Aroma Gardens Landscape Design
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Plant of the Week 24/12/2009: Ceratopetalum gummiferum

Happy Christmas Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2010 to all of my readers from Meryl.

What better way is there to get into the Aussie Christmas spirit than to cut a few sprays of one's New South Wales Christmas Bush for indoor decoration!

Culture: NSW Christmas Bush The iconic Ceratopetalum gummiferum can be seen in bushland and gardens throughout the east coast and ranges of Australia but occurs more commonly along the New South Wales (NSW) coast.
NSW Christmas Bush habitat is Open Forests, along Sandstone and Shale slopes that make up the sides of a gully, basin or catchment. Emulate these growing conditions and you can't go wrong.
Although the NSW Christmas Bush is a small tree that predominantly grows between 3 to 5 metres, along the Northern section of the Wakehurst Parkway, Oxford Falls growing parallel to Middle Creek, Ceratopetalum gummiferum can be seen up to the phenomenal height of 12 metres tall! NSW Christmas Bushes enjoy free-draining, slightly acidic soil along the slopes of a natural watershed. (zones 9 - 10)

Position: NSW Christmas Bush Mature NSW Christmas Bushes like full sun for most of the day with a few hours of slightly dappled light during summer afternoons or mornings. Immature plants require dappled light for most of the day and must be protected against frost in winter. Adequate moisture throughout Spring to Autumn will extend the flowering season markedly.

Flowers: The small and insignificant creamish-white flowers of Ceratopetalum gummiferum appear in late Spring, but we all eagerly await the time after pollination; when the sepals grow into their bright reddish-pink display.
Sprays of Ceratopetalum gummiferum for indoor decoration are best cut in the very early morning before the sun touches the plant. When pruning for indoor decoration avoid cutting the crown leader because "topping" damages specimen trees, instead cut back to a healthy lateral branch that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed this will induce growth of more lateral buds and an even better display the following year.

Care: Ceratopetalum gummiferum should be grown in well drained, sandy or sandy loam soils. For an abundance of flowers and optimum growth test soil pH and if required add Iron chelates or Sulphate of Iron according to the packet's directions to bring the pH down to 6.6.

Propagation: Ceratopetalum gummiferum can be grown from seeds or cuttings. To ensure the bract colour stays true to the parent, grow from cuttings.