Teleopea speciosissima – Waratah
Striking large red inflorescences in springtime.
This is a large shrub, growing up to 3.0M. Its several stems arise from a pronounced woody base known as a lignotuber. The species is well renowned for its striking large red springtime inflorescences (flowerheads), each including hundreds of individual flowers. Each flowerhead is an absolute joy, and it is grown commercially as a cut flower.
T. speciosissima is native to a small coastal region of New South Wales, around Sydney. It is the state flower of New South Wales. In the wild it usually occurs as an understory shrub in open forest on sandy soils in areas with moderately high rainfall. It is a pioneer plant after bush fire.
Soil / Aspect:
T. speciosissima requires good drainage. Despite growing in the dappled shade of Eucalyptus woodlands in the wild, it flowers best in full sun. Modern varieties have been bred to be more frost-tolerant and shade-tolerant than the species.
Heavy pruning after flowering reinvigorates the plants and promotes more profuse flowering in the next season. The wood is somewhat brittle and the plants are best not exposed to wind.