Since writing about sheep manure the other day I thought I might continue the ‘sheepish’ theme and show off my very woolly, woolly bush. It’s a garden mainstay here in the South-West of WA for a few reasons. I can’t remember a garden where we haven’t planted one.

The Albany Woolly Bush steals its name from a town where it grows indigenously 4.5hrs drive south of Busselton. It’s a coastal plant that neither needs much water or copious amounts of attention. In fact, it seemingly thrives on neglect. It doesn’t need rich, loamy soil. Instead it prefers well-draining sandy soils with limestone rock that litter the loam.

Albany Woolly Bush

The silky, velvet foliage of the Albany Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus)

Growing Issues for an Adenanthos sericeus

And it’s the lack of rock that becomes its downfall. It’s not uncommon to find these shrubs taking up horizontal space after a spate of gusty winds. Their limp root system combined with their non-aerodynamic foliage make them great candidates for toppling over. They actually need the rock to anchor their roots. Otherwise, finding a sheltered corner of the garden might be your next option.

While the Woolly Bush, Adenanthos sericeus, flowers during late winter – early spring, its blooms are completely insignificant. Even with their shades of red one might expect that the contrast on the green foliage might be more pronounced, yet that’s not the case. In fact, you would need to search through the foliage to find them or at least be very close to the shrub to spot one.

But flowers aren’t the reason why the woolly bush is so endeared. It’s the foliage and the justification for it’s name that is sought after. If you’re into tree hugging then this 2-3m shrub is the pinnacle of hug-able plants. The foliage is super smooth and so soft that thinking it is actually wool is very conceivable.

Propagating the Woolly Bush

I haven’t had much success propagating this form of Adenthanos. Actually, the phrase ‘much success’ is clearly an overstatement because frankly, I’ve had NO success with this plant. I can tell you what doesn’t work and that is soft-wood and hard-wood cuttings (though finding hard-wood on a woolly bush isn’t the easiest of tasks).

My next attempt will be either air or soil-layering techniques because they just don’t seem to take with straight cuttings. I will let you know whether I have any success in getting these going.

Photo Credit: ClareSnow Flickr via Compfight cc