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Calyx Horticultural Services presents

Into Horticulture

Issue 17   December 2014

Plant & Garden News

Open Gardens Australia to Close

One of the biggest news items on the gardening scene in Australia this year has been the announcement from Open Gardens Australia (previously called Australia's Open Garden Scheme) that it will be shutting down next year at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

More on this development and a catch-up on other news in the next issue


Remember Cut Flowers? (Continued...)

Last time, the old-fashioned practice of picking flowers for the house from our own gardens was raised here. Continuing on that theme, let's talk about why and how the garden industry could get involved in promoting a revival of this simple pleasure.

The most obvious advantage is that it provides homeowners with an added motivation to grow plants and a greater perception of returned value from time and money spent on their gardens.

Sadly, modern lifestyles and urban environments result in many people having little contact with any plants at all. Floral decoration could give such people, including children, more opportunities for close-up interaction with plants and even lessons about pollination and where food comes from. (More houseplants could also help here, although most don't flower.)

Nurseries and their marketing partners could assist by suggesting ways their plants could be used for indoor decoration on tags and other promotional material. This could be an additional selling proposition for plants that aren't typically thought of as candidates for floristry.

Ideas for using unconventional material might include float bowls, one-night-only table decoration, or dried. It might be the foliage, stems or fruits that are useful rather than the flowers, depending on the species. Provide instructions on how to harvest and prepare for best results.

Consumers could also be reminded that outdoor plants in containers can be brought inside for short periods at the peak of flowering.

Those gardeners going down the "grow your own" and sustainability route could be directed to edible flowers or those species favoured by bees and other pollinators. Further down that track, some of those growers might in turn will be looking to convert veggie beds beds to less labour-intensive ornamentals which nevertheless give something back to both gardener and environment.

Making homegrown cut flowers fashionable again might even increase sales of commercial cut flowers, too, by reminding everyone how they bring life to a home and how lovely they are as a gift. Especially after every home is saturated with smartphones and tablets!

Here's hoping you enjoy part two of the article on using Grevillea as cut flowers, and wishing you all the best for 2015.

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Feature Article

Grevilleas as Cut Flowers - Part Two

Using grevilleas from your garden

Part One in Issue 16 took a look at the take-up of grevilleas by the cut flower trade. However, you might have some growing in your yard. Have you ever tried them in a vase?

Although Grevillea flowers are among the showiest of Australian-derived ornamentals, the genus overall perform rather poorly after cutting. Research and development is being done to improve their performance in commercial floristry. Following are some tips gleaned from the professionals which may help you enjoy your own home-grown grevilleas indoors as well as out.


Research has shown some species and cultivars perform better than others, so if you are especially keen on cutting flowers from the garden, select varieties that are already known to known to perform relatively well and are used by the trade.

'Sylvia', 'Moonlight', 'Majestic' are cultivars that should be readily obtainable by the home gardener. G. pteridifolia, G. sessilis and G. whiteana are species that have also been reported as having relatively long vase lives [1].

A grevillea known as 'Spiderman' in Israel is commercially grown there for the European market [2]. This is a cultivar of, or possibly the straight species of, Grevillea whiteana [3] or the very similar Grevillea hodgei [4].

To date, most of the commercially popular cultivars are of tropical origin and so their cultivation will be limited to warm districts. If you can't grow the above in your climate, you may have to to experiment with other species.

When to pick

Harvesting at the correct stage is key to achieving good vase life. The blooms should be picked when fully developed but before the styles have fully emerged from the florets. 10% to 100% of the styles on the inflorescence should be in the looped stage, with remaining florets in the splitting stage [5,6].

Inflorescence on the left of the image is suitable for picking. All the styles are looped or soon to emerge.

The other bloom, with 100% of styles emerged, is too old.

Other measures

To improve the performance of your cut grevilleas, try these techniques of the cut flower trade [5,7,8]:
      Remove excess leaves to reduce transpiration
      Place flowers in a cool but draught-free spot
      Check water levels daily because flowers can use a lot of water
      Use a commercial cut-flower food, or change water every second day
      Cut 2cm off the base of the stem daily to remove blockages

In northern parts of Australia (i.e. tropical/subtropical), the flowers reportedly last longer when harvested in the autumn and winter compared to the spring and summer.

As discussed in Part One, Grevillea baileyana foliage has been used commercially for its interesting leaf shapes and colour as well as long vase life. So try experimenting with grevillea foliage, too, mixed with grevillea flowers or with other native or exotic blooms.

In Conclusion

Next time you're purchasing cut flowers, you might like to consider grevilleas for something a little different with an Australian flavour. Meanwhile, if you're growing grevilleas, why not try bringing some of their beauty indoors?

References and other sources

[1] Vase life characteristics of selected Grevillea (Abstract) Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, CSIRO Publishing
[2] Potential or very new flower crops NSW Department of Primary Industries
[3] Commercial Growing of Cut Flowers Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
[4] Grevillea Study Group Newsletter No.57 Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
[5] Quality specifications for Australian wildflowers. Cultivar: 'Moonlight' Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
[6] Tropical grevilleas vase life better than expected. Australian Horticulture, Sept 1996 p43-45
[7] Stem end blockage in cut Grevillea 'Crimson Yul-lo' inflorescences University of Queensland
[8] Postharvest Handling of Australian Flowers from Australian Native Plants and Related Species Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

For more background information about grevilleas in general see the list of links on
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