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

One of the best hedging plants - Pittosporum "Golf Ball"

We have more beautiful Bottlebrushes for you to consider as we continue with our best hedging plants.

And if you have a particular passion for plants like the NZ Christmas Bush, see our article on Growing Metrosideros Hedging Plants.

Callistemon “Perth pink” medium hedge plant

If you are looking for a tough screen plant with pink flowers then Callistemon “Perth Pink” could be the plant for you.   

The great thing about this Australian native shrub is its small size.   Many Callistemon bottle brush plants can grow over 3m, but this one only grows to around 2m tall.    It also has a compact shape and makes a reasonable hedge, the new foliage in spring and autumn is a pink colour.  

Pink bottle brush flowers develop in spring and sometime in autumn. This Callistemon grow best in well drained soils. If you wish to keep the flowers for each season keep your pruning to just after flowering, then the plants should flower again the following season.  

As this Callistemon only grows to a small size, many gardens do not prune it and let it grow as an informal screen.  

Best climates for “Perth Pink” are temperate, Warm temperate and Mediterranean climates.  In Mediterranean climates the plant will need a bit of summer watering in summer to keep it looking good.  Best soils are any well drained soil and they do well in sandy soils. The best position in the garden is full sun.

To care for your Callistemon “Perth Pink” plant it in with a good planting mix and use some native slow release fertiliser. Make sure you stake the plant to assist in good root development.  

“Perth pink” grows quite quickly and a small dose of Australian native fertiliser in spring and autumn will create strong growth and flowering. 

Pest problems are minimal with this plant, it may get the odd Caterpillar and in areas under unusual situations it could get soil “Curl Grubs”, which is indicated by thinning foliage.  This is an easy care native plant that will live around 15 years.

We have already examined a number of the Callistemon family of hedge plants in this guide. Please click here to read our thoughts.

Callistemon “Taree pink” screen & hedge plant

Callistemon “Taree Pink” is a medium growing Callistemon shrub that makes a good screen and hedge plant.  

Callistemon “Taree Pink” is known for its excellent flower display in spring and summer.   It is covered with deep pink bottle brush flowers for an extended period. The new growth in Spring has a pink ting and adds to the colourful display of this plant.  This is one of the best hedging plants to choose if you want an impressive array of flowers.

“Taree pink” grows to a height of around 3m and is fairly upright in the early stages.   It makes a good tall screening hedge to place on the back fence or along the edge of a large block.   

The best time to prune this shrub is after flowering, this allows the plant time to flower again, which it sometimes will in autumn.   Plants recover well after a good hack-back and bush up nicely, becoming quite compact. The new growth is quite soft to the touch.  

Various birds are attracted into the garden by this shrub, namely Honey Eaters, Wattle birds and parrots.   The best climates for this plant are temperate, warm temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean regions.   Additional watering will be required in Mediterranean climates in the middle of summer.  

For the other regions these plants are normally drought tolerant and tolerant of moderate frosts.   The best soil types are sands right through to clays.   They can grow in fairly moist spots, but not swampy soils.  

The best spot in the garden is one which receives full sun for most of the day.

To care for your Callistemon “Taree pink” plant with a good planting mix and use some native slow release fertiliser. Stake the plant to protect it from winds and help create a strong root system.  

These plants will grow quite quickly in good conditions.   The best time to fertilise is in spring and autumn with a native fertiliser.  

There are no major pest problems with this species, they can get attacked by Caterpillars in Spring on the new growth.   “Curl grubs” could create problems when the plant is under water stress in dry periods, but generally these are not a problem.  These plants will live around 20 years.

Callistemon viminalis tall hedge plant

The last of the bottlebrushes to feature amongst our best hedging plants is Callistemon Viminalis.

If you have a very large block or rural property and require a tough windbreak or tall screen plant have a look at Callistemon viminalis.  

Viminalis is the original species from which many other garden Callistemon plants have been developed.  It is a small tree which grows naturally in north eastern Australia. Some of the larger growing variations of this tree are “Dawson river weeper” and “Prolific”.  Both these varieties will grow to around 5m and around 4m wide.   

The major advantages of these plants are their ability to adapt to various soil and climatic conditions and the long flowering periods.

Callistemon viminalis will grow in almost any soil type form sand through to heavy clays. They can take extreme dry conditions or very wet soil conditions for extended periods.   They grow thickly and have a strong root system.   

Pests do not seem to trouble them.  Viminalis will grow quickly and live potentially up to 50 years.  These plants are very low maintenance plants once grow in the right environment.  

In regard to hedging and screening “Dawson river weeper” and “Prolific” have slightly different attributes.  

“Dawson river weeper” has a broad weeping habit and is suited to growing out in an open position.  The natural rounded, weeping shape of this plant is better preserved, so it is not really suited to being a trimmed hedge and the eventual size limits pruning eventually.   

“Prolific” is slightly more upright and does not weep in the same manner.    It is more suited to pruning and trimming if required, however it must be shaped in the early stages.  “Prolific” is used extensively on Golf courses and by councils as a screen plant.   It is also commonly used as a street tree or parkland plant.  

In situations where “Prolific” is used as a large hedge it is usually pruned back once a year, or every couple of years, to maintain a compact habit. Pruning is best done after flowering.

The flowering times of Viminalis can vary, in some areas it will flower in spring and autumn.  In other areas it will just flower in summer, it is possible that the prevailing climatic conditions will impact on the flowering times and volume.  

Viminalis has red bottle brush flowers and the flowering is quite spectacular, you can imagine how fantastic a 5m hedge, 30m long, covered with vibrant red flowers looks! The resulting flower drop can be a bit messy, with masses of stamens being dropped on the ground, but when grown in the right situation this is not an issue.  

Best climates for Callistemon viminalis are temperate, warm temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean climates.   The only growing issue that viminalis has is with areas with cold winters, heavy frosts can damage stem tips, but plants usually recovers in spring.   A better variety of areas with frosty winters is Callistemon citrinus “Endeavour”, which we will speak about next. 

If you love native birds on your large block or farm, having a shrub line of Callistemon viminalis will provide a great food source for Honey eaters, Parrots and Wattle birds.

To care for your Callistemon viminalis “Dawson river weeper” or “Prolific” plant it into a good planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser.   As these plants grow into small trees, it is best to stake them as they can break off in strong winds when saplings. Early shaping at this stage is not normally required at this stage if the plant has been correctly grown in the nursery.  

Avoid young plants which have broken off and are branching in an unusual manner, it is very hard to get them back into shape.  Fertilise in spring and autumn for the first years, after this, these trees usually look after themselves.

Pests do not seem to be a problem with Callistemon viminalis. However some years you may get the odd infestation of caterpillars which will damage the foliage.   This is normally develops due to climatic conditions and the pests generally move on after a few weeks.  

One of the best hedging plants - Melaleuca viminalis usually known as Callistemon viminalis, an ornamental shrub in the family Myrtaceae, endemic to Australia. Commonly referred as bottle-brush.

Pittosporum “Golf ball” (pbr) low hedge

We have already introduced one Pittosporum (“Silver Sheen”) as one of our possible best hedging plants. Click here for more information.

With a name like “Golf ball” you would think that this little plant is something you could knock around the backyard with a stick, but it is actually a great little plant for making low hedges.   

Pittosporums are best known for being fast growing and having lush green foliage and this little hedge plant is no different. It has small, soft, lime green foliage which is glossy and compact.  Pittosporum “Golf ball” makes a good low hedge of around 40 to 50cm tall.    

Pittosporum “Golf ball” has no flowers and is generally a very easy care hedge plant. One of the best features of this plant is the fast speed of growth. However, it may not live long in some situations and potentially may only live around 8 to 10 years.  

Pruning is quite easy as the stems are thin.   A rechargeable hedge trimmer would make easy work of trimming a “Golf ball” hedge.  Pruning can occur at any time of year, however the best time is in spring, when new growth develops. 

Pittosporum “Golf ball” can withstand some dry spells, but under extreme heat and dry conditions it seems to die back.  As a result it is better suited to areas with good soil and moisture (or irrigation) to grow best.   The best climates are temperate, warm temperate and subtropical areas.   Best positions in the garden are full sun.

To care for your Pittosporum “Golf ball” plant it with a good soil improver and some general purpose slow release fertiliser.   Water the plant well for the first few months.  

Fertiliser creates a lot of new growth, so use a general purpose fertiliser in spring and in autumn.   Liquid fertilisers are also good and should be applied in the growing season only.   If you are finding that your “Golf ball” is not thriving, give it some Seaweed tonic as the roots sometimes need a kick start in soils lacking organic matter. 

Major pests problems for “Golf ball” are aphids which always seem to attack the new growth in spring. Also scale insects which are found along the stems. Soil borne “Curl grubs” can eat out the roots,  but this can be hard to find. Look for closely for damage, usually indicated by sections of the bush dying back for no reason.   

Loropetalum chinense “China pink” medium hedge

Loropetalum chinense “China pink” is a pretty, medium shrub which creates beautiful hedges.   The foliage is a rich purple colour and masses of bright pink flowers develop in spring and sometimes autumn.  

If you are looking for something colourful to grow as a hedge then “China pink” may be top of your list of best hedging plants.   

“China pink” is best suited to creating low to medium hedges.   A hedge from around 80cm up to 1.5m is common.   Plants are fairly low maintenance and constant pruning is not normally needed.   Pruning is best done after flowering.  

These plants only really grow in spring and autumn in most areas. In areas with cool winters they will almost stop growing and drop some leaf.    In areas with mild winters they maintain good foliage colour, but growth is still only moderate.  

So, maximise growth in the spring by fertilising with a general purpose garden fertiliser.    

Loropetalum plants like rich organic soils which are around 5.5 pH (acid).   Good moisture is important for strong growth, but once established these plants seem to be drought tolerant. Plants can be a little slow to establish in the first few years, but take off quickly once a good root system has developed. 

“China pink” withstands light frosts.   Best climates are Temperate and Warm temperate climates.   Best positions in the garden are full sun to part shade. Plants are very long lived and could live up to 50 years.

To care for your Loropetalum “China pink” plant it into a well drained rich soil.   pH is important for maintaining good foliage colour and flowering.   You can use a slow release fertiliser for acid loving plants or a dose of Azalea, Camellia fertiliser in spring…to maintain good soil conditions.  

In areas which have naturally acid soil, with good rainfall, these plants normally look after themselves. Pruning is best done in spring, after flowering, but can be done at any time of year if required.

There do not seem to be any major pest problems for Loropetalum “China pink”.   However, aphids have been known to attack new foliage in spring and autumn. 

Loropetalum chinense rubrum, China Pink in the park - one of the best hedging plants

Calliandra “Powder Puff” hedge plants

If you looking for a fast growing hedge with a tropical look, the Calliandra “Powder puff” may be the right plant for you.   Calliandra is a genus of plants from Central and South America which are quite adaptable and will grow in a variety of soils and climates.   

Most Calliandra garden plants grow from small shrubs of around 1m, up to small trees of around 5m. The leaves are pinnate and the flowers are fluffy and numerous covering the plants in late spring through to autumn.  

Generally these plants are known as “Powder puffs” due to the shape and texture of the flowers.   There are pink, red and white flowering forms of these shrubs. 

Calliandra plants will grow best in subtropical, warm temperate and temperate regions, which do not get frosts.    They will also grow in Mediterranean gardens with extra watering in summer.    Calliandra plants are frost tender and will drop leaf after a moderate frost event.  

In warm climates Calliandra plants will stay evergreen all year, in areas with cooler winters plants will lose some leaves, but plants generally are not damaged.   Calliandra shrubs can grow very quickly in good conditions and are a strong plant with few pest problems.

Calliandra shrubs will grow in most soils from sandy (with some organic matter) through to clays.   They do, however, require good drainage.   Calliandra plants prefer acid soils and are generally grown in coastal regions with mild climates (away from salty winds).  

Pruning is best done in late winter, but can be done at any time in most warm climates.  There are a number of Calliandra shrub varieties available from retail nurseries, suitable for low to tall hedge plants. 

To care for your Calliandra plant, plant with a good organic planting mix, use a slow release fertiliser. Stake larger shrubs, this assists in good root development.  

Water these plants well. Once established Calliandra do not usually need extra watering in climates where they grow,  however in drought times even a little extra watering will help this plant prosper.   

Callianda respond very well to pruning during the growing season and can grow quickly,  they can be pruned into a formal hedge, but will require regular pruning to maintain shape.   Callianda make a good informal hedge with a prune now and then. 

Pruning creates very thick growth and it is advisable to maintaining pruning at least a couple of times a year as Calliandra plants become ‘leggy’ if not pruned. 

Calliandra respond very well to fertiliser during the growing season (not winter), but generally fertilising is not required.   Any general purpose organic or granular (NPK) garden fertiliser is fine for Calliandra.  

The only pest problems that Calliandra seem to get are Caterpillars in spring, which generally are not a problem.   Plants may drop some leaf during a frosty spell, but generally regenerate in spring.  Avoid areas with excessively wet soil or which gets inundated with water.  

Most of the larger growing Calliandra shrubs will live for around 30 years. 

Spiraea “May bush” flowering hedge

Spiraea “May bush” looks spectacular when in flower.  This is enhanced further when it is grown on-mass as a hedge or screen plant.  

The plant is totally covered with white flowers in spring and is unforgettable once you have seen it.  The main variety grown in gardens is Spiraea cantoniensis “Lanceata”, a plant from China.   There is a pink form and a yellow form, but the white flowering variety is the strongest grower and best flowering.   Flowering usually lasts for around 1 month.   

Spiraea “May bush” has a weeping habit and sends out arching stems.   “May bush” is not suited to being a neat formal hedge and is better used as an informal hedge.  

Some gardeners do prune their “May bush” regularly, however they lose flowers in the process.  A prune once a year after flowering is better and will keep the plant more compact and is usually all that is required. (and you will still get flowers the next spring!) . 

“May bush” grows from around 1m up to 1.8m tall and is bushy.   It is important to have enough space for this plant to fill out as it does have a broad habit and requires a garden of around 1.2m wide (or wider).  

“May bush” is commonly used along a driveway or up a fence line as a decorative hedge or screen plant.   It looks best in cottage, country and mixed gardens. 

The best climates for this plant are Temperate, Warm temperate and Cool temperate.   In some warmer areas it will stay evergreen almost all year and in areas with cold winters it will drop all leaf.  It is a great shrub to grow in inland areas which get hot summers and cold frosty winters.   “

May bush” seems to be very drought tolerant, but will get stressed under very dry conditions, but usually recovers well.  “May bush” will grow in almost any soil including most clays as long as they are well drained.   Best position in the garden is full sun.

To care for your “May bush” plant it with some good organic matter planting mix.   Use a slow release fertiliser when planting.   Water well to establish. Once established “May bush” will look after itself.  If you ever need to seriously cut your “May bush” back to make space, it will cope and you can cut them back hard.   They are very easy to grow and they quickly shoot back again in spring.  

In regard to fertiliser they are best fertilised in spring after flowering.   Generally fertiliser is not required, but it will create masses of new growth if good water is available at the same time. Use any organic or granular NPK fertiliser.  

The only pest problems that “May bush” seems to get are caterpillars in spring, but these are generally not a major problem. 

Spiraea May Bush - one of the best hedging plants

Olive tree tall hedges

Bringing up the rear in this post on the best hedging plants is the humble olive tree.

Many people gardening in dry areas often ask the question if Olive trees make good hedges, and the answer is yes!  

They grow well not just in dry areas, but in temperate, cool temperate (without snow), warm temperate and of course Mediterranean climates.    Olive trees are a very versatile plant and make good tall hedges of around 2.5m and taller.   

The foliage is small, hard and grows quite compact once pruned. There are also very few pests that attack Olive trees.  Olive trees are best suited to growing as tall hedges or screen planting.    On larger blocks they are commonly grow to around 3m as screen hedges.  

If you decide to keep your Olive plants as a hedge it is important to prune them regularly as they can grow quite quickly once they are established.   If they are not pruned regularly or at a least a couple of times a year, they can grow out of shape and start growing thick stems.  

So, start shaping them once they are nearing the size you want. Once the plant has developed a good frame-work it will sprout lots of new growth which are easy to prune off, if pruned regularly. 

The most commonly used Olive trees used as hedges is the Olea Europea, which are the fruiting type.  There are many fruiting varieties, but basically they all look similar when grown as a hedge.   If you prune regularly you will not get many olives developing, if any.  If you want a productive olive hedge you will have to get your pruning timed well.  

Generally you would have to prune soon after fruiting, this will give the plant time to develop flowers for the following season.  It is likely that pruning this way will still reduce your crop,  but at least you should get some fruit.   Remember that olives must be specially treated before being consumed – this is why they are always purchased in a salt brine. 

The best soils for Olive trees are virtually any soil which is well drained.   Avoid areas with bad drainage as plants will only suffer.  Olive trees will withstand extreme heat and dry and also moderate frosts. Consequently, they are a great plant to grow if you need something tough.  

In Mediterranean areas they are commonly used as productive wind breaks on farms and large blocks.   Once grown as a tree they usually grow around 5m to 6m tall and about the same wide.    The best growing positions are full sun.   Olive trees can live hundreds of years.

To care for your Olive tree hedge, plant it with a good planting mix.   Use a slow release fertiliser, this will help plants establish quickly.   It is important to stake olive trees and develop a good shape in the early stages.  

When purchasing your trees look for nice upright growth to create a tall hedge.   For medium hedges it is worth pruning the hedge at an early stage to get branching occurring around the base.  Growth usually occurs in spring and autumn and these are good times to fertilise with any general purpose garden fertiliser.   

Water your trees well till the roots have developed and usually after this the olives will look after themselves. Pests are not usually a problem with Olive trees, although they can get spider-mite in shaded spots.

This is the 7th part of our definitive Guide to the Best Hedging plants. Please see below for more advice.

And if you’d like to know all about citrus plants, click here for our Citrus Guide.


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)

Tips for Growing Garden Hedges

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