” (pbr), is available which looks more bamboo like and is faster growing. 

Nandina “Gulf Stream” variety is also great for creating hedges and is quicker growing than Nandina “nana”.

Tibouchina “Jazzie” medium hedging plant

If you are looking for an informal hedge (one which is not pruned constantly) with heaps of colourful flowers, then “Jazzie” could be one of the best hedging plants for you. 

Tibouchina “Jazzie” is an evergreen shrub growing to around 1.5 to 2m in height.   “Jazzie” flowers for a long period and in good conditions will flower for around 9 months of the year in warm temperate and subtropical regions.

“Jazzie” will also grow well in mediterranean regions with extra summer watering.  Tibouchina “Jazzie” develops masses of large purple flowers throughout the warmer part of the year. 

Flowers develop on the end of stems, as a result “Jazzie” is not suited to constant pruning, however a trim twice a year will keep this plant looking neat.   Pruning is best done during the growing season, in spring and summer.  

Tibouchina “Jazzie” is a good hedge to use in full sun conditions along a fence line. Plants grow at a steady rate and provide a good visual screen.   This variety of Tibouchina is not suited to cool regions with heavy frosts. 

“Jazzie” is quite adaptable to various soil types  (even with some clay).  Best soils types to grow Tibouchina “Jazzie” are loams with good drainage.  Generally this is a very easy care plant that should be used more often in home gardens. 

Plant with organic matter and fertilise in spring and autumn with a general purpose or organic garden fertiliser.  Plants live around 15 years plus. 

“Jazzie” can also make a lovely pot plant. See here for more information.

Abelia grandiflora medium hedging plant

Abelia grandiflora is a fast growing hedge plant that is suitable for hedge of around 1.5 to 2m. Abelia grandiflora has small green/tan coloured leaves on arching stems. Abelia grandiflora is deciduous in in colder climates with frosty winters and semi-deciduous in warm temperate climates.

Flowers on this plant are small and white with no perfume.  Abelia grandiflora plants can be best grown into informal hedges as these plants tend to be fast growing with arching stems.  Neat formal hedges can be created, however regular trimming is required. 

Abelia plants will normally grow quite quickly under good conditions and plants are generally drought tolerant.  

Abelia grandiflora will grow in most soil types, although a little slower growing in heavy clays. 

Care of Abelia is quite straight forward, with trimming done during the growing season and hard pruning done in winter.   Pests are generally not an issue with Abelia plants.

In regard to care Abelia grandiflora are acid soil loving plants like azaleas and camellias.  So, azalea/camellia fertiliser can be applied in spring, however any general purpose fertiliser will keep them growing. 

Abelia plants prefer full sun, however they will grow well in semi-shade conditions also.  Abelia hedges can be quite attractive in the right type of garden.  Abelia grandiflora plants are best suited to cottage and country gardens and larger blocks. 

Abelia Grandiflora - one of the best hedging plants


Gardenia florida low flowering hedge

Gardenia florida has long been known as a perfumed, flowering plant,  however, it also makes an attractive low to medium hedge. 

Gardenia florida hedges are best left in an informal hedge shape (left unpruned).  This is particularly important if you wish to have a flowering hedge as regular pruning removes most of the developing flowers. 

If you wish to keep a very neat formal hedge, then Gardenia florida can also be trimmed regularly into your chosen hedge shape.   The lush green leaves making an attractive hedge.  Gardenia florida can be grown as a hedge from 60cm up to 1m tall. 

The best climates for Gardenia florida are subtropical, warm temperate and temperate climates.  Gardenia florida will grow in full sun and semi-shade conditions.  As it can be hard to find hedging plants suited to both conditions this makes Gardenia florida a popular hedging plant.  

Best soil types for Gardenias are loams,  however these plants will grow in the sandy soils and heavier soils.  Avoid heavy clay soils and soils with bad drainage.

To care for your Gardenia florida hedge, apply fertiliser in spring, summer and autumn with Azalea/camellia fertiliser. 

Gardenia plants prefer acid soils and will turn yellow if the soil is too alkaline.  If your Gardenia has turned yellow the addition of Azalea camellia fertiliser will improve the colour of foliage and development of flowers.  You can also purchase liquid fertilisers for acid loving plants, which will do great things for the growth of your Gardenia florida. 

Gardenia florida is generally an easy plant to grow and will live for around 15 years in good conditions.

If you haven’t read it already you should also check out our introduction and tips to planting, establishing and growing garden hedges here.

Pittosporum “Silver sheen” hedging & screen plant

As we’ve said before, finding the best hedging plant for you depends on what you want from your hedge. For example, Pittosporum “Silver sheen” is a fast growing plant that is suited to tall hedging and screen plantings. 

Silver sheen has small green leaves with a glossy shine. The stems are black and branches and truck are grey. Due to the upright growth and quick growth this Pittosporum has become a popular plant for tall screen plantings. 

As a screen plant it can grow to around 4 or 5m tall and can be kept as a hedge down to around 2m.  Best climates for “Silver sheen” are cool temperate to warm   temperate regions. Avoid areas with heavy frosts or snow.

Best soils for “Silver sheen” are sandy loams. This plant is not suited to heavy clays as root development becomes weak.  When planting Silver sheen it is important to stake the plant to assist in good root development. 

Pittosporum “Silver sheen” is best planted in full sun, however plants will grow in part shade, but develop less foliage.

Generally speaking Pittosporum “Silver sheen” is an easy care plant.  However it can be attacked in some regions by soil grubs called “Curl grubs”,  that eat the root system.  This is the usual reason why this Pittosporum may suddenly die.  Treatments are available to control “Curl grubs”.

This Pittosporum is fast growing, but is fairly short lived at around 12 to 15 years.  Fertilise with any general purpose fertiliser in spring and autumn.

pittosporum hedge plant - one of the best hedging plants

Pittosporum “Green pillar” medium hedging plant

This is a great form of dwarf Pittosporum that makes an affective hedge to around 1.5m tall.  The foliage is thick and lime green in colour. 

As the name suggests the plants are fairly upright, so when planting as a hedge take this into account when spacing.  Due to the compact nature of this plant many gardeners leave their “Green Pillar” unpruned, however a tip prune once or twice a year will keep this plant neat. 

Pittosporum “Green Pillar” does not produce any noticeable flowers.  

Best climates are temperate to warm temperate.  Best soils are sandy loams to heavier soils, but avoid heavy clays. “Green Pillar” can be a little slow growing compared to other Pittosporums, but they also live longer, potentially up to 20 years.

To care for your Pittosporum “Green Pillar” fertilise twice a year in spring and autumn with any general purpose garden fertiliser. Pests are generally not a major problem with these plants, but aphids can attack the new growth in spring and autumn.  Keep your plants healthy to avoid any pest attack. 

The best positions for “Green Pillar” are full sun, however these plants will grow in areas with some shade for part of the day. 

Polygala myrtifolia “Grandifora” hedging plant

Polygala “Grandiflora” is a fast growing shrub that makes an attractive medium screen or hedge to around 2m tall.  

Polygala “Grandiflora” is a drought tolerant, hardy plant and will grow in most soils.  Polygala produce masses of attractive purple flowers during autumn to spring. 

Best climates for Polygala are temperate to warm temperate regions.  “Grandifora” has few pest problems. 

Plants can be pruned regularly or left to produce a informal hedge (not pruned). 

Polygala plants are generally easy care.   Fertilise with a general purpose fertiliser in spring and autumn to enhance growth.  

Plants live for around 15 years in good conditions.

Large conifer hedge – cypress “Leighton green”

Leylands cypress or Cypressocyparis leylandii “Leighton green” is a large, fast growing evergreen tree that is used for tall hedges and screen plantings. 

“Leighton green” conifers can grow into a large tree if grown as a specimen plant and can grow to 10m plus.   They can however be kept as a neat hedge of around 3m and taller.  

To keep your “Leighton green” conifer hedge at a manageable size it will need regular pruning.

Some gardeners on large properties and farms use “Leighton green” to create wind breaks and screening.  It has also been used as a hedge plant on smaller properties, but needs constant pruning to keep in low.  

“Leighton green” is a excellent variety for large hedges as the foliage is thick and responds to pruning well. 

“Leighton green” will grow in almost any soil including heavy clays.   It will also grow in areas with cold winters and frosts.  “Leighton green” is drought tolerant in most climates.

Conifer “Leighton green” is generally an easy care plant and has few pest problems.  One pest that is a problem for these conifers in drier climates is “cypress canker” which can kill trees over a few months.   Branches start to die back one by one till the whole plant turns brown.   There are treatments for this disease, contact your local nursery for more information. 

Best climates for this plant is cool temperate to temperate climates.   

Fertiliser is not normally required, but fertilising in spring and autumn will speed growth.    Plants will live many decades.

A selection of conifer plants in a nursery - one of the best hedging plants

Acmena smithii var Minor dwarf Lilly Pilly hedge

Amena smithii var Minor is an Australian native plant that makes an excellent medium to tall hedge.  

Acmena smithii var Minor is a dwarf form of the popular native tree called Acmena smithii, which is also used extensively as a hedging plant.  Acmena smithii var Minor is used for hedges from around 1.5m to 4m tall.   However, it can take a few years to get up to 4m tall.  

It has become a very popular hedge plant and due to its great growing characteristics,  it has been developed into multitudes of other varieties, shapes and sizes.

Acmena smithii Minor has small thin leaves and the new growth is reddish in colour.  The new growth makes and attractive display when the plant is not in flower.  Flowers are borne in spring and are cream in colour. 

This dwarf Lilly pilly has fairly upright foliage which makes in great for more confined spaces. So, if you need a thinner hedge, then is plant could be a good option. 

Acmena smithii var minor is quite adaptable to changing sun conditions and can grow in semi-shade to full sun conditions.  

One of the great attributes of this variety is its resistance to pests and diseases. It is generally considered resistant to Lilly pilly psyllid which is a nasty pest to many Lilly pilly plants, creating misshaped new foliage. 

In regard to soil conditions you will find that Acmena smithii will grow in most soils, from clays to sandy soils.

Pruning Acmena smithii var minor is quite easy, as this variety has thin branches. A good prune every 4 months will keep it compact. Regular pruning (once every two months) has a positive effect on this variety and creates a great looking, neat hedge.

If left unpruned Acmena smithii var minor develops heaps of cream flowers in spring or summer followed by interesting purple fruit which native Australian birds love.

Acmena smithii var minor is one of the easiest care Lilly pilly hedge plants. It does not have many pest problems. Scale insects (white lumps on stems) and the odd caterpillar being the only pests that seem to attack it. These pests can be controlled by certain systemic insecticides.

The growth speed of this dwarf Lilly pilly is good, but can be improved by using a native fertiliser in spring, summer and autumn. Plants live for around 30 years plus.

Acmena smithii “Cherry surprise” (pbr) hedge plant

Acmena smithii “Cherry surprise” is a recent selection of Lilly pilly that is proving to be amongst the best hedging plants. 

It has been developed from Acmena smithii minor and has all of the hardy characteristics of these dwarf Lilly pillies.  The leaves are slightly smaller than Minor and are darker in colour.  The most interesting feature of Acmena “Cherry surprise” is the new foliage which is a rich burgundy colour.

These plants hedge very well and have a nice compact nature.

“Cherry surprise” will grow in semi-shade to sunny positions and grows in most soils.  The flowers are very small and the fruit do not seem to develop to any great extent, compared to Acmena smithii Minor.

“Cherry surprise” will grow in most temperate climates, but not suited to very cold areas with heavy frosts.  

Plants grow to around 3m and make great hedges from 1m up to 2.5m tall.  Pests are not usually a problem with this Lilly pilly. 

Acmena smithii “Allyn magic” Lilly pilly low hedge

Acmena smithii “Allyn magic” (pbr) is a great little Australian native Lilly pilly useful for making low hedges.  

“Allyn magic” has small brown/green leaves and has a nice compact habit.  Plants generally can grow to around 80cm tall,  but make a great hedge from around 40cm to 60cm tall.    

“Allyn magic” does not seem to have flowers, but has an unusual foliage colour which makes up for it.   The new growth is a reddish brown colour. 

In regard to pruning, it can be done any time of year with this plant.   Give the plant a prune now and then to shape it early, however give it time to grow out again.   

This plant can be a little slow growing, so it is probably worth letting it develop a bit before regular pruning begins.   Once you have reached your chosen size and shape all you need to do is give it a light regular trim to keep it neat.

“Allyn magic” plants grow best in full sun, however they can take shade for part of the day.   Best soil types are loams, sandy loams and sands.   They can grow in clay soils, but grow slowly.   Best climates are sub-tropical, temperate and warm temperate.   Avoid areas with heavy frosts.

Acmena smithii “Allyn magic” seems to be very easy to grow, the plant does not need much care.   

One thing that is impressive about this little hedging plant is it seems to have resistance to any sort of pest attack.   It is relatively drought tolerant and long lived.   

Fertilising is important as this plant can be slow growing, but can improve with some fertiliser.   Use a slow release fertiliser in spring and autumn or a general purpose Australian native fertiliser around the base of the plant in spring and autumn.   

This is an excellent hedge plant for low hedges and once in shape only needs a light trim to keep it looking good. 

Lilly Pilly – Acmena smithii tall hedge

Continuing on with our best hedging plants we have from the Lilly Pilly family.

This variety has been grown successfully for many years as a tall hedge from 1.5m up to 5m. 

It is an Australian native subtropical plant, but will grow in more temperate climates also.  Used extensively in Sydney and NSW.  Normally fast growing.  

One advantage of this plant as a hedging plant is it does not seem to get the Lilly Pilly Psyllid insect which attacks some Lilly Pilly plants. 

Many new improved varieties becoming available.  Many of the new varieties are smaller and based around the dwarf variety of Acmena smithii called Acmena smithii minor.

Lilly Pilly also makes an excellent pot plant if privacy screening. Read here to learn more.

Bush Christmas hedge (pbr) – Syzygium Lilly pilly

“Bush Christmas” is a variety of Lilly Pilly available as a hedging plant.  It has been around for a few years now and has been quite popular. 

It can grow into a shrub of 3m, but makes a great hedge from 40cm up to 2m+.  It can be a bit slow growing to create a tall hedge, but for lower hedges is good.  The new foliage in winter and spring/early summer, is a rich red colour.  

Best to grow in full sun, but they will take some shade. 

Lilly Pilly Psyllid can affect them in some areas, damaging foliage, so check with your local nurseryman regards this.  Organically rich, well drained soil is best. 

Fertilise in spring and autumn for more vigorous growth, or use a liquid fertiliser once a month or so.  Suited to subtropical, temperate and warm temperate climates.  Bush Christmas will grow in most soils.  

Lilly Pilly - one of the best hedging plants

This is Part 3 of our detailed article into the Best Hedging Plants for the home garden. Please see below for the other Parts.


The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 1)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 2)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 4)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 5)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 6)

The Best Hedging Plants: Our Ultimate Guide (Part 7)

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