Great Design Plant: Conebush

There is A background plant anything but a filler. It’s a base, providing structure, highlighting surrounding plants and showcasing just a bit of its own special traits. From as a cut flower the backyard, conebush stands out as among my favourite base plants. A South African native and member of their family Proteaceae, conebush offers dramatic foliage color yearlong. Vivid colors of gold, green, red, pink and orange punctuate the backyard during the year, adding extra holiday cheer throughout autumn and winter.

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Botanical name: Leucadendron (and hybrids)
Common name: Conebush, leucadendron
USDA zones: Vary by species; most plants can withstand temperatures to the low 20s and can take care of a mild frost.
Water necessity: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature dimensions: Varies with species; typically the size of a large shrub or small tree
Advantages and tolerances: Tolerant of drought as well as coastal waters
Seasonal interest: Most plants blossom winter through spring; attractive folilage
When to plant: In spring after the last frost

Shown: Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’

Dig Your Garden Landscape Design

Distinguishing attributes. Conebush’s distinguishing features ring true in the backyard as well as in the house. Hybrids are commonplace and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Some varieties are shrubbier, while others resemble small trees.

Evergreen, simple leathery leaves within a broad array of colors produce inflorescence (flower clusters) primarily in autumn through spring.

Shown: Leucadendron ‘Pisa’

Debora carl landscape layout

Leucadendron is dioecious, meaning male and female plants are somewhat different. Female and male floral bracts change, but foliage and blossoms are stunning on both.

Shown: Leucadendron ‘Winter Red’ and kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos)

Pat Brodie Landscape Design

The best way to utilize it. Conebush is a sophisticated choice for the northeast landscape. Other plants are complemented by its foliage, and it is used as a background plant.

Its particular growing requirements dictate where your conebush will flourish. Landscape designer Eileen Kelly says that planting conebush on hillsides or slopes assists drainage and also showcases the depth of its foliage. Smaller plants can also be grown in containers. (Remember that conebush does not transplant well.)

Shown: Leucadendron ‘Cloudbank Ginny’ (in background), surrounded by breath of paradise (Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’), Beschorneria, parrot’s beak (Lotus berthelotii), silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus) and ground glory (Convolvulus sabatius).

Gardens from Gabriel, Inc..

Planting notes. Leucadendron is sun loving, drought tolerant and an overall beautiful shrub. It can be finicky about ailments and is not the easiest plant to grow. Protect it from extreme winds. Promote good air circulation. Maintain well-drained soil. “I like to add perlite or little red lava stone to assist with drainage,” says Kelly.

It’s also particular about soil types. “Calcium and potassium can be detrimental to Leucadendrons, therefore they ought to not be fertilized. Adding compost annually around the base provides valuable nutrients,” says Kelly. Compost is essential.

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Every spring, before new growth emerges, prune spent blossoms to clean the plant up and promote more flowering. Conebush does not enjoy soil disturbance or being transplanted, and therefore you need to trim only spent blossoms — don’t cut back the whole stem.

Shown: Leucadendron ‘Sylvan Red’

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