Green Thumb: There's gold in the air
THE golden pendas are brilliant this year. I'm sure you will have noticed them - shrubs or smallish trees - and right now they are absolutely smothered in bright yellow flowers.
I swear there are more flowers than leaf on the large specimen in the carpark at the nursery, and every morning it is full of lorikeets and bees feasting on the nectar.
Golden pendas have beautiful glossy, dark green leaves about 15cm long, often with delightful red or bronze tones in the new growth.
The flowers, with masses of brilliant yellow stamens, are held in large clusters on the tips of the branches.
Each cluster contains several blooms up to 5cm in diameter. The peak flowering time is now, but spot flowering can occur at any time of the year.
As the plant matures, it will develop quite lovely rough bark that contrasts beautifully with the brilliant flowers and foliage.
The golden penda (xanthostemon chrysanthus ) is endemic to coastal far north Queensland, from Townsville to Cape York, where it is mostly found in moist positions close to waterways.
So I wonder whether this year's spectacular flowering is a result of the heavy rain we experienced in March.
In a rainforest, golden pendas get pretty big, up to 20 metres tall, but in a garden situation they are much smaller, rarely growing taller than about 12 metres. But if that's still too big for your garden, look for one of the more compact forms, with names like Expo Gold and Fairhill Gold.
These ones grow to only three to four metres, but still have the same gorgeous glossy foliage and blooms.
Golden pendas are a great garden plant, growing really well in a sunny to partly shaded position. They make a beautiful specimen tree or shrub, and can also be pruned after flowering to form a lovely hedge. Pruning will encourage a bushier growth habit, which means you will have a better screen, and also more flowering tips for next season.
Being a rainforest tree, they do prefer rich soil and adequate moisture, but they are tolerant and adaptable. In my garden, I find that they are tolerant of dry spells once established, so long as I keep them well mulched.
They are not particularly fussy, and will respond well if you give them a complete plant food a couple of times a year.
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