The waratah (telopea speciosissima), a member of the Proteacea family, is one of the most stunning plants found blooming in the wild in southern Australia from October until November. The waratah is large shrub or small tree that grows about 6m (~10 ft) tall and produces large, showy bright red or pink flower heads, comprised of 10-240 individual flowers. Flower size can range from 6-15 cm (2-6 in). Leaves are oblong in shape and dark green in colour.
As beautiful as they are, the waratah is one of the most difficult plants to cultivate! But that hasn’t stopped gardeners from trying. The proper soil conditions and climate are the keys to growing waratahs successfully. Patience also important, as it can take a few years before the plant will flower. Plants can be grown from cuttings, but the easiest way to grow them is from seed. Seeds will germinate 2-3 weeks after sowing. Seedlings can take up to 5 years to flower, while cuttings take only 2 years.
It does best in partial shade in poor, sandy soil. Waratahs will also need regular watering; the roots should never dry out. They also need heavy pruning once the shrubs are established. About 3/4 of the plant should be pruned immediately after flowering to encourage future blooms.
Waratah, with their long, sturdy stems, make excellent, long lasting cut flowers! These exotic beauties will add a burst of colour and drama to any floral arrangement! This beautiful, attention grabber will definitely make a bold statement when sent as gift! For the freshest cut flower, look for waratahs with the least number of open florets and leaves that are lush and green. To extend its vase life, keep flowers cool and replace water daily.
Climate Zone: Temperate Zones
Fun Flower Facts about the Waratah:
- This flower is the floral emblem for the State of New South Wales, which was officially named in 1962.
- The name waratah comes from the Eora Aboriginal people, the first inhabitants of Sydney.
- Aboriginals used to make medicine from the flowers.
- Its scientific name means “most beautiful plant seen from afar.”
- In the language of flowers, the waratah means beautiful.
- Waratahs are known to be resilient plants in their native home, surviving bushfires.
- Waratahs produce an abundance of nectar, attracting birds.