New flower crops now well accepted

The information in this document forms part of the publication Growing Australian native flowers commercially.

Acacia species

Small quantites of Acacia baileyana (Cootamundra Wattle) and A. podalyriifolia (Queensland Silver Wattle) have been sold for many years as foliage or in bud. More recently A. covenyi (Blue-bush) and A. cultriformis (Knife-leaf Wattle) have also been adopted for their very attractive foliage, and are sold both domestically and overseas. However, there is still very little Acacia sold in late bud/early flower due to:

  • a poor general understanding of how to handle this type of product;
  • lack of production of the selected ‘Florists Mimosa’ in Australia;
  • lack of selection work on other species.

Key references

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Acacia, wattle or mimosa’,  in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Agrilink Manager, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 5269 SCMC, Nambour QLD 4560.

Horlock, F  2000, Acacia cut flower and production manual, RIRDC publication 00/57.

Sedgley, M & Horlock, F  1998, ‘Acacias, cut flowers and foliage’, in The New Rural Industries — A Handbook for Farmers and Investors, RIRDC, Canberra.

Actinotis helianthi (Flannel flower)

Flannel flowers

Actinotis helianthi

Substantial improvements in the understanding of propagation requirements are allowing increased production of this crop, which bears velvety, white, daisy-like blooms. The foliage is velvety and grey. Flannel flower is best treated as a biennial crop.

With significant collaborative research and development between Mount Annan Botanic Gardens, NSW Agriculture and a number of individual flower growers, this species has started to cross the divide from bush-picked and bush-managed to field cultivation.

Strong demand for quality product exists both domestically and in Japan. However, buyer resistance exists in Europe where it is deemed similar to Edelweiss.

Major problems encountered in growing this crop involve soil drainage and root diseases. An increasing array of varieties is becoming available.

Key references

Australian Native Flower Growers & Promoters (ANFGP) Flannel Flower Forum & NSW Agriculture (collaborative effort), ‘Flannel flower forum report and cultivation notes’. Copies available from ANFGP Inc., PO Box 4327, East Gosford NSW 2250.

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Flannel flower’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Agrilink Manager, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 5269 SCMC, Nambour QLD 4560

RIRDC, Flannel flower — development of a production system, RIRDC publication No. 00/106.

von Richter, L & Offord, C  1998, ‘Flannel flowers’, in The New Rural Industries — A Handbook for Farmers and Investors, RIRDC, Canberra.

Worrall, R & Tesoriero, L  2002, ‘Flannel flowers the year round’, in Proceedings 6th Australian Wildflower Conference, 30 May–1 June 2002, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Copies available from NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Baeckea behrii

This species is a promising alternative to Thryptomene calycina and Chamelaucium, as it is frost-tolerant and flowers from October to January. This delicate-looking species generally prefers to be grown in well-drained acid soils in areas without heavy rainfall. It fails to flower well in Queensland. Other related species such as Baeckea densifolia may be better suited to the coastal areas.

Key references

Slater, AT  1996,  ‘Baeckea’, in Native Australian Plants — horticulture and uses, Johnson, K & Burchett, M (eds), University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

RIRDC, Broombrush Baeckia – prospects for cut flower commercialisation, RIRDC Publication No. 99/161.

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Baeckea’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001,   Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Cryptandra scortechinii, syn.Stenanthemum scortechinii (Corroboree flower, Snowballs)

This crop, mainly produced in Queensland, is generally sold as a fresh, dyed product. The returns have dropped in recent years because of an oversupply in September. Future development needs a greater spread of production, either through varietal selection or judicious site selection, in order to reduce the current glut during this period.

Key reference

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Corroboree flower, Snowballs’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Giant lily

Doryanthes excelsa

Doryanthes excelsa (Giant lily)

This monocot species is increasingly sought after for its long-lasting, enormous flower and its versatile strap-like leaves. Currently most of this product is picked from wild populations. The major limitations with the commercial cultivation are the long, variable, time period to flowering and a lack of understanding of the mechanisms controlling flowering.

Recent research is trialling tissue culture of floral parts as a method of inducing rapid flowering. This research needs to be continued further to determine whether precocious flowering can be induced.

Key reference

RIRDC, Micropropagation of the Gymea lily, RIRDC Publication No. 00/36.

Eriostemon/Philotheca

Eriostemon

Eriostemon/Philotheca

In the last few years most species have been removed from the genus Eriostemon and placed in Philotheca. This group provides a number of species suitable for use as cut flowers. Eriostemon australasius is an excellent cut flower, with flowers that close and remain on the plant after pollination. The flower is attractive for several weeks.

Current research on this species is evaluating the use of grafting as a means of introducing new varieties into cultivation in a form that may be grown in a range of soils. Of the other forms, one of the most promising is the Philotheca ‘Flowergirl’. This variety appears to be adaptable to a wide range of soil types and is less prone to petal drop than other philothecas. It shows quite promising early results for export shipments. Excellent breeding and selection opportunities exist for these plants.

Key reference

Slater, T et al.  2002, ‘Eriostemon australasius — capturing the variation’, in Proceedings 6th Australian Wildflower Conference, 30 May–1 June 2002, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Copies available from NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Eucalyptus species

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus foliage

Several eastern species are now well established as foliage lines, both in Australia and on the world market, for example:

  • E. cordata (Heart-leaved Silver Gum)
  • E. cinerea (Argyle Apple)
  • E. globulus (Tasmanian Blue Gum)
  • E. gunnii (Cider Gum)
  • E. perriniana (Spinning Gum)
  • E. pulverulenta (Silver-leaved Mountain Gum).

Recently a greater range of species has become available, for example:

  • E. gillii (Silver Mallee)
  • E. polyanthemos (Red Box).

There is now a trend favouring new cut-flower species, for example E. phoenicia (Scarlet Gum) and many other northern and western species. Other eucalypts are grown for their attractive buds or nuts.

Key references

Sedgely, M  1998, ‘Eucalypts — cut flowers and foliage’, in The New Rural Industries — A Handbook for Farmers and Investors, RIRDC, Canberra.

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Eucalypt species’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Horsman, C & Delaporte, K (eds)  2002, Eucalypts for floriculture — a growers’ guide, RIRDC Project No. UA-60A in conjunction with the University of Adelaide. Available from Christine Horsman, TCTV Video Productions, Post Office, Kersbrook SA 5231.

Ixodia achillaeoides

This species features terminal heads of white papery flowers and is native to coastal South Australia and Victoria. Historically it has been sold as a dried flower picked from bush stands. In the last decade it has been grown in cultivation commercially.

The species is known to be susceptible to the pathogens Verticillium dahliae, Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. cryptogea, to nematodes and to the foliage diseases botrytis and powdery mildew. However, soil fumigation, strict hygiene and appropriate use of fungicides have made this an economical crop.

With new selections coming into production and a greater understanding of production requirements, this crop can see further significant expansion, particularly as a fresh flower product. There are opportunities for this crop to be grown on a wider range of sites.

Key references

Barth, GE  1998, ‘Ixodia daisy’, in The New Rural Industries — A Handbook for Farmers and Investors, RIRDC, Canberra.

RIRDC, Varietal development and disease management of Ixodia achillaeoides for cut flower production, RIRDC Publication No. 00/186.

Ozothamnus diosmifolius (Riceflower)

Rice flower

Ozothamnus diosmifolius

This plant is a member of the daisy family and produces terminal heads of white or pink blooms. Riceflower has become a very large crop in Australian terms, largely due to a combination of effort from growers and the Department of Primary Industry, Queensland. However, the excellent varieties selected for Queensland have often been unsuitable for growers in the southern states, with large problems encountered with the fine-leaf forms.

This crop has now reached a commodity status and there is great demand for new forms and related product.

Nematodes and root diseases remain major problems, along with the larvae of Acalolepta argentatus (Crofton Weed Borer), which cause significant damage to the crown of the plant and can be a major problem in established plantings along the coast of NSW and Queensland.

Key references

Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Rice flower production guidelines for growers. Available from GrowSearch Australia.

Carson, C & Lewis, J  1997, Rice flower integrating production and marketing, Series Q197104, 48 pp., Department of Primary Industries, Queensland. Information enquiries to Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Lewis, J, Warfield, B & Tomes, R, Rice flower as an export industry — market opportunities, Information Series QI97029, 48 pp., Department of Primary Industries, Queensland. Enquiries to Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Beal, P et al.  1998, ‘Rice flower’, in The New Rural Industries – A Handbook for Farmers and Investors, RIRDC, Canberra.

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Riceflower’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Xerochrysum bracteatum,syn. Bracteantha bracteata (Strawflowers, Paper daisies)

Paper daisies

Xerochrysum bracteatum,
syn. Bracteantha bracteata

Often ignored in the past because of a lack of range of colour forms and because it is perceived to have a low value per stem, this species has started to come into its own, particularly with the development of a range of sturdy, long-stemmed, large-headed forms. A greater colour range is also becoming available.

Key references

Bunker, KV  1996, ‘Native daisies’, in Native Australian Plants — horticulture and uses, Johnson, K & Burchett, M (eds), University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Carson, C et al.  2000, ‘Everlasting daisies’, in Should I grow wildflowers?, Agrilink Horticulture Series QAL 0001, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. For more information contact Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Luff, R  2002, ‘Everlasting daisies’, in Proceedings 6th Australian Wildflower Conference, 30 May–1 June 2002, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Copies available from NSW Department of Primary Industries.