Hot to grow Geraldton wax plants

Geraldton Wax Plant Flowers

Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) is an attractive Western Australian shrub or small tree. It is a favourite in native gardens, with its needle-like leaves and waxy pink or red flowers that appear from later Winter to Spring. Geraldton Wax is part of the Myrtaceae family, and thankfully it is easy to grow Geraldton Wax in Perth.  These beautiful shrubs come from Western Australia, where they occur naturally on and near the coast from Perth up to just north of Geraldton although some of other varieties come from other parts. Although they are from Western Australia, they will also grow in coastal NSW and Southeast-Central Queensland if conditions are right.

Beautiful, low-growing shrubs to about 2m high in gardens with aromatic foliage and rounded flowers in pink, red, white and cream. Geraldton Wax is well-suited to Australia’s dry gardens and landscapes and the plants cope well with irregular watering and low soil fertility.

When to plant Geraldton Wax in Perth:
Geraldton Wax can be grown from seed all year round except in hottest or coldest weather. Sow in warm areas at any time. In frost prone areas when danger of frost is over. Seeds have a thick oily skin. To help leach out the oil it is best to sow the seeds in a warm, coarse, quick draining, sandy (or fine gravel) alkaline soil. Germination can take 30-60 days or longer.

When do Geraldton Wax plants flower?
Depending on the variety and conditions Geraldton Wax will flower during June – December. Geraldton Wax is a great as a cut flower and can be used in floral bouquets. Lightly prune Geraldton Wax plants after flowering.

Types of Geraldton Wax in Western Australia:
In the wild, Geraldton wax is most commonly white with varying tinges of mauve. Many varieties are commercially available, with just some of the many varieties of Geraldton Wax listed below.

Strawberry Surprise – Has frilly petals in a pretty medium pink. Plant in full sun or part shade. This medium shrub grows to 2m high and 1.5m wide.
Burgundy Blush – A graceful medium shrub with vibrant burgundy/purple flowers fading to light pink. Grows to 2m high and 1.5m wide.
Chantilly Lace – Has frilly white flowers with a crisp lime green centre.
CWA Pink – Produces blush pink wax flowers at the end of winter on a 2m shrub. It is from the uncinatum species so tolerates very windy coastal areas.
Eric John – A hybrid crossed with a verticordia, producing masses of mauve flowers in early spring. Eric John is a smaller-bush variety growing to 1.5m high and 1m wide. It has medium frost tolerance and is drought resistant.
Lilac Spring – A medium rounded shrub to 2.5m, Lilac Spring produces beautiful mauve-pink flowers from mid-August over fine dense foliage. These slightly two-toned flowers cover the plant, creating a wonderful display.
Moonlight Delight – Large glossy red buds open to masses of large white flowers with striking red centres in early spring. Grows in the full sun or partly shaded position to a height of 2m and spreading to 1.5m.
My Sweet Sixteen – A particularly lovely, with masses of pure white flowers maturing to a rich red shade, so all shades appear at once when the plant is in bloom.
Purple Pride Dwarf – A compact smaller version growing 1.5m high x 1.5m wide, the pink flowers turn to rich purple. Grows in either full sun or part shade. Light frost tolerance.
Raspberry Ripple – A medium rounded shrub to 2m. Deep-pink flowers cover the plant creating a fantastic display.
Sarah’s Delight – Has vibrant pink blooms with a crimson centre.
Sweet Rosie – A quality selection of Walpole wax. White blossoms age to deep red over a long flowering period in spring. The flowers attract birds.
Vesuvius – A hardy upright shrub to 2m x 1m wide with very dense foliage. Small white flowers appear during spring maturing to a gorgeous red colour.

How to grow Geraldton Wax at home:

  1. Choose a location in your garden that gets full sun to part shade. Prepare the planting area well by digging in soil improver and plant fertiliser in advance of planting.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the plant from the pot, gently tease the roots.
  3. Position in hole and back fill with soil, gently firming down. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant’s root zone. This helps keep water where it’s needed.  Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes.
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch, keeping it away from the trunk.
  5. Feed occasionally with soil improver and plant fertiliser to ensure strong root development.

How to grow Geraldton Wax in a pot:
If you do decide to grow a Geraldton Wax in a pot, choose a pot which is too large for the plant. However a pot which is too large makes it difficult to control the moisture content, and can lead to over-wet areas which will increase the risk of root rot. The ideal pot size would be no more than twice the size of the one that the plant is currently in when you purchase.

  1. Choose a pot that is at least twice the size of the selected plant. Position in the garden that receives full sun to part shade.
  2. Fill the pot with a quality potting mix, such as potting mix with dynamic lifter.
  3. Carefully remove the plant from the pot ensuring not to disturb any of the roots. TIP: You can use scissors to remove the plant from the pot but take care when using this method.
  4. Position in hole and back fill with potting mix, gently firming down. Water in well.
  5. Mulch around the base with organic mulch, keeping it away from the trunk.
  6. Feed occasionally with soil improver and plant fertiliser to ensure strong root development.

Geraldton Wax plant care and common problems:

  • Take care when removing the plant from the pot as they don’t like their roots to be disturbed when planting.
  • Geraldton wax don’t perform well in humid summer environments and these conditions may limit the plants lifespan.
  • Dislikes wet feet. Always ensure that the soil is not wet for long periods of time.
  • This species is susceptible to dieback (the soil borne fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi), although this is not common.

Geraldton Wax companion plants:
Geraldton wax plants combine well in garden beds with most other natives including shrubs such as grevilleas, correa and westringia, as well as colourful annuals such as paper daisies. They also work well among early spring flowering exotic shrubs such as azaleas and spiraeas.

Use the cut Geraldton Wax flowers in the home as they will last up to a week.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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