If there’s a trademark symbol of the Australian yard, it has to be the lilly pilly. Lilly pillies are a family of versatile shrubs and trees that are native to the whole Australian continent. In fact, there are three different species of lilly pillies thriving in Australia: Acmena, Syzgium and Waterhouse. However, the Acmena Smithii species is usually the one that’s referred to when one talks about the lilly pilly, simply because it’s so widespread, being a fantastic choice for screens and hedges, as well as a charming feature plant in garden beds or pots.
The lilly pilly is a wonderful evergreen shrub with characteristic glossy green leaves. From spring to early summer, the plant has flushes of colourful flowers ranging from fluffy white to a red-brown hue. And once the flowers fall off, they are followed by long lasting berries that come in a variety of colours such as red, purple or white. These berries are the reason the lilly pilly is nicknamed the Australian cherry.
In the wild, the Acmena Smithii can grow up to an amazing 30 meters. So, no wonder its other nickname is the “Neighbours Be Gone” tree. Once established as a hedge or a screen, this lilly pilly can grow two or more meters each year. However, the reason homeowners prefer Acmena Smithii as the perfect choice for privacy, is the fact that it has fine, dense, deep green foliage which is easily clipped and shaped into every desired shape. Its height and dense foliage also provide a nice, refreshing shade from the summer heat.
The nice thing about the lilly pilly is that it is very easy to take care of. This plant can grow in a wide range of soil types and in all kinds of conditions, regardless whether it’s in full sun or in shade. It’s also very tolerant to droughts, which are a common problem during the summer, as well as heavy rain and storms. But of course, the more sun, water and nutrient rich soil, the faster it will grow which is important if you’re looking for a fast growing hedge or screen.
In addition, you can maximise the growth and health of the plant by fertilising it with manure, compost or an organic fertiliser during the spring, summer and autumn months. During the same period, doses of eco-seaweed and eco-aminogrow every 2-4 weeks can greatly enhance the growth and increase the plant’s resilience to pests. The most common pests that affect lilly pillies are psyllids, scale, mites, mealybugs, and lilly pilly beetles.