Leucadendrons – stars of the foliage world

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The Leucadendron ‘Jenny Butler’ (pictured in the vase) has lived in my garden for the last three years; quietly establishing itself and putting down roots and largely being ignored. But recently it has mushroomed into a glorious resplendent vision complete with ruby red tipped stems that looked like flower petals. I felt compelled to pick some stems for a vase and marvelled that I could have overlooked this astonishing plant for so long. It’s just the kind of stem I love in a vase; architectural and a bit wilful. I love the way the stems bend carelessly this way and that yet they remain rigid and sit so well in a vase. Their vase life is extraordinarily long so you can recycle the stems week to week if you like.

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The Leucadendron is a member of the Proteaceae Family and it’s worth knowing that they have very delicate root systems. When watering make sure you give them a good drink once a week rather than a dribble every day. This will ensure deep root growth and a healthy, strong plant. When planting don’t feel compelled to tease out the roots. They will not appreciate you fiddling about so simply remove from the pot and plant out. Give them a light prune once a year to encourage new growth and extra blooms.

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Don’t be tempted to pamper these luscious lovlies as they won’t thank you for it. Fiercely independent they are happy in poor soil that’s slightly acidic and they loathe fertilisers. You may need to protect them from hard frosts (although my ‘Jenny Butler’ has been fending for itself quite happily uncovered) but there is no need to protect them from being nibbled by insects. It seems that insects turn their noses up at leucadendrons although they are attractive to bees.

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This is a Leucadendron ‘Floridum Pisa’ which I have positioned in the Cutting Garden. It’s tall and leggy with a finer leaf and a greener colour. They love to feel the wind through their hair – I mean leaves(!) – as they are coastal plants (originally from South Africa). The wind has been howling around that unprotected paddock so I can only imagine he has been in seventh heaven! As well as being a very tactile plant they are also available in a variety of colours which are really pronounced once the winter chill sets in.

I also chose Leucadendron ‘yellow tulip’ which is a large 2×1.5 metre bush with creamy yellow tulip shaped blooms in the winter months and Leucadendron ‘jack harre’ with flaming red star shape blooms with a cream throat. This is a more compact bush at 1×1 metre. I think they’ll be very happy here as foliage for my Cutting Garden.

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9 thoughts on “Leucadendrons – stars of the foliage world

  1. You are so lucky to be able to grow Leucadendron, it’ s absolutely gorgeous and impossible here in England. I have seen it on Tresco in the Scilly Isles which has a sub tropical climate.
    It is wonderful for flower arranging, there’ s nothing quite like it is there?.

      • I have had a quick look and it is available to purchase here – apparently it is frost hardy to -6, so I am sure it would grow in the warmer southwest but possibly might be too tender for the colder winters where I am in the southeast.

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