Grasstree Care

Grasstree

These magnificent living prehistoric sculptures are protected in most states and occur prolifically across the geographic and climate range between -5ºC to 45ºC throughout Australia - from the tropics of Queensland to the forests of Tasmania, then right across the deserts to Western Australia.

There are 28 species, most of which grow for hundreds of years, although at an extremely slow rate. A 1m tall trunk represents at least 100 years of growth. Every 5 - 7 years a striking 1 - 4m flower spike should appear. Bush fires further stimulate flowering. Grasstrees thrive in full sun, shade and are ideal for indoors/conservatories as they tolerate low humidity.

Planting and Care Information

Planting Outdoors

Location: To grow in full sun shade or filtered light you will need a well drained site. Do not drop or disturb the root ball.

Soil: If the soil is not well drained (particularly clay) position your grasstree on a mound of sand or free draining material. Be careful not to disturb the root ball. Pack a good organic Native potting compost, peat or composted leaf litter around the root ball. Do not leave any air pockets. In sand or free draining soil, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and pack a layer of native compost.

Plant so the base of the trunk is at ground level and pack more compost to fill air pockets. Pruning is not essential, only remove spent leaves and flowers for ascetic reasons.

It is most important to water liberally, especially initially. Water daily for two months, then 50 litres a week (a must during hot weather) for the next two years until established.

Potted Outdoors

When re-potting go up in size to a pot half a size again. Put 5cm (2") of free draining material on the bottom and fill with a good potting mix. Make sure the base of the pot has good drainage holes. It is beneficial to slightly raise to pot off the ground. Do not use chemicals or fertilisers. Water daily during hot weather.

Potted Indoors

Treat much the same as outdoors. Make sure the position has plenty of natural light and stand the pot on a tray. Water the base of the trunk until 0.5" (10mm) has drained through to the tray. Do not water again until the tray is totally dry for 1 - 2 days; occasionally spray the foliage.

Possible Problems and Precautionary Measures

Problem: Leaves yellowing to browning off from the outside working in.
Measure: Plant is too pot bound, needs repotting or not enough watering.

Problem: Leaves yellowing to browning from the centre out.
Measure: Water logged roots; needs repotting OR may be infected with the Barbi grub or the larvae of native flies which enter the trunk and cause it to rot which allows leaves to pull out easily. This can be avoided by applying Malathion insecticide. Pour a quarter cup of recommended strength into the crown in Spring or Autumn. If browning persists the roots have not established or have been disturbed - Remove all foliage and allow to regrow.

Most problems are caused through lack or water in the first two years. After having grown in the wild for 50 - 500 years it may take a year or two to properly re-establish and root itself into a new environment.

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