But like anything that has such exquisite properties, it doesn’t come easy. They can die within months of you planting them. Don’t blame yourself, however. This perfection is achieved because of its pernickety nature.
Here’s how you can nurture these beauties to last in your garden for longer.
Create the right conditions
Boronias hate humidity and soil that retains moisture (clay).
Too much moisture in the air encourages soil-borne fungi that cause the lower stems and crown to rot. There’s little you can do once this begins and the plant will eventually wilt and die.
Too much moisture in the ground can cause root rot. Boronia roots are relatively shallow and, while they need watering, they don’t need it hanging around their roots as happens in clay soils.
- Lower the humidity around the base of your boronias with a layer of gravel or rocks. This helps keep the roots cool.
- Avoid the pooling of moisture around the roots by putting a layer of pea gravel at the base of the hole before you plant.
- Recent grafted boronias have developed some resilience and are available through specialist native plant nurseries.
Care for boronias
Best grown in warmer, coastal areas.
East or north-east under dappled sunlight, with protection from winds and afternoon sun.
Very well-drained, slightly acidic. Enrich with organic matter, well mixed in the soil but not too close to roots.
Water regularly; most boronias have weak and shallow roots that can dry out in summer. Keep water up when flowering begins, especially if winter has been dry.
Small amount of slow-release fertiliser after flowering has finished.
Regularly cut flowers to encourage new growth. Trim by about a third after flowering to keep it compact.
How to grow boronias in pots
Boronias are so finicky that you may need to consider them short-lived perennials. An alternative is to grow them in pots.
- Choose a pot that is at least twice the size of your plant, about 30cm.
- Opt for a terracotta pot as excess water seeps through the clay rather than lingering in the soil.
- Don’t use a pot saucer, but put the pot on feet so excess water drains away.
- Use quality potting mix with a couple of handfuls of slow-release native plant food.
- Place in a sheltered courtyard or balcony that gets a couple of hours of morning sun a day.
- Water and feed as you would if it is in your garden.
Care for cut flowers
The best boronia flowers for keeping in a vase indoors and filling your rooms with their wondrous perfume are the brown boronia (B. megastigma) and red boronia (B. heterophylla).
- Cut from bush when the flowers are starting to open out.
- Strip leaves from stems that will sit in water. Put leaves in a shallow dish so that, as they dry out, they release more of their perfume.
- Place in area free from draughts and out of direct sunlight.
- Change water daily.
- They are sensitive to ethylene so keep them away from fruit bowls.
Boronias are among the most perfumed of Australian natives. The deep and lingering spicy, citrusy perfume comes from the oils in the plant’s leaves, flowers and fruits.
Hold up the leaves to the light and you can see the tiny oil glands popping up like pimples. Boronias are members of the Rutaceae family, where citrus also belongs.
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