Plant ID and advice

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Plant ID and advice

Postby fivehorizons » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:42 am

Hello, I am new to this board, and - having lived in apartments all my life - new to gardening as well. We have rented a house in Moreton Bay and we're allowed to plant in the gardens - kind of practicing for when we buy our own house. The neighborhood is full of beautiful gardens and very lush front yards. Unfortunately, we have a very ugly plant in front of our house, the ugliest in the whole suburb, I should say. As you can see in the attached pictures it is overgrowing and smothering the other smaller plants. Parts of it seem to be growing "upside down"... just horrible. Can you please tell me what plant this is and what I should do with it? Does it supposed to have some kind of shape that I should cut, or just cut it back everywhere? I'm afraid it would look even worse... If it was my house I would just rip it right out of the garden, but I obviously can not do that. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, - Joe.
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby midgin » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:49 am

A grevillea of some sort...my guess is it is a grafted standard. Don't write it off. A tidy up... trim the lower hanging skirt...that will improve the looks enormously. I think you will be amazed at what is well hidden in that plant. Another tip... I added some Grandfathers Beard to the knobby part on the top of My Grevillea 'Grassfire'to hide bare branches.
Here is one of mine...I need to shorten its skirt regularly... :lol: This one is Grevillea 'Royal Mantle'.
Grevillea 'Royal Mantle' Sun PM 1.9.13 033 (Small).jpg
Grevillea 'Royal Mantle'.


This big fellow is G. 'Grassfire'. Again... I need to trim it at times... not as often as it is a taller grafted plant.

Grevillea 'Grassfire' Mon 20.1.2014 002 (Small).jpg
Grevillea 'Grassfire'


Did I happen to mention that I love this plants... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby fivehorizons » Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:29 pm

Thanks so much for your reply! I wish this ugly thing looked anything like your plants, but to my layman's eyes there is no similarity at all. We just call it "death plant". Is it normal that the main branch looks like it's been broken and now is growing downward?
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby midgin » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:07 pm

These grafted Grevillea are weeper type plants...so the foliage always tends to droop. Hence why I said a gentle haircut is the way to go. Start off gently, that way no worry of error.
try it.... what do you have to lose?
See below...a flower from my 'Royal Mantle'...which BTW seems to flower all year round in my temperate climate....it's always a mass of flowers....too good. (Y)

Grevillea 'Royal Mantle ' 4.7.2012 wed 014 (Small).jpg
G. 'Royal Mantle'
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby Pam » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:11 am

Although you've been told you can plant in the gardens, I wouldn't be ripping that one out on a whim, as it has probably cost your landlord a lot of money, and I'd say it would be a sure-fire way to get on his bad side. (I know you're not planning on doing so at this point, but just saying....)

Yes, it's a weeping form of grevillea, grafted onto a standard. The weeping forms are often preferable for the purpose. Having said that, looking at the height of yours, I can probably even tell you where they bought it. It's the only place I know of that does them at this height, and it's a really, really STUPID height for a standard grevillea, because almost inevitably they end up with the growth laying all over the ground and smothering other plants around them, and the effect of the flowers that makes them desirable as standards is lost.

You can safely cut it back to around 20 or 30 cm (above the graft) provided there is foliage still attached on each stem you cut.

A word of warning - DON'T use regular fertiliser on those gardens. You need a native food of some type.

EDIT:



On each of the main branches that you cut, these shoots are what you want to be looking for - cut just past one of those and the plant will recover quickly, and probably reward you with flowers in no time. You'll find they'll appear in clusters, around the same height, so a good clip, leaving those on, should produce a nice bushy plant
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby fivehorizons » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:54 am

Thanks so much for the advice and instructions! I will try and cut the branches back today. I had never heard of grafting before, and just spent some time reading about it - I'm still not sure I understand what it's done for. I find it very unattractive, as if a big storm had damaged the plant. Not unlike a person with a broken back who has survived and lives on disfigured. Anyway, I greatly appreciate the good advice and will post pictures of how I managed. Cheers, - Joe.
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby Pam » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:13 am

Generally, grevilleas (and many other plants) are grafted for one of two reasons:

1) To make them more compatible with their growing conditions. This means one can grow plants that originate from different places, which might have a totally different climate. A lot of the species varieties that we normally see grafted occur naturally in Western Australia, and our climate and soils etc are different to where they've come from. Growing in our conditons on their own roots they don't tend to last long. The rootstocks they're grafted onto make them far tougher, and tolerant of humidity, etc.

2) As is the case with yours, a plant which normally grows as a ground cover is grafted onto a trunk, to get it up off the ground so that its flowers/foliage/ whatever can be better seen, or to create a sculptural effect.

With some grevilleas (NOT including this one) you can't avoid the bare look at the top - it's just the way it is. You don't notice it so much though if they're taller , and you're not looking straight down onto them. For this type to be bare and leggy on top, it simply hasn't been maintained properly during its growth, and is a really good example of why plants should be pruned on a regular basis. If it were MY plant I'd cut it back much harder than what I've advised you to do, because I know there's a high likelihood it will recover, and be rejuvenated, and come back all the bushier for it, but with someone else's plant I wouldn't advise it, because there IS a risk that you could lose it, and I wouldn't do it at this time of year anyway, as it's far too late in the growing season.
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby Keo » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:39 pm

fivehorizons wrote:Thanks so much for your reply! I wish this ugly thing looked anything like your plants, but to my layman's eyes there is no similarity at all. We just call it "death plant". Is it normal that the main branch looks like it's been broken and now is growing downward?


"Death plant" seems a bit harsh. It's not a bad Grevillea, it just needs some TLC to come into its own. Give it a chance, you might end up liking it.
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby fivehorizons » Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:27 pm

Thank you so much for the replies. I have cut the branches back as instructed. I don't think it looks any better- the bald top is now even more prominent. I'm sure it is a nice plant because the foliage is nice, if only it stood 2m tall instead of waist high... At least the smaller plants around it can breathe now. Thanks again! -Joe
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Re: Plant ID and advice

Postby Pam » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:37 am

It's going to look worse until some of the new shoots have had a chance to grow out Joe, but yes, as you say, it would always be less obvious if you weren't looking down onto it. It's really a hopeless size for a standard. I don't know what they were thinking.
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