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Banksia Growing Guide

Screenshot 2023 07 24 At 11 31 28 Am - Garden Express Australia

What Is A Banksia?

Banksias are a fascinating and diverse group of plants belonging to the Proteaceae family. Native to Australia, Banksias grow as trees or woody shrubs, boasting spectacular flower spikes and unique foliage. 

Banksias play a crucial role in Australia’s ecosystems, providing food and shelter for a myriad of native wildlife. With over 170 species, Banksias come in all shapes and sizes. They are a popular choice in horticulture and landscaping due to their resilience and vibrant appearance. 

If you have ever wondered how to grow Banksia trees or shrubs, you’ve come to the right place. In this growing guide, we’ll focus on Banksia trees and shrubs and explore the essentials of growing and caring for them in your garden.

How to Grow Banksia Trees and Shrubs

Growing Banksias can be extremely rewarding given their beautiful colours and hardy nature. To give your trees and shrubs the right start, it is important to understand the ideal Banksia growing conditions

When to Plant – When Do Banksias Flower?

The planting season for Banksias is generally during autumn. This allows time to establish roots before the warmer months, ensuring a healthy start.

The flowering seasons of Banksias vary among species, however many bloom during autumn and winter, providing colour when other plants may not. For example, Banksia burdettii produces spectacular orange flowers in late summer, while Banksia Birthday Candles, Australia’s highest-selling native plant, dazzles with golden flowers from autumn to winter.

Soil Preparation

Banksias typically thrive in well-drained soils with a slightly acidic pH (6–6.5 pH). If your soil is clay-based or retains too much water, consider growing your Banksias in a pot or a raised bed where soil conditions can be manipulated to create the perfect drainage most Banksias require.

Banksias have evolved to grow in low-phosphorus soils, so it’s essential to use a low-phosphorus, slow-release fertiliser. It’s also advisable to mulch around the base to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. However, be cautious not to pile mulch against the stem as this can lead to collar rot.

Can Banksia grow in pots?

Growing Banksia shrubs in containers when done correctly can yield great results for gardeners. Choose a large pot with drainage holes and use a native potting mix designed for Australian plants. 

Banksias don’t like overly wet roots, so make sure the pot has good drainage. Place the pot in a sunny location, but ensure some protection from harsh afternoon sun. 

Regularly prune your Banksia shrub to encourage dense growth, and fertilise with a low-phosphorus, slow-release fertiliser.

How long do Banksias live?

Banksia trees and shrubs have varying lifespans depending on the species and environmental factors. On average, shrubs tend to have a shorter lifespan of around 10 to 20 years. But how long do Banksia trees live? Again, this depends on the exact variety, but many Banksia trees can live for several decades.

Good horticultural practices, such as proper watering, appropriate fertilisation and pest control can significantly affect the longevity of Banksias. Ensuring that the plants are in an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat will help contribute to a longer life.

How Tall Do Banksias Grow?

Banksia species cover a wide range of heights. Some shrubs, such as Banksia Birthday Candles, only grow up to 45 cm tall, making them perfect for small gardens or pots. 

In contrast, trees like the Banksia integrifolia, also known as Coastal Banksia, can reach heights over 25 metres. Pruning can help manage height and promote a bushier growth habit, especially in shrubs. However, for trees, it is important to consider the potential height before planting, ensuring they have adequate space to grow.

How Fast Do Banksias Grow?

Generally, Banksia shrubs grow at a moderate pace. Many Banksia species, especially shrubs, can reach their full size in just a few years under optimal conditions. Banksia trees, on the other hand, usually take longer to mature.

Sunlight, soil quality, water availability and temperature are significant factors that influence how fast Banksias grow. Banksias thrive in well-draining soils, and while they are drought-tolerant once established, regular watering during their initial growth phase can give them a boost. Additionally, choosing a Banksia species that is well-suited to your local climate and conditions is crucial for optimal growth.

Root Systems of Banksia – Are Banksia Roots Invasive?

There are many misconceptions regarding the invasive nature of Banksia roots. In reality, Banksia trees and shrubs generally have root systems that are adapted to efficiently absorb water and nutrients from poor soils. Banksia roots usually don’t pose any significant threat to foundations or plumbing.

It is important to provide enough space for roots to grow, and to avoid planting Banksias too close to structures or other plants as they may compete for resources. It is always best to research the specific root characteristics of the Banksia species you are planting.

Caring for Banksias

Banksias are relatively low-maintenance but regular pruning, especially after flowering, encourages bushiness and more flowers.

Water young Banksias regularly until they are established but avoid overwatering as they are quite drought-resistant. Use a slow-release, low-phosphorus fertiliser to avoid damaging the sensitive root system. Keep an eye out for pests, such as borers, and manage them promptly if encountered.

Getting Started With Your Banksias

Banksias, with their striking flowers and resilient nature, are a treasure in Australian landscapes. From the planting season and soil preparation to understanding their lifespan and managing their height, good practices will reward you with a thriving Banksia garden that is also a haven for native wildlife. To get started growing your own Banksias, check out some of the beautiful species available at Garden Express.