The bold, usually blood-red flower heads are held above striking foliage, shining like beacons in the bush during spring. The type that most people know is Telopea speciosissima, the New South Wales waratah, and its hybrid forms.
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.
Position Part sun is best as only a few waratahs tolerate full or afternoon sun. Protect from wind. To ensure good airflow around plants, avoid crowding.
Soil 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.
Care Keep waratahs moist but not wet during hot or dry periods. Mulch well with an organic material such as a leaf litter. Avoid root disturbance. Feed in spring with a suitable native plant fertiliser.
Pruning After flowering, trim the canes back by half their length or more. Established plants can be trimmed back to the swollen base of their trunks, called a lignotuber, to bring on new growth.