From November to January, a showy display of the Australian native NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) brightens the Coast and near ranges of New South Wales from the Blue Mountains to the Clarence River. Even though this shrub is native to New South Wales, it does really well right up and down the East Coast of Australia.
The standard NSW Christmas Bush will grow to about 3 or 4 metres tall in the average garden.
For best colouring, they need to be planted in a sunny position. The colder the climate, the later they will colour up.
The NSW Christmas Bush is pretty adaptable, as long as it is reasonably well drained. A good dose of animal manure straight after flowering will bring huge rewards the following season.
Cutting sprays of Christmas Bush for indoor decoration should be the only pruning necessary. When cutting the stems, take them evenly across the crown and prune back to healthy laterals to encourage new growth the following year.
According to Jeremy Smith of The Wildflower Farm, the most important thing is to harvest cut flowers in the cool of the morning. If the bush starts to look a little tired and starts to wither in the vase, snip the stems a couple of centimetres, wet the bush down under the tap and change the water in the vase.
Albery's Red is the most common and probably the most successful species. It flowers early in the season and makes a great feature plant. It can grow to a height of 7 metres and works well as a hedge or small wind break. Magenta Star is grown mainly for it's attractive dark purplish leaves. Wildfire has narrow leaves and is lighter in colour than Albery's Red.
Due to such a high demand as a cut flower both locally and overseas, Jeremy Smith, the owner of The Wildflower Farm, has been developing some new varieties of Christmas Bush that will flower for a longer period of time. Within the next ten years there will be five to six new varieties available on the nursery scene. In the meantime for some extra colour in the garden during the festive season, check out the varieties already in the nurseries.
For more information:
The Wildflower Farm
Ph: (02) 4372 1393