Banksia ericifolia is a medium to large shrub, native to Australia; for some years this species has been divided into two varieties: B.e. var. ericifolia and B. e. var. macrantha, which has slightly larger inflorescences than the previous one. These are vigorous and rustic shrubs, fast growing, which reach 3-4 meters in height in a few years, in fact in Australia they are often used in hedges. The foliage is small, evergreen, greyish green in color, shaped like small needles, covered with a fine down. From late spring to summer it produces innumerable large inflorescences, in the shape of erect panicles, up to 25-30 cm high, of yellow or orange color; the banksia inflorescences have a characteristic shape, similar to that of the callistemon flowers. Once wilted the flowers on the plant remain the fruits, of the species of hard pine cones, of true color, which contain the seeds. These large shrubs have a very decorative and exotic appearance, and yet are well suited to European gardens.
Banksia ericifolia plants are planted in a sunny or partially shady place; do not fear frost, even if intense, but it is advisable to place them in a place not too subject to winter winds. They withstand high summer temperatures and salty winds, but not those that are too cold. They also have the ability to regrow after a fire.
From March to October the Banksia ericifolia plants should be watered sporadically, leaving the soil dry for a few days before watering again. During the cold months we can suspend the watering, intervening only in case of prolonged drought, especially in the case of specimens grown in pots. It is good to check that water does not form at the base of the plant, which could compromise its health.
In the vegetative period it is good to provide a fertilizer for acidophilic plants once a month to give the plant all the nutrients it needs.
Banksia ericifolia prefers an acid soil, very well drained and with low water retention. In general, specific soil is used for acidophilic plants, consisting of a good part of peat, mixed with equal quantities of river sand. The specimens grown in pots should be repotted every 2-3 years to provide them with fresh soil rich in nutrients and to allow a better development of the root system.
The multiplication of this type of plant generally occurs by seed; propagation by cuttings does not always give good results, it is therefore advisable to prepare a high number of cuttings, to be buried in a soil mixed with peat and sand, to ensure proper drainage.
Banksia ericifolia: Pests and diseases
in general, Banksia ericifolia plants are resistant and are not attacked by parasites. In the case of soil with a very high pH they can suffer from ferric chlorosis and, for this reason, it is advisable to intervene with specific supplements that will counteract the phenomenon, or if the plant is cultivated in pots, prepare a repotting in a soil more suited to the needs of plant.