Grow these easy-care small shrubs for cheerful colour in the winter garden.
Abutilon (Chinese lantern)
This is a relative of the hibiscus and flowers all year round. Pruning is recommended to keep them bushy as they can become lanky. A full sun position is preferable, but they will also flower well in part shade. Keep them mulched and well-watered, but avoid over fertilising as this can result in prolific foliage at the expense of flowers. Lightly prune to shape at the end of winter once frosts have passed.
This winter-flowering shrub is excellent for ‘Christmas in July’ celebrations. A traditional yuletide favourite in the northern hemisphere, in Australia these subtropical beauties are tricked into flowering at Christmas by artificially reducing their lighting. Although usually only available from garden centres at Christmas time, poinsettias strike easily from cuttings so if you see one flowering beautifully in a neighbour’s yard, ask for a cutting or two. Native to Mexico, the poinsettia is well suited to most Australian climates. Don’t apply fertiliser while they are in bloom. Instead wait until spring when flowering has finished, give them a good prune and then a feed with Searles Kickalong Fruit & Flower Organic Plant Food. The stems ooze a white, latex sap which can cause allergies so be careful when pruning. The actual flowers are insignificant. The showy, red display is actually from brightly coloured bracts. Traditionally red, poinsettias are now available in every shade of pink, orange, apricot, bronze, white and yellow. Plant it in full sun for best flowering. Learn more about Festive Poinsettia!
Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’
This close relative of the poinsettia, flowers all year round and is excellent for creating highlights against other garden flowers or foliage with its profuse, white blooms. Like the poinsettia, the blooms are actually not flowers, but bracts. Growing into a mound-shaped bush about 1m x 1m, it can be pruned if desired, during the warm months. Plant it in full sun for best flowering. It requires little water once established.
Marmalade Bush (Streptosolen jamesonii)
This native to the Andes creates a riot of colour throughout the year with its orange-coloured blooms. This old favourite in Aussie home gardens is very easy to grow and needs little water once established. It’s also great for attracting birds and butterflies. Tolerant of light frosts, it prefers a mostly-sunny position and performs best with regular watering and feeding. It is easily grown in a pot of quality potting mix like Searles Premium Potting Mix. Also available is the compact variety ‘Ginger Meggs’ which grows to about 1m x 1m in height.
This is a weeping shrub up to 2m tall that will light up the garden in late winter and spring when it becomes covered
in white flowers. It flowers well in full sun or part shade, but does best in part shade. Give it a well-drained soil and water during very hot, dry weather. Tip prune to encourage bountiful blooms. This is one of the most spectacular of the Australian native tea trees and also tolerates frost well.
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