Yvonne Har­g­reaves, Eu­roa, Vic­to­ria

Gardening Australia - - MAILBOX -

I in­her­ited a gre­vil­lea when I bought a unit last Septem­ber. It was badly out of shape, as it was up against two very old bot­tle­brushes, which we re­moved. We cut off all the dead limbs on one side, and quite a lot of new growth has ap­peared (right). What is the best way to prune it so I don’t lose the won­der­ful flow­ers, which the birds just love? It has flow­ered beau­ti­fully since Septem­ber. An­gus Ste­wart says You have done pre­cisely the right thing by prun­ing in spring, as there is a risk that if you prune now, you will en­cour­age soft new growth that is likely to be dam­aged by frost. Wait un­til next spring, when you can prune as hard as is nec­es­sary to cre­ate a more even shape. Look for sev­eral healthy new shoots or branches that will grow out to cre­ate an evenly shaped bush, then use a nice sharp prun­ing saw to cut just above th­ese at an an­gle, so that wa­ter can­not col­lect on the sub­se­quent wound. Be aware that a re­ally hard prune back to a bare stump tends to cre­ate a lot of veg­e­ta­tive growth, and so it may be a year or two be­fore that part of the plant starts to flower again.

At the same time as prun­ing, feed it with a hand­ful of low-phos­pho­rus na­tive plant fer­tiliser, and wa­ter it in well. As the gre­vil­lea grows back, you can also tip-prune the new shoots to en­cour­age ex­tra bushi­ness and even more flow­ers. Over time, those ex­tra shoots that form will flower at their ends and pro­duce the most spec­tac­u­lar dis­play pos­si­ble.

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