Plant Profiles Grevillea Hybrids

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There are a number of hybrid cultivars in the Grevillea family. Mostly they fit into one of three groups, based on the type of flower they bear. Each group is based on a limited range of parent species.

The three groups are:
*  the banksia group
*  the rosmarinifolia group
*  the toothbrush group.

Banksia group
This group has Grevillea banksii as the main parent species. The

leaves are dissected into narrow segments and the flowers are dense bottlebrush-like spikes, which are crowded toward the upper side of the spike. Some examples are:
*  ‘Coconut Ice’, 2m tall with bright green foliage and red-pink flowers.
*  Robyn Gordon – the most widely cultivated grevillea, ferny foliage with deeply lobed leaves and striking terminal clusters of bright pink-red flowers
*  Pink Surprise – huge pink flower clusters throughout the year and ‘fishbone’ type leaves
*  Winter Sparkles – 6 metres tall, bearing yellow-orange flowers in winter
*  Misty Pink – beautiful silvery foliage with equally spectacular long pink, cream-tipped flower clusters.

Rosmarinifolia group
This group includes most of the earlier hybrids. Some of these cultivars hybridise easily and may become invasive under the right conditions. They have small, smooth-edged leaves and spider-type flower clusters.
*  Poorinda Firebird grows to about 2 metres. It has abundant clusters of scarlet flowers and is suited to most well-drained positions. It is frost-hardy.
*  Clearview David is a dense, bushy shrub with narrow, dark green, prickly leaves. The striking flowers are a vivid red with white, produced in clusters from July to November. It is suited to a range of well-drained positions and responds well to pruning.
*  Poorinda Queen is highly favoured by birds and has spectacular pale orange to apricot flowers throughout the year.
*  Poorinda Constance is a large shrub (2.5 metres) with soft foliage and clusters of bright red flowers through most of the year. The peak flowering season is from July to October. It can be pruned to maintain a smaller size if desired. It is another variety that attracts birds.

Toothbrush group
These hybrids are derived from species that display the ‘toothbrush’ flower type. The flowers are densely crowded and all turn upwards forming an elongated brush. In some varieties, the flowers bend back sharply as well. This group is highly variable as regards leaf type and habit.
*  Boongala Spinebill is a beautiful, spreading shrub. It has cascading branches and new foliage is a lovely coppery red. The toothbrush flower clusters are a deep crimson.
*  Bronze Rambler is a vigorous groundcover. It may spread to 4.5 metres and has dissected leaves and purplish flowers. New growth has an attractive bronze tint.
*  Ivanhoe has dense foliage. It is a vigorous grower reaching up to 3 metres with a spread of 4.5 metres.
*  Fanfare (also known as Austraflora Fanfare) is a prostrate plant with dark red flowers and pink styles. It will spread to 5 metres.

Some cultivars don’t really fit into any of these groups.
*  Long John grows to 3 metres and has pink and red flowers
*  Orange Marmalade has smooth-edged leaves which have silky hairs on the under surfaces
*  Poorinda Ensign also has smooth-edged leaves and densely clustered bright pink flowers
*  Sid Reynolds grows to 2.5metres and has pale reddish pink flowers.

The biggest problem the home gardener is likely to face is not whether to purchase a grevillea cultivar or not, but which to choose from the many beautiful varieties available.

More about this author: Judy Evans

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