Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tasmanian Waratahs


This week, I picked my first Tasmanian Waratahs for the season.  I have one bush that flowers in late October - just a bit earlier than the rest.  Almost over night, it seemed to be covered in bright red blooms.

Most people associate the Waratah with New South Wales, probably because its is that states floral emblem, but Victoria and Tasmania are also home to some wonderful species of waratah.  At Swallows Nest Farm, we are lucky to be growing the waratah endemic to Tasmania called Telopea Truncata. It is a smaller flowered plant to its mainland cousins, but size isn't everything!  The Tassie waratah is about the size of a carnation and looks a bit like a cross between a "normal" waratah and a grevillea.  It has lovely bent styles the give it a charming sculptural quality.


The Tasmanian Waratah grows as a large shrub to 3 m, but can that can get to over 8 metres tall.  In the wild, it grows in wet forest areas and flowers in November and December.  It is often picked in the wild for the flower trade. The flowers are striking red making the bush really stand out when its in bloom.  Very rarely, the flowers are actually yellow.  The yellow form has been used to make hybrid waratahs which are available to purchase as garden plants called "Shady Lady Yellow".  It is the only waratah to have a yellow variation.  

I love it that these cheery Tasmanians are ready to pick in the lead-up to Christmas.  As a flower grower, its the plants that help to mark the seasons and this one is such a lovely Christmassy flower.  It brightens up a bouquet and compliments the other flowers that are available in the Christmas season. 



The Tasmanian Waratah is best propagated by seed.  After the plant has flowered it produces some fantanstic seed pods.  I'm a bit of a collector of seed pods and waratah seed pods are definitely worth collecting!


Look out for Tasmanian Waratahs in your florist or in the wild during November and December.  They are a real treat and a great reminder that Christmas is fast approaching!

If you'd like to have a go at growing your own Tasmanian Waratah, you can buy fresh seed collected from Swallows Nest Farm here.

6 comments:

  1. There is a yellow flowering waratah just off the Overland Track if you know where to find it, it's so beautiful! :)

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    1. does it flower at the same time of the year as the red?- ive got a small one at home that hasnt flowered yet and am keen to see a bigger one- there is one growing at the oldina native nursery that is about 2 metres high and flowers - i think he is growing seed from that as well as cuttings

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    2. The yellow flowers at the same time as the red, taking into account the different altitudes, conditions etc. It's the same plant, just the colour of the flower is different. Thanks for the info about the Olinda Nursery - I'm keen to get some of the yellow form, so I am going to contact them and see if I can buy some!
      Grace

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  2. Hi Erica, my name is David Marrison and I am a Horticulturist at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart, I am intersted in the yellow form you talk about as we have a collection of Waratah species at the Gardens and would love some of the yellow form from the Overland Track ,as have heard about it for years.
    My email address is David.Marrison@rtbg.tas.gov.au if you would like contact me.

    Regards
    Dave M

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    1. Hi Dave,
      I've passed your comment on to Erica. She said she would get in touch with you soon. It would be fabulous to have a yellow one at the RTBG! I hope it happens!

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    2. Hi Grace,thankyou for your help Erica contacted me and gave the details on where to find the yellow waratah thankyou Dave Marrison

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