The various species of English Box or Buxus have long been a favourite group of plants for hedging and topiary work. They are relatively slow growing and are wonderful for cooler climates because of their frost hardiness. There is however, an alternative for the warmer, frost free climates in parts of Australia - the Lilly Pilly.
They are a diverse group of Australian native plants that botanically belong to two groups - the Syzigium and Acmena. They come in all shapes and sizes and one of the really exciting developments in recent years has been a selection of dwarf varieties that have been specifically bred for hedging work.
The Syzigium Lilliput has a beautiful glossy leaf and will perform well in either full sun or light shade. They grow up to two metres in height and have attractive copper red new growth.
The Syzigium Baby Pilly has similar growing requirements to the Lilliput with a slightly smaller, less colourful leaf. It also grows to around two metres and can be easily shaped into balls, cones, cubes, columns and spirals.
Syzigium Tiny Trev is a lower growing hedge plant that grows to less than a metre.
The Lilly Pilly needs to be fertilised and watered regularly through Spring and Summer for good growth.
Lilly Pillis, in particular Syzigiums, are quite prone to damage from psylids, a tiny insect that stings the back of the leaf which causes a pimpling effect. There is an environmentally friendly way of eliminating it - simply trim off the affected growth or to solve the problem altogether, there are types of Lilly Pilly that are quite resistant to the problem such as various forms of Acmena smithii and Minipilly.