Lilly Pilly Hedges, Trees and Plants - Growers Guide
Video Guide – Lilly Pilly
Pinnacle™ | Great for Screening
Sublime™ | Mid size tree
Height Guide – Lilly Pilly
SUBLIME™ – Grows up to 5 metres
RED HEAD™ – Grows up to 6 metres
STRAIGHT AND NARROW™ – Grows up to 5-8 metres
PINNACLE™ – Grows up to 6-10 metres
Lilly Pillies (Australian cherries) are a very popular evergreen tree or hedge that produces an edible red or purple fruit.
The fast growing Lilly pilly tree is characterised by spectacular thick foliage with a glossy sheen, which makes them ideal for use as hedges, windbreaks, as well as for attracting birds or simply as an eye-catching ornamental plant.
There is frequently a lot of confusion about the names of the various garden varieties but, as natives of the Australian rainforest, Lilly pillies generally do well in most settings and are pretty hardy.
Lilly pillies are classed under a number of different genera. Formerly known as Eugenia, they are presently classed as Acmena, Syzygium or Waterhousea but the plethora of commercial marketing names can add to the confusion.
Although Lilly pillies grow into large trees in their normal rainforest setting, they quite happily adapt to regular pruning for size and you can also obtain miniature varieties.
Lilly pilly hedges produce a marvellous display of highly fragrant white flowers in summer and the berries are perfect for preserves and jams.
Not all of the hybrids will produce fruit.
Where Should I Plant My Lilly Pilly?
Lilly pillies prefer good fertile moist soil but will still thrive in drought, full sun or semi shade and will tolerate frosts, sandy soils and coastal conditions. Lilly pillies don’t do well in wet areas so make sure there is adequate drainage.
Lilly pillies will grow quite happily as container plants although they will need regular watering, as container plants dry out very quickly.
Lilly pillies, especially the many garden varieties, produce a wonderful contrast in foliage colour from deep glossy green mature leaves to bronze, red, pink, or copper in new growth.
This colour range combined with their naturally dense growth makes them a wonderful choice for hedging. Fire resistant qualities are an added bonus when you plant Red Head™ (Acmena smithii) around the house.
Lilly pillies do a stand-out job in:
- Providing shelter from the wind
- Protecting your privacy
- Topiary planting – Lilly pillies are quite happy to be shaped and pruned
- Bringing native birds to your garden – they love the big red and purple berries
Lilly pillies can make a great addition to any area of your garden. Remember to water regularly if you are growing them in pots because they will dry out quickly and the stress will make them more prone to disease.
Lilly pilly is hardy and will do well in a wide range of soils from sandy loam to heavy clay but they do like adequate drainage. But Lilly pillies will really love you if you keep them well mulched.
Which Lilly Pilly Variety Is Best For My Needs?
The motto, ‘right plant, right place’ is firmly embedded in the Ozbreed philosophy.
We know how important your garden is to you and so we make every effort to the ideal plants and cultivars for your particular needs. We have a number of Lilly pilly varieties to suit every gardener’s needs.
All our Lilly pilly varieties have undergone the most rigorous sourcing and trialling processes.
Lilly pilly is native to Australia and although it grows as tall as 30 metres in its natural setting you can easily prune them to a much more manageable size.
Many of the garden cultivars are designed specifically for home garden use and will reach a maximum height of 5 or 6 metres or less.
Lilly pillies will be quite happy with regular pruning to keep them much lower than this.
Ozbreed proudly stock a number of the most popular Lilly pilly cultivars:
- SUBLIME™ – 5m high x 2 – 3m wide
- RED HEAD™ – 6m high x 2m wide but can be pruned down to 1.5 m
- STRAIGHT AND NARROW™ – 8m high x 1 – 1.5m wide
- PINNACLE™ – 6 – 10m high x 1 – 1.5m wide but can be pruned down to 2m
PINNACLE™ naturally adopts a tight, narrow habit that makes it perfect for hedges and tight planting areas where you don’t want to lose any more usable space than you have to.
SUBLIME™ is a really tough plant that will cope with a wide range of conditions and soil types from cold, drought, and coastal environments to sandy to heavy clay soils. Although it produces large numbers of delicate white flowers it rarely produces fruit. SUBLIME™ works well in hedging, topiary planting or as a specimen plant.
RED HEAD™ Acmena produces small white flowers that ripen into richly hued purple edible fruit. New growth begins as deep red then turning to chocolate before transforming once again into deep green glossy mature foliage. RED HEAD™ is especially useful in hedging situations thanks to its fire retardant qualities.
How Should I Prune My Lilly Pilly?
Regular pruning (yearly) is important if you want a tidier denser plant or if you desire a particular shape for a topiary garden. Regular light pruning can be useful to encourage growth down to the ground.
Some light pruning of the tips after the flowering season has finished will encourage a greater flower display the following season. Don’t leave this job too late in the season or you’ll get the opposite result.
But in many cases, if you choose the right variety for your needs, you can just let them do their thing with perhaps an occasional tidy up every couple of years.
Lilly Pilly Diseases And What Should I Look Out For?
Lilly pilly is a pretty tough hardy plant that will thrive despite drought, cold, heat, and shade but there are a few issues you need to know about.
Lilly Pilly Psyllid (Trioza eugeniae)
This psyllid is a native Australian insect that burrows inside the leaves creating pimple-like damage. Although an infestation is not likely to be fatal it is extremely ugly and will detract from the beauty of your ornamental hedge.
It is a great idea to plant a variety of Lilly Pilly that is resistant to Psyllids. SUBLIME™, RED HEAD™ and STRAIGHT AND NARROW™ varieties are naturally highly resistant against psyllids.
Scale can be a problem especially in their adult stage when they develop a waxy protective covering.
Scale suck the life giving sap from stems and leaves and can be devastating. White oil probably offers the best treatment but generally needs to be applied before the scale develop their adult protective coatings.
There are a number of types of scale in Australia clumped into two categories: soft and armoured. You can try scraping minor infestations off with your fingernails.
Ladybirds are a natural predator of scale but for serious infestations you’ll probably need to resort to a petroleum – based spray such as white oil (the oil suffocates them).
Interestingly, ants often farm scale colonies collecting their honeydew and protecting the scale from predators.
Lilly pillies are part of the Myrtle family and so Myrtle rust can be a problem. However, both the SUBLIME™ and RED HEAD™ varieties have been bred for superior myrtle rust resistance.
If you do have a problem with myrtle rust, remove and dispose of diseased foliage extremely carefully to prevent the spread of spores and spray with an approved fungicide.
Lilly pillies are hardy plants and will usually resist most diseases if you keep them well fed, watered, and healthy.
Are The Lilly Pilly Fruits Edible?
Many of the Lilly pilly varieties produce edible fruits although some of the hybrids may not be prolific fruiters or even produce any at all. The fruit does vary widely in taste from variety to variety ranging being quite tart to sweet.
Their high acid content makes them good candidates for home-made jams and preserves.