Banksia are slow to establish, but they are long lived and well worth the investment of time. The upright, cone-like blooms occur across all seasons depending on the climate and variety grown. Yellow, orange, scarlet and pink blooms dominate, attracting a variety of wildlife. The distinctive seed cones remain long after the blooms have faded. Tightly-closed follicles in each cone hold large flat seeds that are only released after a long period of maturity and dryness or when naturally subjected to heat from a fire. Good drainage is required for all, but a few species, including the swamp banksia (Banksia robur) and Wallum banksia (Banksia aemula).
Look for these popular selections: –
- Pots, groundcovers and dwarf shrubs Pygmy Possum, Roller Coaster, Honey Pots, Birthday Candles
- Medium shrubs and small trees Banksia spinulosa var. collina, Heath banksia (Banksia ericifolia), Silver banksia (Banksia marginata)
- Feature trees Giant Candles, coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia), saw banksia (Banksia serrata), tropical banksia (Banksia dentata).
Aspect Full sun positions are preferred. Once established, plants cope well with wind and salt spray. Choose planting sites carefully as banksia hate root disturbance. They rarely transplant successfully if you change your mind. Potted banksias are best moved during the year to positions that maximize sun exposure.
Soil Banksia cope with low soil fertility, but generally require perfect drainage (see exceptions above) and a pH of 6 – 6.5. Proteoid roots make banksia sensitive to phosphorous found in imported soil; compost, poultry manure; mushroom compost and/or potentially any fertilisers not specifically formulated for native plants. Phosphorous-induced iron deficiency (indicated by yellowing tip growth) brings about a slow, but potentially fatal decline (see Watch for).
Climate A diverse range of banksia are found in Western Australia, but they occur naturally throughout Australia, except in the wet, tropical rainforests and deserts. Take advice from staff at your local hardware or garden centre as to the most suitable species for your climate and soil type. The tough, leathery foliage allows banksia to tolerate light to medium frost and coastal exposure.