Chamaelaucium Uncinatum [kam-ay-LAU-see-um, un-sin-AY-tum], alternatively spelled as Chamelaucium uncinatum, known as the wax flower is a flowering shrub from the myrtle family Myrtaceae.
Other plants in the Myrtaceae family include:
- Leptospermum scoparium (New Zealand Tea Tree)
- Metrosideros excelsa (New Zealand Christmas Tree)
- Callistemon (Bottle Brush Tree)
French botanist René Louiche Desfontaines first defined the genus Chamaelaucium in 1819.
The second part of the botanical name comes from the Latin word uncinatus meaning hooked, referring to the hook or spine-shaped tips of the leaves.
The plant is native to Western Australia where it is seen growing in a range of habitats ranging from coastal areas and alongside swamps to plains and hillsides.
But, it is fairly hardy and is also naturalized in some southwestern parts of Western Australia.
It grows easily in the Mediterranean region and Sydney.
In Sydney, however, it tends to be short-lived due to higher humidity levels.
Chamaelaucium waxflower is generally known by the following common names:
- Geraldton wax
- Geraldton waxflower
Several popular Chamelaucium varieties include:
- Purple Pride – dark reddish-purple, not patented cultivar
- Escondido Rose – flowers of a deep rose color
- Album – white flowers
- Bundara Excelsior – large, pink flowers
- University – rose-purple flowers with red stems
Waxflower Chamaelaucium Care
Size & Growth
Wax flowers grow as an erect, dense, evergreen shrub reaching anywhere between 18″ inches to over 6’ feet tall.
The plant is generally hardy and easy to grow but tends to fall over as it grows in height. Therefore, it often needs support.
The light-green, non-spiny, and thin needle-like leaves of this myrtle species are fragrant when crushed.
In areas where it has been naturalized, the plant can sometimes be highly invasive.
It is also considered an environmental weed in some parts of Western Australia.
Flowering and Fragrance
The plant produces small white or pink aromatic blooms from June to November, which make a beautiful display, particularly in the fall when most other plants die or become dormant.
Some cultivars of waxflower are also known to produce purple flowers. Some of the newer hybrids now have different blooming periods with red, white, and pink color tones on the same plant.
The varieties growing in the wild generally produce white flowers with varying tinges of mauve.
Newly planted Geraldton wax plants can take up to two years to begin flowering.
While the plant has a long blooming period, it is in full bloom in spring and early summer.
The Chamelaucium flowers are open-petalled and glossy or waxy, hence, the common name waxflower.
They also have a resemblance to the flowers of tea trees (Leptospermum). The plant is aromatic and fills the air with a wonderful scent when the oil glands in the leaves are crushed.
Due to their beautiful colors and long vase life (once removed from the plant), the flowers are widely used in the cut flower industry, by florist designs of flower arrangements and bouquets.
Light & Temperature
Geraldton waxflower prefers warm weather and a sunny position, but will also tolerate part shade and cold weather.
It can tolerate temperatures down to 28° degrees Fahrenheit (-2° Celsius) and can even survive light frost if planted in a warm and protected site.
However, the plant cannot tolerate high humidity levels and tend to die quickly.
It flowers best when planted in full sun. In the United States, it is only hardy to USDA hardiness zone 9a.
Watering and Feeding
Wax flowers are highly drought-tolerant and once established require minimal amounts of water.
Apply a slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting and then feed annually with the same fertilizer in spring.
Soil & Transplanting
Chamelaucium Geraldton wax plant grows best in sandy soil with good drainage, but will also tolerate poor soils amended with a generous amount of organic matter.
For poorly drained soils, enhance percolation by adding sand or any other gritty material.
Grooming and Maintenance
Waxflower is a low-maintenance plant but responds well to pruning.
Prune plants back by 1/3 their size after their bloom period to encourage new bushy growth and more flowers.
How To Propagate Chamaelaucium Wax Flower
While Geraldton wax is propagated from both seeds and stem cuttings, cuttings are almost always used for this purpose because propagation from seeds is highly difficult.
The seeds of Chamelaucium plant do not germinate until they are provided the perfect growing conditions.
Cuttings, on the other hand, root very easily.
For best results, take cuttings from the current season’s growth during fall or winter and plant at a location where they get full sun or light shade.
Also, apply a slow-release fertilizer when planting.
Chamaelaucium Pest or Diseases
While Geraldton waxflower isn’t susceptible to many pests and diseases, it can occasionally get affected by fungal dieback.
The colorful and fragrant flowers of Chamaelaucium species attract butterflies, bees, insects, and honey-eating birds.
Uses For Wax Flower Chamaelaucium
Due to the attractive flower color, waxflower plants are widely grown and used for ornamental purposes and the floral industry.
Whether grown individually or in groups, they make a beautiful addition to gardens, hedges, roadsides, parks, and natural reserves.
They are also a popular choice for wind protection.