The Lilly Pilly hedge, also known as the Australian Cherry, is a fast-growing hedge frequently used for privacy screens and windbreaks. Covered in edible red and purple fruits, this hedging plant can also be used as a striking standalone ornamental shrub. These hardy hedging plants can grow into full-sized trees if given the right environment, but also take well to regular pruning. During the summer, they have bright white flowers, and later they develop berries that can be eaten or used for canning. Oh, and it’s also an Australia native and consequently does best in Australian environments. Harwood’s Lawn Care always suggests using Native Plants where possible as this drastically reduces the care need throughout the plant’s life.
Here’s what you need to know about caring for your Lilly Pilly Hedge.
Choosing The Right Lilly Pilly Hedge
There are multiple varieties, depending on size, flowers, and berries. Some can grow up to ten meters in height, while others may grow much smaller. Some have larger or smaller leaves, and some will grow berries and some will not.
Here are the most common varieties:
- Acmena smithii. This variety is resistant to psyllids, which makes it the ideal choice if you believe that psyllids may be in your garden, or eating your existing plants. This is a larger variety that can grow up to 5 meters tall.
- Royal Flame. The Royal Flame is under 2 meters tall, making it perfect for those who want low hedges and small accents. Like Acmena smithii, it is resistant to psyllids.
- Tiny Trev. If you want a very small accent or a container plant, Tiny Trev is ideal. Tiny Trev will grow under one meter, though it is not psyllid-resistant. For psyllid-resistance and small formats, look into the Hedgemaster, which is also under one meter tall.
These are some of the best-known varieties available, depending on the size of your garden, and whether you need resistance to psyllids, which is one of the most common menaces to this amazing screening plants.
Consider the conditions that you’re going to be planting your hedge in before you choose one, as some are more resistant to issues such as drought, while others are simply showier.
While many people plant Lilly Pillies specifically as decor, the fruits are edible and can be used to make preserves and jams. They can also draw in birds. If you want a fruit-bearing hedge in your backyard, make sure to look for a hedge that will bear fruit. Some hybrids will not.
Do you need to buy some lilly pillies? Check out our friends at Plants in a Box. Plants in a Box have over 13 varieties of Lilly Pillies that you can order online and they also offer free standard delivery. (Delivery only available to QLD, ACT, NSW, SA and VIC)
Do you live in Hobart Tasmania? Check out our preferred local plant supplier Greenhill Nursery.
How to Plant Your Lilly Pilly Hedge
Lilly Pillies will grow in most environments, but they prefer moist, warm soil. Soil that is too moist or that does not drain properly could inhibit growth or cause rot. They also can be planted directly into the ground or into a container, though they will need more frequent watering if used as a container plant. Either way, they will prefer a more fertile soil.
Because they can be pruned and shaped, they are ideal for everything from windbreaks to topiary. They are also attractive to native birds, thanks to their delicious fruits. As a hardy hedge, they can be planted and grown by virtually anyone.
Lilly Pillies can be acquired either bare root or potted, and either way. they should be planted in a hole that is twice the size of the root ball, and back-filled with moderately packed each. Lilly Pillies prefer to be mulched so that they can retain moisture, but excess moisture should be avoided.
The year after the Lilly Pilly has been planted will likely be it’s most vulnerable. During this time, watch it to make sure that it is growing and taking root properly and water it regularly.
How to Take Care of Your Lilly Pilly Hedge
They can be regularly trimmed or even turned into topiary during maintenance. While regular watering is advised (especially if it is in a container), otherwise most can be allowed to grow undisturbed on their own.
On a semi-regular basis, you should inspect your hedges and make sure that they don’t have any damage to their leaves or steps. In a container, check to make sure that the hedge has not become root-bound. If it has become root bound, transition it to a larger container.
If the weather becomes too cold, Lilly Pilly hedges may falter. Mulch in colder months and pay attention to whether leaf drop occurs early and whether there appears to be any frost damage on the leaves.
Common Problems with Lilly Pillies
Since these hedges are extremely durable, there are few things that you are likely to notice wrong with yours. But there are some symptoms that could indicate a larger problem. Here are some of the most common problems you’ll experience with a Lilly Pilly hedge.
- Small bumps. If small bumps appear along the leaves, it’s likely a pest known as the Lilly Pilly psyllid. This does not physically injure the plant but may not be attractive. Some varieties are naturally resistant to these pests, while others are going to need to be pest treated. This is one of the most common issues that gardeners will have with this type of hedge, and it has to be addressed quickly or it can spread not only to the entire plant but to other plants as well.
- Diseased foliage. If foliage begins to turn a burned, orange color, it may be Myrtle Rust. Myrtle Rust is a type of fungus that is common among Myrtle plants. Remove the diseased foliage and treat the rest of the plant with a fungicide. Diseased foliage can quickly spread, which can ultimately damage the plant itself.
- Stunted, unhealthy growth. Lilly Pilly hedges can be vulnerable to scale insects, which suck the sap out of plants and leave them unhealthy and weak. Ladybugs and other predator insects can help manage these types of pests safely and naturally. Stunted, unhealthy growth could also indicate problems with the root system, or over-watering. Check to make sure that the soil around the plant isn’t too moist and therefore leading to damage and rot; it could be that the plant needs to be given time between waterings.
Lilly Pillies are extremely low maintenance, versatile screening plants that can be used for in a variety of situations. From potting them as decor to growing them as a privacy screen, Lilly Pillies are an excellent choice for any gardener. For the most part, they are resistant to most adverse situations. As long as they are in the right climate and are placed correctly, they should be a fast-growing addition.
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