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.
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).
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 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.
Scientific name Adenanthos sericeus
Common name 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 , 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.
Growth habit tall shrub to 4m, ideal as a screening/hedging plant in cultivation
Florabase record http://florabase.com/browse/profile/1794
- Powell (2009) Leaf and Branch: Trees and Tall Shrubs of Perth. 2nd ed. DEC: Perth