Native Hedging Plants – For Harsh, Hot, Dry, Windy Positions
For years the main specialist native hedging plants have been Lilly Pillies. They are fine for shaded or general conditions, but in hot, dry, exposed and windy sites they can struggle. Now there are a number of new specialist native hedging and screening plants that love exposure, with unique Westringia and Callistemon plants leading the way.
Part of the reason for the revival in hedging plants is the increased use of low cost long arm and standard hedge trimmers that can hedge plants in a fraction of the time. Pruning can be done more often at a lower cost of time and money, and without the back-breaking work. If you haven’t tried one yet you don’t know what you’re missing.Many exotics like English and Japanese Box make good hedges but are a little slow to establish. Murraya, Viburnum, and Photinia are widely used as screens and larger hedges, and are ideal for many situations, but for hot, exposed and windy sites they can struggle at times. For most years they will be fine, but in Australia every now and then we get extreme heat and wind.
Most of our capitals experience 40 to 45 degree days with hot winds at some time. This is when plants are truly tested. Even Acmenasmithii can be tested in these situations. Add severe drought to the equation, finding plants that survive our tough, sun burnt country can be hard. With all the rain on the East Coast lately, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and not plan for the certain return of drought, heat, and hot winds.
In years gone by certain species of native plants like Callistemon, Westringia, Leptospermum and Melaleuca have survived these harsh periods very well, but most cultivars are poorly suited to hedging. Their internodes are not spaced right, or the shape is wrong, or they get untidy after a few years. Breeding has improved many of these plants to the point that they now make great hedging and screening plants for hot exposed conditions.
Some exotics like Raphiolepisalso cope with these conditions. Some of the best forms of this plant are recent releases, such as Oriental Pearl. It is ideal for use in smaller hedges, and has dark green shiny leaves and lots of white flowers in spring. Cosmic Pink is a small Raphiolepis with pink flowers that makes a nice hedge with regular pruning. Cosmic White will make a medium sized hedge with the same dark green leaves and even larger white flowers. These three plants set very little seed, making them a safer choice, and were bred by Vic Ciccolella.