What is a Lilly Pilly?
Lilly Pilly is an evergreen plant that can be grown as a tree or hedge. The standard height of a Lilly Pilly tree is 30m — quite large for a yard in the suburbs! For smaller home gardens, dwarf varieties are more advisable when planting a Lilly Pilly hedge. These can still grow into small trees, so pruning is a must.
When you have these native Australian plants in your garden, you’re sure to get glossy foliage that’s eye-catching for both humans and birds alike. Because the leaves are thick and dense, Lilly Pillies are also useful as windbreaks. Fragrant white flowers and berries are another thing to get excited about when you plant Lilly Pillies in your garden.
Lilly Pilly varieties are placed under 3 major classifications:
Acmena Lilly Pillies are known for their upright foliage and smaller leaves.
This variety is known among gardening circles to be susceptible to psyllids. There are psyllid-resistant varieties, however, which makes maintaining Lilly Pillies a lot easier.
Waterhousea Lilly Pilly are also known as Weeping Lilly Pilly because of their graceful drooping habit. This variety can be grown as an evergreen tree, but is just as beautiful when pruned to size regularly.
Which Lilly Pilly is best for your garden?
Lilly Pillies are popular because of their evergreen foliage and edible red or purple fruit. With the dazzling array of sub-varieties, how will you know which one is right for your garden? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common cultivars in Australia:
This low-maintenance variety grows up to 1m in height and width, making it a popular hedge choice among garden owners.
If you want a flowering plant to add interest to your garden, the Aussie Boomer is the perfect variety for you. This fast-growing variety starts out with red leaves, which eventually turn green as it matures. Aussie Boomer trees can grow up to 3m in height.
The Baby Boomer Lilly Pilly grows up to 1.5m in height and is perfect as hedges, topiaries, or specimen plants. New growth for this variety starts out as bronze or red, then progresses into dark green when the tree matures.
The Brush Cherry is a medium-sized Lilly Pilly variety that can grow up to 5m in height. It is fairly hardy, and can adapt to different weather conditions. This ornamental plant bears small white flowers and edible pink-red fruit. Because of its dense, dark green foliage, the Brush Cherry can also be grown as a bonsai, hedge, or topiary.
A lovely cultivar, the Bush Christmas has orange leaves that turn green as the plant matures. This Syzygium variety can grow up to 6m tall, and makes for effective screens, windbreaks, and hedges. Prune your Bush Christmas tree regularly to maintain it at a height of 1m or lower.
Cascade Lilly Pillies are considered one of the most beautiful Lilly Pillies. This graceful weeping variety produces stunning pink flowers in summer, and has pink and red leaves that transform into a glossy green colour as the plant matures. Standing at 3m tall when fully grown, it’s just the right size for a garden.
This hardy Acmena variety has dense shrubbery and vibrant cherry leaves that turn glossy green as the plant matures. A fully grown Cherry Surprise can reach a height of 3m, but you can prune it according to your desired size during spring and summer.
The Compact Lilly Pilly, as its name suggests, is easy to shape and prune. Growing up to 2m tall when fully mature, the Compact makes for a great hedge in smaller-sized gardens. You’ll see new growth the colour of bronze or red on the onset, before it slowly turns to dark green as the plant ages.
The Glossy Lilly Pilly is a popular choice for screens because of its height and compact habit. It can grow up to 5m when fully mature, with foliage that starts out as orange and turns into deep green over time. This plant produces white flowers in spring, which give way to dark red Lilly Pilly fruit.
Like many Lilly Pilly varieties, the Northern Form Lilly Pilly is a beautiful plant to have in your garden. Its white flowers bloom profusely in spring and become dark red Lilly Pilly berries during the fruiting season. With a compact habit and a height of 5m when mature, the Northern Form Lilly Pilly can be grown as screens and hedges.
The Red Head is an Acmena variety that is known for its small white flowers that turn into edible violet fruit. This Lilly Pilly’s new growth starts out as a deep red hue, then turns into brown and subsequently into deep green when the plant is fully mature. Its unique fire retardant quality makes it a good hedging choice for garden owners living in bushfire-prone areas. While the Red Head Lilly Pilly is not totally impervious to extreme fires, it can still offer protection in minor cases.
When you want a tight and narrow hedge, the Pinnacle Lilly Pilly is the right choice for you. It makes the most of any space due to its growth density, and is particularly useful when your garden has a smaller area.
Resilience makes for a great screen — it is psyllid-resistant and grows up to 2-3m in height. It’s just the right size when you want some privacy in your garden.
This hardy variety is well-loved among many gardeners for its tolerance of cold, drought, and coastal conditions. Unlike other varieties, Sublime Lilly Pillies don’t bear fruit — what you’ll get instead are dainty white flowers. This variety can be grown as a hedge or topiary, and does fairly well in a lot of soil types.
Dwarf Lilly Pilly varieties
Dwarf Lilly Pilly varieties are just what you need when you have a smaller space in your garden. Here are some cultivars you can ask your local nursery for:
- Dwarf Magenta Cherry (green)
- Dwarf Magenta Cherry (red)
Lilly Pilly care and maintenance
Whether you’re growing psyllid-resistant varieties or regular cultivars, a Lilly Pilly is sure to add beauty to your garden. They are also a joy to take care of, as Lilly Pillies are hardy and easy to maintain. These are native Australian flowering plants after all, so they are used to hot weather conditions. Prune them to your desired shape and size, or get miniature varieties to suit a smaller garden space.
One thing to watch out for when gardening and maintaining Lilly Pilly is psyllids. These pests burrow into the leaves of your plants and cause them to look pimply and unsightly. The best option here is to have your Lilly Pillies treated professionally to stop the infestation and prevent further damage. With some professional pest management and pruning, you’ll be sure to enjoy having a healthy Lilly Pilly hedge all year round.