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

Bottlebrush - Callistemon - one of the best hedging plants

Join us as we continue to investigate the best hedging plants:

Grewia “Lavender Star” hedging plant

You may not of heard of the Grewia “Lavender Star”, but it is a plant with many excellent features for creating medium to tall hedges.   

It has been used as a garden shrub for many years and has proven to be a very strong growing and easy care hedge plant.   It has dark green foliage, with thin leathery leaves around 7cm long.  Mauve star like flowers cover the plant during the warmer months and flowering can occur almost all year in some climates.

The plant looks rather tropical looking and is best suited to areas with mild winters. 

The interesting feature of this hedge plant is the various heights it can be grown too. This versatility makes it one of the best hedging plants. It can be kept to as low as 1.5m tall or can be grown up to 4m.  It actually grows quite quickly after the first year or two, however it can take awhile to get up to a very tall hedge.   

The foliage grows very thickly and the stems branch nicely after pruning to form a typical rectangle hedge shape. Pruning maintenance is pretty easy and once the plant is in shape it only develops thin outer branches, so is suited to trimming with an electric hedge trimmer.   

Pruning will be required around three times a year, regular trimming will create a very neat hedge. 

If you have a clay soil, where you find it hard to get anything else to grow then this plant may save the day.  It will grow in clays and actually grows very well. The most important thing is that the clay is well drained, or at least dries out quickly.  In warm climates Grewia “Lavender Star” will grow in almost any soil, as long as the soil is well drained.   

Best climates are temperate regions with mild winters, warm temperate and subtropical regions.   Avoid areas which get frosts as the foliage will be damaged and leaf drop will occur. Major growth period is in spring and summer and plants grow rapidly when fertiliser is applied.  

Grewia “Lavender Star” is drought tolerant when grown in appropriate climates.  Best positions in the garden are full sun, but semi-shade should be fine in some warm climates.

To care for your Grewia “Lavender Star” plant it with a good planting mix and some slow release fertiliser.   This plant can grow quite quickly under good conditions.  The best time to fertilise this plant is in spring with some general purpose NPK garden fertiliser.  

Stake the plant in early stages, as they can snap off in strong winds.  Grewia is a strong grower after the first couple of years and generally does not need much care. Pruning is best done in spring or autumn, however plants can be pruned at any time of year if required.

We don’t know of any major pest problems that affect Grewia “Lavender Star”, however we have seen aphids on new growth in early spring.  These don’t normally create any issues with the plants growth and can be easily fixed with a spray now and then of Pyrethrum.  

Grewia “Lavender Star” lives a long time and potentially around 50 years.  

Callistemon “Great balls of fire” hedge (pbr)

And so we find ourselves with one of Australia’s most popular, best hedging plants – the Callistemon (bottlebrush) in all its varied glory.

Callistemon “Great balls of fire”  (pbr) is a pretty unforgettable name for a plant, but the plant is called this for good reason.  

“Great balls of fire” is a “great” hedge plant and the new foliage does look like “flames of fire”.  Like most Callistemon plants, “Great balls of fire” is very hardy in all sorts of soil conditions and also drought tolerant.   This makes it an easy to grow and a versatile plant for most Australian gardens.   

Callistemon “Great balls of fire” is an excellent low to medium hedge which need minimal care.  As a hedge, “Great balls of fire” is usually grown from 60cm up to 1.5m tall.    Although it does not need regular pruning in order to develop the attractive new growth and a nice shape, a trim every two months is suggested. 

The best climates for this Callistemon are subtropical, warm temperate and temperate climates.   The best positions in the garden are full sun.  Callistemon “Great balls of fire” will grow in almost any soil, sandy right through to clay soils. However, in very wet soil conditions this plant will suffer, so it is best to plant in well drained soils.  

It is important to shape this plant in the early stages to create a neat hedge and then regular trimming will maintain a nice hedge form.  

To care for your Callistemon “Great balls of fire”,  plant it with some organic matter to improve the soil and use native slow release fertiliser.    This plant prefers full sun locations and well drained soils.   Good watering for the first few months will ensure good root development.  Electric hedge trimmers can be used on this plant once a good hedge shape has been developed. 

Pests are not usually a problem, however soil borne “Curl grubs” can do root damage in some situations, slow growth will usually result.  Fertilise in spring with a native slow release or native granular fertiliser.  

Callistemon “Great balls of fire” can potentially live around 25 years.  Pop it on your list of the best hedging plants.

Callistemon “Wildfire” medium sized hedge plant

Callistemon “Wildfire” is one of the better bottle brush plants suited to growing as a medium to tall hedge. This Callistemon will normally only grow to around 2m tall and has a fairly upright growth which makes it more suited to standard residential blocks. The leaves also tend to be smaller and new growth is quite soft to the touch.  

Just like its larger cousins Callistemon “Wildfire” has beautiful bottle brush flowers in late spring and summer.   This variety has bright red flowers and attracts native birds into the garden.  If you would like the plant to develop flowers it is best to only prune after flowering or in early Autumn. 

Like most Callistemon plants “Wildfire” is hardy, but it does not have same durability of some of the larger growing varieties.   It will require better soils and more mild conditions, particularly more moisture in hot dry periods.   

“Wildfire” will grow in most temperate, warm temperate and some subtropical regions. It will also grow in Mediterranean regions with some extra watering in summer. 

Best soil conditions to grow “Wildfire” are any well drained soil, heavy clays are generally not the best soil to grow “Wildfire”. Full sun positions are best, however semi-shade positions are okay, although the plant may grow a little more sparsely. 

“Wildfire” is easy to grow as a hedge and prunes quite easily due to the smaller size of the plant.   Generally a prune three or four times a year keeps it neat.   Many gardeners choose not to the prune this variety regularly as it maintains a good shape naturally.

To care for your Callistemon “Wildfire” make sure you pick a spot with good drainage and water regularly to start.   Plant with a good planting mix and use native slow release fertiliser. It is important to stake these plants when planting, you may like to remove the stakes after the first year or so.   

Fertilising is not as important as with some other shrubs, but a application of fertiliser in spring and autumn with a general purpose Australian native fertiliser, will speed growth and strengthen the plant.   Generally once the plant is established it will not need any extra watering except under very hot dry conditions.

Pests are not a problem with “Wildfire” although it may be attacked by caterpillars and some scale insects.   This Callistemon will live around 15 years and longer.

Callistemon viminalis - one of the best hedging plants

Callistemon “Hanna ray” tall hedge

Callistemon “Hanna Ray” is a taller growing Callistemon suitable for large blocks for screening and hedging. They can be used on small sites, but will need regular pruning to stay neat.  

Most Callistemon viminalis “Hanna Ray” shrub lines are around 3 to 4m tall.  However we have seen them kept down to hedges of around 2.5m.  

Callistemon viminalis “Hanna Ray” Bottle brush are extremely hardy plants and can grow in almost any soil. They are drought tolerant and frost tolerant for most temperate regions with mild winters. 

Callistemon “Hanna Ray” is also quite tolerant of coastal conditions, although not usually suited to first line plantings in high salt wind areas.   In regard to strong winds they are a very good choice if you have strong winds, where other plants will not grow and make a good wind-break. 

If you choose not to prune your “Hanna Ray” constantly you will be rewarded with an excellent flower display of bright red flowers in summer. Native birds are attracted to the flowers, particularly Wattle birds, honey eaters and Parrots.   

“Hanna Ray” will develop a weeping habit if left unpruned and can grow fairly wide.  They are best suited to an open space on a back fence or as a screen planting in a larger garden.  The flowers can make a bit of a mess, but this is not normally an issue in a native style garden and adds to the effect.

To care for your Callistemon viminalis “Hanna Ray” plant them with a good planting mix and use some native slow release fertiliser.  It is important to stake these plants when planting, this will help them to grow up instead of out, and help protect them from strong winds.  

Pruning can occur at any time of year, but the optimum time is after flowering, regular pruning even if just once a year will improve the shape and density of the shrub. Fertilise in Spring or Autumn with a general purpose Australian native fertiliser.

Pests are not normally an issue with “Hanna Ray” although they can get attacked by caterpillars, most times in spring. The plant usually can deal with any pest issues and spraying is not normally required.  Callistemon “Hanna ray’ is a very low maintenance and dependable shrub, plants can live around 30 years in good conditions.

Callistemon “Wilderness white” tall hedge

Red bottle brush flowers are very common in the Callistemon bottle brush family, however Callistemon “Wilderness white” is a little different.  

“Wilderness white” has true white coloured flowers, so it is fresh, bright and unusual.   In many ways the plant looks similar to Callistemon “Wildfire”, but grows to around 3m.  

The growth is fairly upright, but the leaves droop.   Callistemon “Wilderness white” makes a good screen plant, but is not usually grown as a neat, trimmed hedge.  Most gardeners trim the front of the hedge now and then just to keep outward growth in check. 

Callistemon “Wilderness white” is quite hardy and drought tolerant once established.   It will grow in most soils, even fairly wet soils.   The flowering occurs in late spring or early summer and sometimes again in late summer.   Birds are attracted into the garden by this Australian native plant. 

If you like the flowers of this plant it is best to prune only after flowering in late summer or early autumn.   This gives time for the plant to develop new flowers for the following season.  

The flowering is quite attractive and even the spent flowers dropping on the ground look good.  However, some gardeners prune regularly and as a result flowers do not develop.  Due to the white flowers this Bottle brush is an attractive inclusion in mixed gardens and adds something unusual to native landscapes.  

“Wilderness white” has a close relative called “Wilderness red” it grows in exactly the same manner, but has bright red flowers and makes a nice effect when grown nearby (particularly when they are flowering at the same time). It’s worth considering both of these Bottle brushes when evaluating the best hedging plants for your garden.

Best climates are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and some subtropical regions. Best positions are full sun, although this variety does well in semi-shade also.

To care for your Callistemon “Wilderness white” plant with a good planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.   Staking is important when planting as this plant tends to grow quickly in the early stages. Staking helps with good root development, especially in windy areas.  

Fertiliser will help this variety grow strong and produce more flowers, so an application of Australian native fertiliser in spring and autumn is worthwhile.

Pests are not usually an issue with this variety of Callistemon.   “Curl grubs” could be an issue in areas close to bushland and this would be indicated by a quick thinning of the foliage, particularly at the top of the shrub.  

“Wilderness white” will normally live around 25 years.

If plants like the Callistemons appeal to you, take a look at our piece on Growing Metrosideros Hedging Plants.

Callistemon “Kings Park Special” tall hedge

In the gardening game, horticulturists use a term to explain a good plant: “it’s a great plant selection“.  A good selection, being a plant that has been carefully developed and meets all the best criteria for growing in gardens.  “Kings Park Special” is a great selection and it is hard to find fault with it.  

When you want a hardy tall screen plant to grow along a fence line or along a back fence, take a look at “Kings Park Special”.  But, be aware it is a larger growing screen plant growing to around 4m. 

Probably the most interesting aspect of this shrub is the flowering which occurs on mass in late spring and can occur again in Autumn.   The flowers are large red bottle brush flowers and are very attractive to native birds, particularly Honey eaters.  

“Kings Park Special” has a fairly upright habit which makes it good for screen plant use.   It can be hedged, or trimmed regularly, but looks much better with infrequent pruning.   Pruning is best done directly after flowering.   A prune once a year will keep the plant compact.   

Callistemon “Kings Park Special” is quick growing and will grow in almost any soil, including clays.   It is drought tolerant and tolerant to moderate frosts.  Heavy frost can damage new growth, but for most regions of temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical climates it flourishes.  Best garden positions are full sun.

To care for your Callistemon “Kings Park Special” plant it with a good planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser.   It is important to stake the plant to promote good root development, remove the stake after about 1 year.   Water regularly to establish, once the plant has had this early care it will look after itself. 

“Kings Park Special” responds well to fertiliser and plants can be fertilised in spring and autumn with an Australian native fertiliser.  

Pests are not usually a problem with “Kings Park Special”.   Under unusual situations “Curl grubs” could damage roots, but do not normally kill the plant.   Caterpillars can attack the foliage in spring, but plants normally recover quickly and spraying is not normally required.

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Callistemon “Captain Cook” medium hedge plant

Moving forward with our review of the best hedging plants we have one of the most popular Callistemon for creating medium sized hedges – the Callistemon “Captain Cook”.  

“Captain Cook” has many advantages as a hedge plant, particularly a fairly upright habit and small leaves.  Most Callistemon viminalis “Captain Cook” plants will grow from 1.5 to 2m tall.  This makes it a great plant to grow as a hedge along a fence line or for a low visual screen. 

Flowering occurs in late spring and early summer with the plant being covered with red bottle brush flowers.  Some people find the flowers a bit messy, but consider that the flowering only occurs for part of the year and generally most of the spent flowers drop onto the garden.  

Birds are also attracted into the garden by this Callistemon, particularly Wattle birds, Honey eaters and parrots. 

“Captain Cook” can be pruned to make a fairly neat hedge and is one of the better Callistemon for this purpose. However, they can grow quite quickly so usually have to be trimmed once every two months or so. 

Generally if they are shaped well in the early years they will maintain a good shape and need only pruning once or twice a year and still look attractive, although a bit shaggy. Pruning is best done after flowering. 

Callistemon viminalis “Captain Cook” is a very tough plant, being drought and frost tolerant, which is one of the reasons it is so popular as a garden plant.   “Captain Cook” will grow in temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical climates.  

Best positions for this plant are in full sun.   Best soils are almost any soil, including clay soils, they can take wet spots, but do better in drier soils.

To care for your Callistemon viminalis “Captain Cook” plant with a good planting mix and use some slow release fertiliser. Staking is important for good root development, stakes can be removed after the first year or so.  Water well for the first 3 to 6 months, after this the plant should look after itself.  

They are a very low maintenance shrub and hedge plant.  Fertilise if required with Australian native fertiliser in spring and autumn. 

The only pest problems you may get with your “Captain Cook” plant is caterpillars and in some situations “curl grubs” in the soil. 

“Captain Cook” will live around 15 to 20 years.

the Captain Cook Bottlebrush - one of the best hedging plants.

Callistemon “Little john” low hedge

If you want a tough, low maintenance and drought tolerant low hedge, then check out Callistemon “Little john”.   

“Little John” is one of a kind, there is not a Callistemon like it. It is short, squat and rounded in shape, growing to just over 1m tall.   The flowering is also very long, with bottle brush flowers developing on and off throughout the warm part of the year.  

The flowers are tiny red bottle brushes and look very cute. The foliage is small tight and hard.  

You can expect a hedge grown of “Little john” to reach around 1m tall, however some grow taller. “Little john” is best suited to growing as an unpruned hedge line.  It is not really suited to constant close trimming, although some gardeners do. 

Because “Little john” has a compact habit you usually do not need to keep it constantly pruned and a prune once a year should be enough.

When planting your “Little john” hedge it is best to plant them fairly close together, so they knit well and avoid gaps in the short term.   

Once “Little john” plants grow older they can get very woody and pruning becomes difficult so shape them in the early years to create a neat frame work.  You should only need to prune once the plant is nearing the expected hedge height. 

Plants can be slow growing, so an application of fertiliser in spring will speed things up. 

Callistemon “Little John” will grow in temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and some subtropical climates.   Best positions are full sun.  

Best soils are well drained. “Little John” will grow in clay soils, where some other shrubs will not, but growth is slower.  

In some situation is worth purchasing advanced “Little john” plants as they can take some patience to grow, but they do live a very long time, around 40 years in good conditions.

To care for your Callistemon bottle brush “Little john”, plant with a good planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser.   Staking is usually not required.   Water well for the first three months.  After this these plants will normally look after themselves.   

“Little john” can be slow growing so an application of native fertiliser in spring and autumn is a good idea.   Hard pruning is best done in Autumn after summer heat has passed. 

Generally there are no pest problems for “Little john”. However they can get an insect called a “webbing caterpillar” which creates webs. These caterpillars are a pain and we suggest spraying for these as the plant looks terrible, but will generally fight on.   

We have also noticed that in some situations “Little john” will get troubled by soil borne “Curl grubs”.   They usually only become a problem when in large numbers, most times “little john” will die back in spots when the roots are damaged by these insects. See your local nursery for treatment of these.   

Callistemon citruinus “Endeavour” tall hedge plant

We have spoken at great length about the hardy nature of Callistemon plants as the best hedging plants, but, in our opinion Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour” would be the most hardy of them all.  

It is however not suited to every garden, although it will grow in almost any climate (a part from locations with snow).  As a result of this hardy nature, “Endeavour” has hard foliage and short woody stems which can prove hard to prune.  

It also grows into a rounded shape that takes up a lot of space, so it is rarely grown on small blocks.  Most citrinus “Endeavour” shrubs will grow from 4 to 5m tall. 

The hardy features of this hedging shrub make it very popular with golf courses, councils and large property owners.  

Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour” will grow in almost any soil, including wet spots and dry clay soils.   They can take extremely hot conditions or cool frosty winters, which make them a great plant for growing in inland areas.  

“Endeavour” also seems to grow well along coastal areas and can take salt spray, although not really suited to growing right on the beach.  

Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour” is very useful as a large windbreak or screen planting.   The foliage and stems are very dense and compact,  however after many years the outer fine branches can weep slightly.  

As a result of its dense habit “Endeavour” does not really need pruning.  However, it can be pruned if required.  Pruning is best down after flowering.   

Callistemon “Endeavour” develop red bottle brush flowers at various times of year, but mostly during the spring, summer and autumn. 

Best climates for Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour” are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical regions.   Best soils are almost any soil (as long as it is not a puddle of water!).   

“Endeavour” is both drought tolerant and frost tolerant.   Plants grow at a good pace after the first couple of years and live a very long time, possibly over 50 years.

To care for your Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour” plant it with a good quality planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.    Stake the plant to prevent it breaking off in strong winds.   Fertilise in spring and autumn with Australian native fertiliser.  

“Endeavour” generally will not need any extra care after they are established.   We don’t know of any major pest problems which cause issues with this plant.

Close up of Callistemon Citrinus in a Mediterranean garden - one of the best hedging plants

This is the finish of Part 6 of our in-depth look at the Best Hedging Plants. Please see below for further posts.


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 3)

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 7)

Tips for Growing Garden Hedges

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