It’s that time of year again! And this plant truly brings in the season, adding a bit of Christmas spirit to your garden with its dainty little sepals resembling sparkling lights, dappled all over the branches.
Like bougainvillea and poinsettia, the petals of the NSW Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) aren’t the brightest and most beautiful part of this plant, instead the vibrancy comes from the sepals that enlarge after flowering and become bright and bold in colour. After flowering in spring, the tree gradually starts to decorate itself turning a stunning scarlet red just before Christmas.
But don’t worry – if you don’t live in New South Wales, there’s a Christmas bush for all areas of the continent. Victorian Christmas Bush (Prostanthera lasianthos) grows in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. South Australian and Tasmanian Christmas Bush Bursaria spinosa grows in all states except Western Australia. And the West Australian Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda), well it only grows in WA and is the largest mistletoe in the world!
To achieve the brightest red coloured sepals, plant your Christmas bush in a sun drenched spot. They work best in a bush garden setting, or as a screening plant, and their creamy white flowers attract native butterflies, moths and bees. To prolong their flowering season during spring, apply a good dose of specially formulated native plant food (such as Neutrog Bush Tucker fertiliser).
When cut, their pretty scarlet blooms are surprisingly long lasting – up to three weeks! Use a sharp pair of secateurs to cut the bottoms of stems at an angle and change the water regularly to prolong the life of your lovely bouquet.