The Metrosideros group of plants are an excellent choice when you need a hedge that will act as a visual screen. If you’ve got an unsightly view or an eyesore that you wish to hide or simply wish to ensure privacy, then you should consider the Metrosideros family of shrubs. Growing Metrosideros hedging plants can be a rewarding pastime.
We have compiled a guide (including photos, wherever possible) to a number of Metrosideros shrubs suitable for making hedges and visual screens.
Reasons for choosing Metrosideros
- – Metrosideros are a group of plants which have been used extensively in gardens as hedge plants
- – They come in many various sizes and colours
- – Metrosideros are, on the whole, a very tough bunch of hedge plants and can grow in all sorts of climates
- – Most are drought tolerant, tolerant of moderate frosts and most importantly salt tolerant
- – They can withstand strong winds and can live for decades
- – Metrosideros have strong roots systems which enable them to grow in sandy through to clay soils with low nutrient levels
- – Metrosideros look great in all sorts of garden styles, but come into their own when grown in a tropical setting
- – They are a mainstay of many Coastal gardens, but will also grow well in many inland areas (with mild frosts).
Related reading: We have put together a detailed Guide to the Best Hedging Plants. Please follow the link to find out more.
When growing Metrosideros hedging plants, many people choose the Metrosideros thomasii.
It has many excellent features that make it great for growing into hedges and tall visual screens.
Probably the most outstanding feature of this plant is its tolerance to extreme coastal conditions, notably strong salty winds. It is a commonly seen planted in backyards along coastal beaches and headlands, used mainly as windbreaks.
Metrosideros Thomasii is mainly used as a tall hedge or screen plant as they can grow to around 5m in good conditions.
However, most Metrosideros hedges are kept to a height of 3m. Plants can grow fairly broad if not pruned so pruning is important, although it does not need to be done constantly.
Many Metrosideros thomasii hedges are only pruned a couple of times a year, although this is usually a hard prune as this is a fast growing plant.
Metrosideros thomasii has fairly broad leaves for a Metrosideros, which gives them a rather tropical look. The leaves are roundish and lime green colour.
This plant has an unusually long and attractive flowering period. Dark red pompom like flowers develop in summer and flowering occurs on and off for around three months.
Metrosideros thomasii grows best in temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical areas. It has some tolerance to light frosts.
Metrosideros Thomasii is one of the more drought tolerant Metrosideros plants. Generally these plants will withstand long periods of drought once established, however when young they can wither, if left to dry-out.
The best soils are sandy soils, but they also grow well in deep heavy soils. Heavier clays tend to reduce growth some-what but plants will struggle on… when other plants have given up. Drainage is important as Metrosideros plants generally require good drainage.
Metrosideros Thomasii will live potentially around 50 years and longer.
To care for Metrosideros thomasii:
Begin with a good planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser. Metrosideros do very well in sandy soils with organic matter and so, no matter what soil you have, mix in some organic planting mix when planting your Metrosideros.
When planting Thomasii it is important to stake your plant as they can snap off in winds when young. If you would like to grow a tall Metrosideros Thomasii hedge let it grow up a bit before pruning. It is important to prune to create a good shape, but this should be done when the plant is well established. Pruning the plants when saplings has a tendency to make the plant go out, more then up.
Insect pests are not a problem for Metrosideros thomasii and they are a very low maintenance plant once established. Fertiliser is not usually needed once the plant has grown a root system as these plants will grow in quite impoverished soils.
However, a good dose of any general purpose fertiliser in spring particularly will create good strong growth.
Metrosideros Thomasii is a native plant of many pacific islands, notably Tahiti, Samoa and Hawaii.
Metrosideros “Cream Ridge”
This is a very colourful Metrosideros which makes great medium to tall hedge plants.
Metrosideros “Cream ridge” has variegated cream and dark green leaves. The foliage really stands out in the garden and particularly so as the young leaf stems are a vibrant red. When grown as a hedge plant, this is a very attractive and bright plant to have in the garden.
Metrosideros “Cream ridge” can be a bit variable in height but most grow around 3m tall. The leaves are small and roundish and grow in a very compact habit once pruned.
The plant tends to grow fairly upright and can be grown into a thin hedge if required. It is commonly grown along a fence line as a screen plant as it has very thick, dense foliage.
Metrosideros “Cream ridge” also produces red flowers in summer. Pruning can be done at any time of year, but is best done after flowering, particularly if you wish to have flowers for next year. This variety is a pretty easy plant to maintain and little care is required once it is established.
Like most Metrosideros, “Cream Ridge” grows well in coastal locations close to the ocean.
The best climates to grow “Cream Ridge” are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical regions. The best soils are well drained sandy and loam soils, most well drained clays are okay, however heavy clays will reduce growth. The best positions in the garden are full sun.
The Cream Ridge variety is quite drought tolerant in good soils and can withstand light frosts.
To care for your Metrosideros “Cream ridge” plant:
Begin with a good organic planting mix and slow release fertiliser. You may like to stake this plant in windy situations. Water well to establish as plants usually grow at a good rate and need little care once roots have developed.
Pests are not usually a problem for Metrosidros “Cream ridge”.
Fertilise in the first couple of years with a general purpose fertiliser. Fertilise in spring or autumn for best results.
Metrosideros Excelsa is a larger growing Metrosideros that can be grown as a tall hedge.
It can actually grow into a tree, but has been used for many years as a tall hedge and screen plant. You would use Metrosideros excelsa as a hedge if you needed a very tall hedge or wind break.
It is also quite tolerant of heavy soils and even clays in salty Coastal regions.
There are newer dwarf varieties under various variety names such as “Springfire” and “Royal flame”, if you need a smaller growing plant.
The leaves are thick and leathery and dark green in colour. The stems can grow quite broad and develop into branches or trucks if not pruned, so pruning in the early stages is important to create a good hedge shape.
Once a hedge shape has been created hedging is usually quite straight forward, although the height of this hedge could be an issue. Regular pruning is important as Metrosideros Excelsa can grow quickly. Bright red flowers develop in summer.
Metrosideros Excelsa is a very tough plant in all sorts of situations and will grow in dry conditions or in soils which get inundated from time to time.
The root system is quite strong and extensive, so it is best on large blocks or farms. Best climates are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical regions. Metrosideros Excelsa will grow in almost any soil and flourishes best in full sun.
To care for your Metrosideros Excelsa:
Plant it with some planting mix, to give it a good start. Use some slow release fertiliser and stake the plant, particularly in windy areas. Pruning can be done at any time of year, but spring and autumn best.
There do not seem to be any pest issues with this plant. Fertilise in the early stages to get the plant established and then no further fertilising should be required. This plant will grow in very low nutrient soils.
Metrosideros Excelsa has been known to live over a century!
Metrosideros “Fiji Fire”
If you have a coastal situation and you are looking for a low to medium hedge, have a look at Metrosideros “Fiji Fire”.
Metrosideros “Fiji Fire” has good salt tolerance and drought tolerance. The foliage is dark green and the new growth is red.
The new red foliage creates a terrific looking hedge because as soon after the hedge is pruned new red foliage develops. Fantastic! This new red growth covers the plant and makes a great display.
The leaf of Metrosideros “Fiji Fire” are small and oblong which makes it great for creating a hedge.
Metrosideros “Fiji Fire” is variable in height and can be grown as a hedge from 1m up to 3m tall. Plants grow at a good rate under optimum conditions.
Plants are low maintenance and easy to trim once shaped.
The best climates for this plant are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical climates.
Although this plant has drought tolerance under average conditions, under extreme heat and drought it is important to do extra watering to maintain growth.
The best soils are good well drained soils. Loams, sandy loams and sands are best for this plant, avoid clays. The best positions in the garden are full sun.
To care for your “Fiji fire” hedge plants:
Plant them in well drained soil with some planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser. Water well to establish as once plants are established they usually do not need area watering, except under very dry conditions.
Pruning can occur at any time of year for Metrosideros “Fiji Fire”. “Fifi Fire” is easy to prune with an electric hedge trimmer.
Fertilise in spring with a general purpose garden fertiliser. Plants live around 20 years.
Metrosideros Excelsa “Moon Maiden”
Metrosideros excelsa “Moon Maiden” is an interesting Metrosideros because it has yellow flowers in summer, rather than the red of most other Metrosideros plants.
These yellow flowers are quite large and numerous. The plant is a strong grower but does not usually grow to any great height with plants generally capping out at about 3 or 4m tall.
“Moon Maiden” makes a good tall screen plant or hedge plant. The leaves are grey-green and glossy and the shrub can be pruned regularly if required. An excellent plant for coastal gardens which are belted by strong salty winds. “Moon Maiden” is low maintenance and drought tolerant once established.
The best climates for Metrosideros “Moon Maiden” are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical.
This plant will grow in most soils, although growth will slow in heavy clays. The best position in the garden is in full sun.
To care for your Metrosideros “Moon Maiden” plant it with a good planting mix and use slow release fertiliser.
As is common when growing Metrosideros hedging plants, stake your plant, particularly if you are in a windy area. Water well to establish, once established these plants will usually look after themselves. During very hot dry conditions water well to maintain foliage cover, as plant can drop some leaf due to heat stress.
Pruning can be done at any time of year, although spring and autumn are best. There do not seem to be any pest problems with this plant.
Fertilise for the first couple of years. These plants do not normally need additional fertilising once established.
Metrosideros Excelsa “Parnell”
Metrosideros excelsa “Parnell” is a fairly upright variety of Metrosideros which grows to a height of around 5m.
“Parnell” is usually kept as a hedge from around 2.5m to 4m tall. It is a strong growing plant suitable for sandy or heavy soils.
The foliage is grey in colour and leathery and, as with most Metrosideros, red flowers develop in summer.
“Parnell” is a handy plant to grow as a windbreak on larger Coastal properties with strong salty winds.
The branches can grow quite thick, so it is worth shaping this plant once it has developed to a reasonable height.
Once given a good hack-back this plant usually responds by producing heaps of new growth which makes regular pruning easier.
The best climates for Metrosideros “Parnell” are temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical climates.
“Parnell” will grow in most soils, including clays and is drought tolerant and tolerant of moderate frosts. The best position in the garden is in full sun.
To care for your Metrosideros “Parnell” plant:
Begin with a good quality planting mix and use slow release fertiliser. Stake your plant if you live in a windy area.
Water well now and then, once established this plant should need little care.
Pruning is the only major activity usually required, this can be done once or a number of times per year. The best time to prune is after flowering, most times in autumn. However, it will not harm the plant should you choose to prune”Parnell” at any time of the year.
There do not seem to be any major pest problems with “Parnell” but you should fertilise for the first year or two to establish it.
These plants do not need much fertiliser once their roots have developed. Metrosideros “Parnell” can live around 50 years.
Metrosideros Tahiti is a dwarf form of Metrosideros which normally grows to around 1.5m tall.
Often Tahiti hedges are kept to a height of around 1m tall. Metrosideros Tahiti is a tough easy care hedge plant and perfect for coastal areas as it is drought tolerant and tolerant of coastal salty winds.
Metrosideros tahiti will grow best in full sun positions in the garden. The plant grows fairly upright which makes controlling growth quite easy.
Although it can be kept as a neat formal hedge, it does not need constant trimming to create a reasonable looking hedge.
The flowering in spring and summer is quite a show, with red fluffy flowers covering the plant. In some climates, this plant will flower on and off through the whole year.
The best climates to grow Metrosideros Tahiti are temperate, warm temperate and subtropical. It will also grow well in Mediterranean climates so long as it receives some extra watering during summer.
Metrosideros Tahiti will grow in most soils, from sandy through to well drained clays. Heavy clays will stifle growth somewhat.
Pruning can be done at any time of year, if required. However, if you want flowers it is best to give the plant a break for a few months so that it has time to develop flushes of flowers.
Metrosideros Tahiti will live around 15 years.
To care for your Metrosideros Tahiti:
Begin with some organic planting mix coupled with some additional slow release fertiliser. In windy situations stake your plant.
Water the Tahiti well until it has established a strong foundation.
Pests are not usually a problem with this plant. Fertilise in spring or autumn with a general purpose NPK garden fertiliser. (This plant responds well to liquid fertilisers also.)
Fertilising should be done each year with this plant as it increases leaf development. This is especially important if you are trimming it regularly into a neat hedge.
Should you trim your Tahiti regularly you will likely limit the flowers you see. However, even if it does not flower in abundance, this is a useful and practical low hedge.
Metrosideros “Dalese” (pbr)
Metrosideros “Dalese” is a good looking Metrosideros shrub which makes very attractive small hedges.
Metrosideros “Dalese” has small lime green foliage which grows in a very compact habit. The plant responds well to pruning and makes an attractive hedge from around 50cm up to 1m. Small red flowers develop in summer.
Although this is a great looking Metrosideros hedge, it has the disadvantage of not being as tough and drought tolerant as other Metrosideros plants.
However, in the right climate and situation, it a great little hedge plant that will enhance a garden. It makes a nice boarder to grow in front of a patio or up a driveway.
Metrosideros “Dalese” grows best in a well drained fertile soil, which maintains good soil moisture. In hot dry summers it will need good watering now and then to get through to autumn.
An irrigation system would be a bonus for this plant and dripper line would be excellent. Once the plant has reached a couple of years old it seems to be more drought tolerant, possibly because the root system has branched out.
The best climates for this plant are temperate, warm temperate and subtropical. It will grow in Mediterranean climates, but will require summer watering to get through the long dry summers.
Best soils are well drained loams or sandy soils with organic matter. The best position in the garden is in full sun.
To care for your Metrosideros “Dalese”
Start as you so often should when growing Metrosideros hedging plants by planting it with a good planting mix and use a slow release fertiliser. Water well to establish.
If you find that your plant is developing dead outer stems in a dry summer, it could be a water problem. To regenerate plants give them a regular dose of seaweed tonic like Seasol and maintain regular watering (unless it rains).
Do not fertilise with NPK when plants are under water-stress (Seasol is fine though, as it is not a fertiliser.
Pruning can be done at any time of year, but it is best done in spring or autumn. Fertilise in spring.
This plant responds well to liquid fertilisers like Maxicrop or Thrive.