Albany Woolly Bush

So many people search for my post about the Woolly Bush hedge in my garden that I’ve compiled all the information you need to grow your own Woolly Bush hedge.

Albany Woolly Bush in its natural habitat at Albany

The Albany Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus) is endemic to the south of WA around Albany and Esperance. It grows well in gardens and due to its tall, thick growth habit it’s particularly useful as a screening plant, whether you want to prune it into a hedge or grow a row of them. There are a few species of Woolly Bush but Albany Woolly Bush is the prettiest, it’s widely available in nurseries and requires little maintenance (if you have the space, pruning is not essential).

Cultivation

Plant Albany Woolly Bush in a sunny position with free draining soil, preferably sand. Some gravel added when planting will make a clay soil more free draining. If planting a row, space each plant 1m apart and add some non-phosphorous fertilizer (eg. sheep manure) before watering in well.

The best time to plant is late autumn and the winter rains will get them off to a good start. In the first summer they may need some watering (once or twice a week). Within a year the root system is established and Woolly Bush is drought and moderately frost tolerant. Further watering or fertilizer is unnecessary because Woolly Bush evolved with our dry climate and nutrient poor soil of coastal areas.

The shallow root systems of Albany Woolly Bush won’t cause problems with underground pipes or sewerage lines. In my garden an Albany woolly bush grows next to a gas pipe, irrigation solenoids and the frog pond.

When growing naturally in rocky coastal areas, the shallow roots grow between rocks to be anchored in high winds. If your garden soil isn’t rocky, high winds may fell a Woolly Bush. I don’t know how to prevent this other than planting another if it happens. Burying rocks won’t help, I think you’d need an excavator to dig deep enough for big enough rocks.

Albany woolly bush hedge in my neighbourhood

Pruning

Albany Woolly Bush will grow to 4m. If you don’t want that height, pruning is necessary a few times a year. If you don’t have the space and don’t want to prune, choose another species. Westringia makes a lower growing hedge (1-1.5m). There are a number of Westringia species both from WA and elsewhere in Australia. I have Westringia dampieri in my garden and its pretty white flowers look like rosemary.

Prune any time of the year, into the shape you desire. Within five years a row of plants will fill out to a box hedge with pruning.

The Woolly Bush looks a lot like a Christmas tree. Prune some branches in December and put them in a bucket of water for a Christmas tree, or decorate the Woolly Bush in your garden. Growing a Woolly Bush in a pot to bring inside at Christmas isn’t a good idea. The plant won’t stay small and doesn’t like indoor light.

Christmas tree of Albany Woolly Bush branches

Scientific name Adenanthos sericeus

Common name Albany Woolly Bush

Flower Jun–Apr

flower and foliage of Albany Woolly Bush

Albany Woolly Bush flowers are inconspicuous. Unlike other members of the Proteaceae family such as Banksia with showy flower spikes comprising hundreds of individual flowers [1], Woolly Bush’s single flower can blend into the foliage. Nectar feeding birds and insects find them easily and a Woolly Bush will attract wildlife throughout the extended flowering period.

native cockroach on Albany Woolly Bush in my garden

Growth habit tall shrub to 4m, ideal as a screening/hedging plant in cultivation

Florabase record http://florabase.com/browse/profile/1794

Albany Woolly Bush in my garden
=^.^=

Reference

  1. Powell (2009) Leaf and Branch: Trees and Tall Shrubs of Perth. 2nd ed. DEC: Perth

14 thoughts on “Albany Woolly Bush

  1. Hello,
    How wide does the wooly bush grow (if not pruned) ?
    I’m looking for something to grow in a narrow garden bed along a fence. But I don’t want to prune it all the time.

    • hi Stefanie, sorry for the late reply. you will have to prune a woolly bush in a narrow garden bed. it can grow 1m wide my hedge is in a 50cm bed next to a fence and it needs regular pruning

  2. Thank you for such an insightful and informative site. The only thing that worries me is the longevity of the Woolly Bush. It grows very quickly here on the Central Coast of NSW that I am worried that it will reach maturity then die as do some other natives such as wattles and Tree in a Hurry. Is that a problem for this lovely plant?

    • hi Vivienne, thank you for reading. woolly bush is fast growing and not particularly long lived. pruning a woolly bush will help it live longer because if let to grow tall strong winds may topple and kill it. woolly bush will live more that five years but not usually past 10yrs. i have one in my garden coming up to 10yrs old and its healthy and growing well. i hope it’ll continue into its 2nd decade, but i couldn’t guarantee it. a Eucalyptus or Corymbia will live decades. choose a smaller species if space is an issue

  3. Hi can the Albany Woolley bush leave sap on you that is really hard to get off because I read about it a bit more and it said it has sap on the bush is that true?

    • hi Alysha,
      i’ve never known Woolly Bush to have sap. i have 2 different types growing in my garden and when i prune them, there’s never any sap.

  4. Hi, I have a ‘Plantinum’ Adenanthos sericeus in a pot outside and it is not doing very well. I have some dwarf Albany ones and they are in the same spot and doing fine. As it is summer, although our weather here in Victoria doesn’t really show it at the moment.
    I’m unsure as to how much water to give them. I usually have a green thumb but this and kangaroo paws seem to be my down fall. I am shifting soon and they will then be put into the ground but at the moment they have to stay in the pot. I would like to keep them alive until I shift, any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

    • Hi Anita, sorry I’m late in replying. Water them every day if its not raining. As long as the potting mix is free draining, you can’t overwater Adenanthos. When was the last time you repotted the unwell plant? If more than six months, try repotting it with a potting mix for native plants. The fertilizer in the mix must be low phosphorous, but they do need fertilizer when growing in a pot.
      Cheers.

      • Thanks for your reply Clare. Before I got this I soaked the pot in a bucket of water and that seems to have done the trick. I had only bought them about two months ago. I’ve just spoken to someone who knows more about them than I do so I know a bit more now than I did. I’ve also a bronze one with lovely reddish tips.

  5. You can grow the,Woolly Bush. Sericeus in Launceston quite easily, now I’m trying one I haven’t seen before called Bronze gold. My love, of Woolly Bushes comes from being a sand groper and growing them in Perth. My Burmese cat adored playing in it to.

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