Leucadendron [Lew-kuh-DEN-dron] is a genus of flowering plants, belonging to the family: Proteaceae (protea).
There are around 80 varieties of this plant, including:
- Leucadendron Salignum
- Leucadendron Laureolum
- Inca Gold
- Leucadendron Argenteum
This evergreen shrub is a native to South Africa but is also easily grown in different parts of the world and introduced to New Zealand in the 1960s.
The Greek name of this plant is a somewhat misnomer – ‘Leukos’ means white, and ‘dendron’ means tree.
Although white Leucadendrons are found, these plants mostly have vivid colors.
These plants are famous for their bright colors and low maintenance.
They are an ideal choice for drought-prone, hot weather gardens.
The common names of this plant include:
- Silver tree
- Safari Sunset
Leucadendron Plant Care
Size & Growth
The Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ is a small shrub or tree, which is creeping or erect.
The majority of the species of this plant are evergreen shrubs and grow about 3’ feet tall, at times even as tall as 9’ to 10’ feet.
A few varieties also grow into medium-sized trees, up to 52’ feet high.
All have attractive foliage with lush green leaves and small, bright-colored flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
Every stalk of this plant produces inflorescences, which are often 12” inches wide.
The flower is small, but its vividly colored petals are modified leaves or bracts.
These plants are dioecious – meaning they have both male and female plants.
The male and female flowers have dense heads around the tips of the branches.
The male flowers are more attractive, but the female flowers produce seeds and cones.
Light & Temperature
The Leucadendron plants grow best in full sun. They also prefer a humid environment and need good air circulation.
It is best to plant them in open spaces and avoid crowding them with other plants.
The USDA hardiness zone of this plant is 9 to 11.
Watering and Feeding
The Silver Tree is drought tolerant and must only be watered during the dry periods.
Water the plant deeply once a week. Avoid getting the leaves wet and make sure the leaves aren’t touching other plants.
The plant needs sufficient space to properly grow and avoid diseases.
It rarely needs feeding. However, give plants a half-strength mixture of any natural liquid fertilizer annually.
Soil & Transplanting
For optimal growth, you should place this plant in a well-draining spot.
It grows well in any type of soil as long as it has good drainage.
However, it prefers acidic soils slightly more than others.
Grooming and Maintenance
This plant type is not difficult to grow.
As long as you provide it with ideal growing conditions, it will continue growing with little to no maintenance.
Prune them heavily back after blooming to a few inches above the nodes.
It will result in bushier and faster new growth.
Regularly weed and spread mulch around the plant to prevent weeds and decrease its watering needs.
If you are living outside the hardiness zone of these plants, growing them in a container is still possible.
Be sure to overwinter it indoors or use it as an annual in your outdoor garden.
How to Propagate Leucadendron Plant
The propagation of this plant is done using semi-ripe cuttings or seeds.
The ideal time of sowing is typically around the spring or autumn season.
Opt for autumn if the summers are dry and hot, winters are wet and moderate.
Sow in spring if you live in colder climates where late summers are not harsh.
Make sure the medium has good drainage; sow the seeds as deep as its size.
If the soil mixture is heavy, like clay, add in gypsum and pumice sand to enhance the drainage.
You may use a vermiculite mixture to cover the seeds as it works excellent in retaining the moisture and controlling the temperature.
Keep the soil moist, but ensure it doesn’t get wet as this will result in seed rotting.
Water if the growing mixture is drying out.
The germination process will take 21 to 60 days as per the conditions and temperatures.
Leucadendron Plant Pest or Diseases
This plant doesn’t experience severe pest and disease issues if you leave sufficient space for air circulation.
The major problem for these plants is root rot, and controlling it is rather tricky.
Obviously prevention is the best option.
Ensure the plant grows in a well-draining mixture and has good air circulation.
When pruning the plant, be sure to use clean tools to prevent any infected material and soil from entering the plant.
Leucadendron Plant Uses
These plants look stunning with other garden plants such as the Leucospermum, Banksia, and Grevillea (silk oak), mainly due to their bright colors.
Their eccentric bracts make beautiful cut flowers.
The bigger varieties look attractive on their own as well.
These plants are also used in different floral arrangements.
Pair them with ornamental grasses, pines, dwarf conifers, and succulents, like Echeveria, Euphorbia, Senecio, and ice plant in a Mediterranean garden.