Putting on a magnificent show of colour in the bushland along the east coast of Australia, this stunning evergreen native shrub kicks off in spring with cream-coloured flowers. After this, the calyxes turn rusty red – just in time for the festive season. Reaching about 5m high x 1.5m wide, Christmas bush is easy to grow in your garden. For best flowering results, plant in full sun. Each year, harvest a few branches covered in blooms and display them in vases or along the centre of your Christmas table.
‘Tis the season for all things silver
Eucalypts are beautiful, wildlife-attracting and occur in bushland right across the country. Commonly known as gum trees, eucalypts come in a wide-sweeping range of shapes and sizes for you to choose from – ranging from towering trees to compact shrubs. Look for varieties with silver-grey foliage – an Aussie bush-themed Christmas table just isn’t complete without them!
Lovely Christmas lilies
With their graceful crisp-white trumpets, glowing yellow stamens, lush green foliage and enchanting perfume, it’s no wonder that Christmas lilies have been adored for generations. They are a fabulous accent for your summer garden or pots, plus if you mass plant them in clumps – you’ll achieve incredible impact in the garden. From time of planting, Christmas lilies take 12-14 weeks to bloom, so look for potted bloomers now or buy bulbs and plant them next season. Best thing is – they’ll flower every year. Top tip? Snip a few flowers and arrange them in a vase so you can enjoy their scent indoors and out.
Nothing says Christmas like conifer!
The weeks leading up to Christmas Day are the ideal time to get your hands on a potted conifer – tall or small – as garden centres start to stock up for the festive season. Choose one that you love, slip it into a woven basket and add a few charming decorations. You can shuffle it indoors for the Christmas period then shift it outdoors until next year.
Pretty-up with poinsettia
Bring brilliant colour to your front door setting, or just about anywhere around your home, with the magnificent poinsettia. As with conifers, you’ll find your local Bunnings garden centres will have potted poinsettias in stock as Santa’s arrival draws near. Here’s an idea – buy a few potted specimens and wrap each with brown paper and a festive bow. You can use them to decorate for Christmas Day, then send them home with your guests as gorgeous gifts.
The masses of vibrant kalanchoe flowers are ideal to jazz up a landscape in a flash. This bold succulent flowers profusely in winter and its blooms last for many weeks. And how's this for a bonus? Kalanchoes are technically perennials, so you'll get more than a year out of them. Grow it: Kalanchoe likes full sun or part shade. Keep moist in warmer weather, and water less frequently in winter. Feed with a slow release fertiliser and remove deadhead spent flowers.
This relative of the edible quince, is a wonderful shrub that delivers delicate colourful single or double blossoms in late winter or early spring. Its white, pink, scarlet, or apricot blooms look glorious as they flower on leafless stems, and they make excellent cut flowers, so you can enjoy them in the home, too. But be aware, they're rather thorny, so position them away from pathways or doors. If planning to grow your own, flowering quince grows best in a sunny spot. To encourage bushy growth, feed annually in spring with well-rotted manure or a slow release fertiliser and if the plant requires rejuvenation, cut back older branches by one-third.
For a bright pop of scarlet or white, go for the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.). Unlike many cacti, the Christmas cactus has no nasty pricks, so it's a breeze to handle and pot up. Its attractive flowers appear in late autumn and winter and look best when grown in tall pots. Plant in part shade in a free-draining potting mix. Pinch back after flowering to encourage more blooms and feed with a slow release fertiliser in spring.
Red and white cyclamen
Elegant heart shaped leaves and dainty butterfly shaped flowers make cyclamen a fantastic winter bulb. Its flowers vary from crimson-red to pink or white, and look simply magical floating above its grey-blue foliage, which often features marbled silvery patterning. Cyclamen thrive in sun or part-shade and should be regularly watered during the growing season. However, do not water from the top of the pot, as wetting the flowers and foliage can encourage fungal rot. Instead, sit the pot in a saucer for 10-15mins, before removing and allowing excess water to drain. Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser at the beginning of the growing season.
A choice flowering shrub to add a touch of sweetness to the garden is the charming camellia. Its flowers are mostly pink, red and white, but there are also striped and bi-coloured varieties. Their flowers also come in miniature, small, medium, large and extra large sizes and in single, semi-double, double and peony form. There's bound to be one you love! Camellias prefer full sun through to part-shade. Feed with a specialised camellia blend fertiliser, then follow up with a light feed of well-composted manure in late summer.
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