A native of southeastern Australia, this Christmas bush is a small tree or tall shrub that has bright carmine red flowers at Christmas time in its native land. Like poinsettas, each “flower” is actually the calyx that enlarges and takes on the role of colorful petals. The plant grows in open forests and rainforests but have been used in gardens for many years and several good cultivars are available that vary in leaf color or size and color of the “flowers”. The “flowers” and foliage are also popular as cut flowers. Because plants vary greatly in the color intensity of the “flowers” they are usually propagated by cuttings rather than seed.

Type: Small tree or tall shrub

Outstanding Feature: “Flower” color at Christmas in southern hemisphere

Form: Rounded when young becoming pyramidal when mature

Growth Rate: Fast

Bloom: Clusters of inconspicuous white flowers appear in October; as petals fade, the calyx slowly enlarges and turns carmine red by December, lasting until April.

Size: 15-30’ H

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained

Fertilizer: Slow release fertilizer annually

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Care: Prune to shape

Pests and Diseases: Root rot can be a problem if soil is not well-drained.

Propagation: Seeds; cuttings.

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By Karen