Down Under Plants

Many of our exotic plants and unusual plants come from the antipodes, in particular the eucalyptus, callistemon, banksia and tree ferns are quite unique. This page explores some of these plants that I have grown and come to love over the years, struggled with and fought with in our unsuitable climate, but nevertheless admired.

Acacia baileyana

Cootamundra Wattle 15 seeds җ
Acacia baileyana is the floral emblem of the small rural township of Cootamundra is a well-known Australian species, principally on account of its popularity in cultivation. Baileyana grows to a large bushy shrub or small tree, commonly reaching 5–10 m high, and is typically freely branching from 1–2 m above the ground, plants growing in dense regrowth stands tend to be somewhat spindly whereas in open sites they are more robust. The short bipinnate leaves are usually grey/green in colour, the flower heads are lemon yellow and arranged in elongated showy racemes. Cootamundra Wattle is an adaptable, fairly hardy species that is fast-growing, relatively short-lived, frost resistant to perhaps -5°C preferring cool, higher rainfall areas.

Acacia baileyana purpurea

Mimosa 15 seeds җ
Acacia baileyana purpurea  - a lovely blue/purple leafed form of the Cootamundra Wattle with clusters of yellow flowers in the spring. Maybe hardy to about -5°C

Acacia complanata

Flat Stem Wattle 15 seeds җ
Acacia complanata  is an unusual ornamental Acacia, “Flat Stem Wattle”, growing quickly into a large shrub or small tree, 3ft-9ft tall if you have the space! However it is fairly unique among wattles to flower from Spring to Autumn, bearing an abundance of large, yellow balls which emit a rich perfume. Frost resistant but unlikely to survive below -5°C.

Acacia dealbata

Mimosa 15 seeds җ
Acacia Dealbata produces the classic florist cut flower and also hardy to about -7°C. There is a beautiful 20ft specimen probably 10/20 years old growing happily in a front garden near Thorpe Park.

Alyogyne huegelii

Blue Hibiscus 10 seeds 
Alyogyne huegelii  often called the ‘Blue Hibiscus’ (it’s a close relative to the hibiscus) heralds from dry southern regions of Australia. Excellent for summer bedding in a south facing English border. It is really a perennial shrub to 10ft or more and given the right conditions could be over wintered indoors, but try growing it as an annual. The 12cm flowers are a lovely lilac blue.

Anigozanthus flavidus red

Anigozanthus flavidus red ' Kangaroo Paw' Pkt
These unusual plants can be cultivated in a greenhouse that has a minimum winter temperature of 10°C or they can be grown outside in mild, dry climates. Anigozanthus flavidus red grows from 3 to 4 feet high and spread up to 18 inches across. They need an acid, sandy, well drained compost. They also make excellent unusual long lasting cut flowers for flower arranging enthusiasts!

Banksia ericifolia

'Heath-leaved Banksia' 10 seeds җ
Banksia ericifolia, historically important as it was the first specimen collected by Sir Joseph Banks at Botany Bay in 1770, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Banksias in Australia, with large 12” tall striking spikes of yellow to reddish-orange flowers contrasted with small, linear, light-green to greyish-green leaves. It will develop into a large 4 metre high bush given a sheltered sunny position in an acid well drained soil. Frost tolerant but only hardy to about -5°C

Billardiera cymosa

"Sweet Apple Berry" Pkt
Billardiera cymosa is a twining plant carrying lovely pale blue, jasmine-like, starry flowers in spring and summer followed by showy snow white berries. Superb in a conservatory or sheltered frost free garden.Growing to approximately 2ft in height without support but higher if trained on a frame or fence this evergreen plant will grow in light shade or full sun.

Callistemon glaucus

Albany Bottle Brush Pkt җ
Callistemon glaucus  is the most commonly grown bottle brush previously called Callistemon speciosus. A semi hardy shrub tolerant to perhaps -5°C with large scarlet flowers and slightly larger leaves than the hardier species. Excellent though as a conservatory plant tolerant of heat and dry atmospheres and easy from seed.

Callistemon linearis

Narrow Leaved Bottlebrush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon linearis  is a lovely shrub with thin evergreen leaves and in summer long cylindrical spikes of scarlet bottlebrush flowers. Good for milder coastal regions in the UK where it will thrive taking moderate frosts to -8C. Needs a sunny protected position with well drained soil. My father has one planted in his front garden near Wembley where it has flowered profusely for many years without any protection and proved reliably hardy.

Callistemon Mixed

Mixed Bottle Brush Pkt җ
A Callistemon mixture of all our Bottle Brush seeds, some frost tender and others hardy. Colours include Red, Violet, White, Pink and Green

Callistemon pallidus

Lemon Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon pallidus  - an upright hardy shrub with slender spreading branches growing to a height of 3 m by 2 m. The fresh lemon coloured brushes present a pleasing contrast to the grey-green foliage. This frost-hardy plant will grow in moist situations in full sun or part shade and will also withstand moderate exposure to salt laden winds.

Callistemon rigidus

Hardy Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
'Australian Bottle Brush' I have included here some of the best forms of hardy and semi hardy varieties. Callistemon Rigidus and Callistemon Salignus Rubra have slightly smaller flowers than some of the more tender species, but well worth growing for an unusual shrub with masses of brilliant bright red flowers about 3” long in early summer. The seed is small, not difficult to grow, with a flowering plant in the second year if sown early. Callistemon Salignus Rubra is a more weeping and smaller variety. Captain Cook is a weeping large flowered form of Callistemon Viminalis but also reasonably hardy for milder areas.

Callistemon viminalis "Captain Cook"


Dwarf Weeping Bottle Brush Pkt җ

Viminalis is a cultivated weeping form of Bottle Brush but also reasonably hardy for milder areas. The seed is small but not difficult to grow and you should have a flowering plant in the second year if sown early. Captain Cook only grows to 1.5m making an excellent pot plant for an unheated conservatory if not planted out..

Callistemon violaceus

Violet Bottle Brush Pkt җ
Callistemon violaceus  is a rather special bottle brush, semi hardy to -5°C, with large violet/purple blooms. The picture is from a shrub grown from seed by us and the front page of the Australian seed section contrasts this flower with the more common scarlet.

Callistemon viridiflorus

Green Bottle Brush Pkt җ җ
Callistemon viridiflorus  - a very hardy bottle brush from Tasmania down to perhaps -18°C! Lovely lime green bottle brush flowers in late spring. The plant will grow to about 2 metres with glossy willow like foliage and prefers a hot sunny position.

Clianthus puniceus

Lobster Claw 10 seeds 
Clianthus puniceus are unusual scrambling woody shrubs from down under related to the pea family. Frost tender but fairly tough for over wintering in a cold greenhouse or conservatory. It produces highly attractive lobster claw type scarlet flowers in clusters in late winter early spring.

Clianthus puniceus Albus

White Lobster Claw 10 seeds 
Clianthus puniceus albus is an unusual scrambling woody shrub  from down under related to the pea family. Frost tender but fairly tough for over wintering in a cold greenhouse or conservatory. This very rare variety produces highly attractive lobster claw, pure white flowers in clusters in late winter early spring.

Cyathea dealbata


Silver Tree Fern Pkt 

Cyathea dealbata, also known as the silver tree fern or silver fern is a species of medium-sized tree ferns, endemic and symbolic to New Zealand. It can grow to heights of 10 m or more with a dense crown of long (4m) fronds that have a silver-white colouration on the undersides. This distinctive silver colouration has made them useful for laying along tracks for night walking. Once established, it will tolerate drier conditions but it does best when sheltered from strong winds and frost in a well drained shady damp position. For the UK it needs to be kept pot grown (which will also contain its ultimate size) and brought under glass for winter.

Cyathea medullaris


Black Tree Fern Pkt 

This is the largest Tree Ferns which will succeed with cool greenhouse treatment but not hardy enough for overwintering outside unless in the mildest microclimate with no or limited frost. The trunk and stem is covered in an intensely black fur, contrasting strongly with the deep green, leathery fronds. Spores germinate freely making very showy young plants in a couple of seasons.

Dicksonia antarctica

Hardy Tree Fern (Pr Pkt) җ җ
Dicksonia antarctica  is one of the most beautiful species of plant to come from the southern hemisphere within the tree ferns. Alas our winter climate is a little harsh for most tree ferns unless a micro climate and suitable winter protection can be established. They are true ferns and hence need shade and high humidity as well as clement winter temperatures. The hardiest is Dicksonia Antartica capable of managing -5°C to -8°C without protection although the fronds will burn and die back at these lows. However if the crown is suitably protected in winter they can survive much lower temperatures and the 5' to 10' fronds in early summer are breathtaking. For those of you living in warm coastal waters or in a protected suburban environment where shade and humidity can be maintained in summer along with mild winter temperatures, these are essential for your tropical garden. They take years to grow and therefore becoming protected in the wild as pressure grows for more garden plants worldwide. You can grow them from spores and although it will take time to grow a tree fern which develops a trunk, the smaller plants are extremely attractive as large ferns.

Dicksonia fibrosa


Golden Tree Fern (Pr Pkt) җ

Dicksonia fibrosa is a smaller species of the Dicksonia genus from New Zealand and easy to grow but not quite as hardy as Dicksonia antartica maybe to -8c. Ideal for the smaller garden in a suburban micro climate in Southern Britain.

Diplolaena augustifolia


Yanchep Rose 10 seeds 

Diplolaena angustifolia (Yanchep Rose) is a small bushy shrub from Western Australia that grows to about 3 ft tall. It has narrow olive-green leaves with dense rusty hairs on the underside. In late winter through early spring appear the pendant 1 1/2" wide flowers that have a double row of short greenish cream-coloured petal-like bracts and large brushes of pale orange stamens. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to light shade with little irrigation. Not frost tolerant this unusual and showy plant can be used in containers in a cold frost free glasshouse.

Erythrina crista-galli

Common Coral Tree 10 seeds җ
I have grown Erythrina crista-galli  on and off for years but it really needs a hot sunny conservatory to do well. Long terminal spikes of typical pea family bright red flowers. Tall plant flowering at 6ft+ but dies back to ground level in cold climates, watch out for the wicked thorns on the stems though! Easy to raise from seed and fairly fast growing.

Fynbos Smoke Primer

Fynbos Smoke Papers (Pkt of 5)

Many seeds can benefit from soaking in smoke impregnated water solution to simulate seed growth after natural bush fires in countries like Australia and South Africa. In particula Anigozanthus, Strelitzia and Protea benefit from this treatment enhancing the likely germination % but research suggests many other recalcitrent species can also benefit like Palms and Musa seed.

Cape Super Smoke Plus is an absorbent paper that is impregnated with fynbos-smoke-saturated water. The paper is then dried and sealed in a polythene packet. When dormant seeds require "smoking", a predetermined volume of water is added to the paper in a suitable container and the seeds are "smoke-primed" by soaking in the smoke-water solution for 24 hours. In order to have the maximum effect in breaking seed dormancy, a range of natural germination stimulators has been added to the smoke solution to overcome other forms of seed dormancy found in many species.

Each standard packet contains five papers, and 50ml water should be added to each paper. Each packet is thus sufficient to make up 250ml solution ( approx. 8½ oz. ) and enough to treat approximately 500 large seeds.

Grevillea banksii forsteri

Red Silky Oak 10 seeds 
Grevillea banksii 'Forsteri', known as the Banks' Grevillea or Red Silky Oak, is one of the most widely cultivated of all grevilleas and a parent of an increasing number of hybrids. Typically it is a large, spreading shrub to around 3 metres but smaller if pot grown. The silvery-green, much divided foliage complements the red flowers that are produced in large clusters at the ends of branches.  Flowering usually occurs in spring although it may flower for much of the year. G.banksii is a hardy plant for warm climates where it performs best in reasonably well-drained soils in full sun. Plants can tolerate light frosts but best under frost free glass in the UK for the winter.

Grevillea decora

Red Grevillea 10 seeds
Grevillea decora is a medium sized, upright shrub, 2.5m high but smaller if pot grown. Leaves are narrowly oval and a leathery greyish-green to bronze-red with densely hairy new growth. The flowers are bronze-red in colour borne in large, dense racemes up to a foot long. A colourful plant which does well in dry tropical areas as long as it has well drained soil but not suited to cold, temperate climates unless under glass.

Grevillea robusta - silk oak

Silk Oak 10 seeds
Grevillea robusta or silk oak is a large evergreen tree that makes a good pot plant with it’s soft downy pinnate leaves. Grows easily from seed with fast growth after germination.

Hardenbergia violacea

Purple Coral Pea  10 seeds  җ
Hardenbergia violacea is a very attractive tropical vine from West Australia that can tolerate frost to -5˚C when established but best as a conservatory climber where it loves hot dry conditions. Flowers held in racemes mainly in winter and spring, often creating a stunning picture, used in USA gardens in semi desert locations.

Hymenosporum flavum

Australian Frangipani 10 seeds
Hymenosporum flavum is native to Australia. The heavily perfumed, creamy-white flowers turn golden-yellow with time and are borne in panicles. Highly scented with a hint of citrus blossom hence its common name “Australian frangipani”. Once established it may tolerate a light to medium frost.

Lagunaria patersonia

Norfolk Island Hibiscus 10 seeds җ
Lagunaria patersonia  is an evergreen small tree or large shrub from Australia with gray/green leaves. The small hibiscus like flowers are pink fading to white and bloom in the summer to autumn.  Best in full sun, and quite adaptable to dry conditions, it is suitable for seaside conditions and will take temperatures down to about -4°C. Should make a useful dry conservatory large pot plant

Leptospermum scoparium roseum

Tea tree Pkt җ
Leptospermum scoparium roseum - a useful compact shrub to 2 m, leaves from 7 to 20 mm long. Masses of small coral pink flowers 1 cm in diameter occur in spring and summer covering the shrub. Hardy to about -7c

Melaleuca thymifolia

Honey Myrtle Pkt
Melaleuca thymifolia, closely related to Callistemon (Bottlebrushes), is one of the most widely cultivated members of the genus forming a small 1 metre shrub. It has beautiful, purple, feathery mauve/violet flowers in clusters on the older stems with a distinctive “claw” configuration. Needs good drainage coupled with regular watering to do well. It prefers a sunny position to flower and is not frost tolerant so best suited for conservatory pot use. An unusual shrub not often seen in cultivation in the UK flowering in the second year from seed.

Melastoma malabathricum


New for 2021!

Blue Tongue Aprx 20 tiny seeds

Melastoma malabathricum  is a small shrub from South East Asia and Australasia with hairy leaves and 2" to 3" purple/pink flowers reminiscent of Tibouchina. Quite a tough plant once raised to a sensible size from the tiny seed as long as the temperature does not fall below 10C. A good warm conservatory plant.

The seeds are tasteless and can be eaten, but stains the tongue black, hence the name melastoma which in Greek means "black mouth". The young leaves are eaten raw or cooked and taste sour for traditional medicinal uses including treatment for diarrhoea, dysentery, ulcers and to treat piles. (Please do not try eating any part of this plant)

Metrosideros excelsa

'Pohutukawa' Pkt
Metrosideros excelsa  - a large tree in its native habitat and often called 'Pohutukawa' or the NZ Christmas Tree as it flowers in their summer. Does not like frost and best grown as a large conservatory pot plant , or planted in a frost free area. It responds to pruning and produces masses of fabulous red flowers in summer.

Plants of the World - Australasia

Gift Pack of Mixed seeds of Australia Aprx 20 seeds

This special mixed packed includes the following 6 varieties each with separately labelled packets with individual seed sowing instructions. More details on each seed can be found below.

Callistemon glaucus    Albany Bottle Brush
Acacia dealbata         Mimosa
Clianthus puniceus      Lobster Claw
Grevillea robusta        Silk Oak
Sophora tetraptera     Kowhai
Pandorea jasminoides Bower Vine

Ptilotus exaltatus Joey

Pink Mulla Mulla 10 seeds
Ptilotus exaltatus Joey was was recently introduced into the UK,  (pronounced tilotus) and truly a breeding breakthrough. A native to central Australia, Pink Mulla Mulla offers exceptional beauty with heat and drought tolerance. Large, conical spikes of feathery flowers top thick silver green foliage. The 3- to 4-inch bottlebrush flower spikes are glistening silver with a darker neon pink colour near the tips. Excellent for container work or in annual flower beds, ‘Joey’ is a natural in any sunny garden location.  12" to 15" tall with easy germination.

Sollya heterophylla

Blue Bell Creeper  20 Seeds җ җ
Sollya heterophylla is a lovely delicate twining climber, hardy and adaptable, tolerating light frosts, partial shade or full sun and can stand seasonal dry periods once established. While preferring lighter soils, the plants will establish in heavier soils provided drainage is good. Excellent as a conservatory or pot plant and it can be trained as a small shrub producing the delicate bright blue flowers most of the summer.

Sophora tetraptera

'Kowhai 10 seeds җ
Sophora tetraptera  - a shrub or small tree of New Zealand and Chile with pendulous racemes of tubular golden-yellow flowers. Flowers earlier from seed than the NZ South Island macrophylla, but is not quite so hardy. Flowers of a deeper gold than macrophylla and a popular North Island garden plant.

Swainsona formosa


Sturt's Desert Pea 10 seeds

Sturt's Desert Pea, is an Australian plant famous for its distinctive blood-red leaf-like flowers, each with a pronounced black centre. It is one of Australia's best known wildflowers native to the arid regions of central and north-western Australia. The plants require dry conditions and a sand/grit compost and watered very sparingly.

Telopea truncata


Waratah 10 seeds җ

The Tasmanian waratah is an evergreen shrub native to warm wet mountain areas of Tasmania. Its sister species, Telopea speciosissima has a more spectacular flower but is not so hardy. A member of the protea family it does not like high nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizers and is prone to damping off once germinated unless the conditions are just right. So not for the fant hearted and you will need "green fingers for this one! This plant does not like dry hot conditions nor direct hot sunshine and best in partial shade.

Ventilago vimilalis


Apple Jack Tree 10 seeds җ

The seedling is a climber which later becomes self-supporting growing to 5 meters tall. Small pale-green flowers appear at the ends of branches. The bark and root of this tree is considered to be one of the most important bush medicines. The bark contains ‘anthraquinone’ derivatives and some of these may be responsible for the anti bacteria properties of this popular bush medicine. The gum can also be eaten from this tree by scraping it off onto a stick and chewed like chewing gum. Not frost hardy so best kept as a cold greenhouse plant or grown in frost free areas.

Xanthorrhoea preissii

Black Boy Australian Grass Tree 15 seeds җ
Xanthorrhoea preissii - a variety of grass tree with a black trunk known as Blackboy. Xanthorrhoeaceae are slow growing plants that have the appearance of dense clumps of grass on top of short tree trunks. Best kept in a cool airy greenhouse and patience will be needed for them to produce a trunk. An interesting novelty plant.

Xanthostemon chrysanthus

Golden Penda 20 seeds
Xanthostemon chrysanthus, is relatively unknown outside of Australia but a very desirable garden plant for warmer climates or as a Greenhouse pot plant. The glorious, dense flower heads are well displayed at branches ends and are bright yellow reminiscent of a Bottlebrush. Flowering time is from winter through early spring and it flowers reliably  often within 2-3 years from seed in ideal conditions. In native rainforest environments the tree can grow up to 40-50 ft, however in gardens it may reach only 15-20 ft and in pots much smaller. It responds well to pruning and can be easily shaped into a manageable sized shrub. The plant is pretty hardy, tolerates dry soil and can even take light frosts.



Symbol Codes

Germination -- Easy Moderate and Challenging

Backlog for Fresh Seed Flavour

Hardiness - To -5°C җ To -10°C җҗ Fully Hardy җҗҗ

Needs Shady Position Sunny Position Water Loving