How to grow waratahs at home
Given the right conditions, waratahs are a hardy and reliable plant. Check the labels of the plants you buy for any special requirements. There are a number of general rules of thumb that apply to all species.
Grow in dappled light or where you get morning sun rather than full sun that can singe the beautiful tutu-like bracts. Also protect from strong winds that can cause petal burn.
Frost-tolerant to about -2°C once established – after about 2 years.
Waratahs thrive in free-draining, preferably slightly acid soil, with material such as a leaf compost blended in. Don't plant into clay soil as they won't tolerate wet feet. Instead, create a raised planting mound with a suitable soil, or grow in a large pot. If your soil is heavy, grow in a raised bed or large container.
Start watering waratahs in spring and stop in late autumn when established making sure to avoid watering in winter when the shrub is dormant. To reach their full potential waratahs need plenty of water during their growing people (spring and summer) paired with low phosphorus native plant food.
Water well after planting, then at least twice a week in its first summer, even daily when it’s especially hot.
Keep waratahs moist but not wet during hot or dry periods. Mulch well with an organic material such as a leaf litter. Waratah's can be know to rot without proper drainage, be sure to also avoid root disturbance.
Keep your eyes out for pests, specifically the macadamia nut borer which appears in autumn to eat its leaves.
After flowering, trim the canes back by half their length or three quarters. Established plants can be trimmed back to the swollen base of their trunks, called a lignotuber, to bring on new growth.
Once your plant reaches 10 years old cut back the canes completely to the lignotuber (swollen base).
How big does a waratah grow?
Waratahs need room to stretch out their roots and with the right care, waratahs can grow up to the towering height of four metres and three meters wide. The NSW waratah grows as a large shrub up to 4m and produces its large inflorescences of many small individual flowers – supported by petal-like crimson bracts – for about six weeks in spring (later in cooler regions).
Is the waratah an Australian native?
Yes it is. There are few more iconic Australian natives than the stunning and instantly recognisable waratah. Its crimson flower head has been a major part of Australian arts and crafts since Federation and the 1900s, featuring everywhere from stamps and wallpapers to tea towels and being stylised as the NSW Government’s emblem. And, despite having a reputation for being difficult to grow in gardens, it’s so easy
to get the conditions right for it to thrive and just be magnificent!
Where do waratahs grow best?
The waratah grows naturally all along the east coast of Australia and in Tasmania. Most flowers are red and pink, and the size and shape vary according to the region. The most spectacular is the NSW waratah (Telopea speciosissima), which includes a creamy yellow variety known as ‘Wirrimbirra White’ and the vigorous hybrid ‘Shady Lady Yellow’.
There are several magnificent varieties of waratahs including Brimstone Starfire which can only be propagated by stem cuttings. Another is a yellow form of the Tasmanian waratah crossed with a New South Wales type. The hybrid varieties are more adaptable.
You may also like