Flowers for the hot and dry
IT’S been an exceptionally dry winter. The long-term forecast is for a dry summer into autumn. Some Indigenous plants will provide a rewarding display of colour and freshness, even in such challenging times. Common everlasting daisies are a mainstay filler that cope extremely well with hot dry conditions. Attractive either as bedding plants or as understorey fillers, Chrysocephalum apiculatum and C. semipapposum are winners. They thrive in full sun to part shade. What’s in a name? “Chrysocephalum” is from Greek, chryso = golden and cephalus = headed. “Apiculatum” is from Latin meaning ‘ending abruptly in a short point’, referring to the leaves. “Semipapposum” is also from Latin. Semi = half and pappos = downy or fluffy, referring to the individual flowers being white for two-thirds of their length. Four distinct sub-species occur in Victoria. Intermediate forms between C. semipapposum and C. apiculatum exist, and there are extreme forms of both species. These grey-leaved multi-headed daisies occur throughout Australia. They may be common, but they are also very beautiful. The combination of grey leaves and bright yellow flower heads is brilliant and they thrive in cultivation. C. apiculatum is a dwarf, spreading, bedding plant. It flowers profusely and almost continuously for most of the year. It can be refreshed by cutting back spent flower heads and will burst back with renewed vigour with more clusters of golden blooms. C. semipapposum is a sprawling plant up to 40cm high and 60 cm wide. It is easy-care – needing only a heavy prune back to almost ground level at the end of the flowering season. From time to time, seedlings may pop up in the garden. They may turn out to be either short, tall or in between. You can take your chances on whether they will be short, tall or in between and just ‘wait and see’. Alternatively, to ensure that you get a particular form, take cuttings of firm young growth. They will strike easily and quickly.
◆ VIBRANT: Common Everlasting - Chyrsocephalum apiculatum - dwarf, spreading form.