Which Lilly Pilly is Best for You?
The native Australian Syzygium – commonly called lilly pilly – is a superb hedging and screening plant in all situations. It has beautiful coloured new growth, in shades of cream and peach, orange, bronze and copper, even bright candy pink.
The roots are non-invasive, which means you can plant it close to buildings without fear of disturbance. It’s a native, so it copes with everything our harsh climate can throw at it. The dense shiny foliage looks beautiful throughout the year, and is evergreen.
Syzygiums are easy-going regarding climate, rainfall and soil type.You can clip your plants to shape – they respond very well to even quite harsh pruning - or you can leave them to grow naturally. For an added bonus, lilly pillys have fluffy cream, white or pink flowers and similarly-coloured berries which are loved by our native birds - and some make delicious bushtucker snacks too!
Psyllid Resistant Varieties
Some areas of Australia are home to psyllid bugs, a kind of sapsucker. These are not harmful but can produce unsightly blemishes on certain lilly pilly varieties.These varieties are completely resistant to psyllids, so you can grow them as feature shrubs with complete peace of mind:
- Acmena smithii Minor - The most resistant to psyllid. Grows to 3m unclipped. Bronze new leaves, cream flowers, pink berries.
- Acmena Allyn Magic - One of the best available lilly pillies, with copper new growth. Excellent clipped, will grow to only 90cm unclipped - a good substitute for (or pairing with) Murraya Min a Min.
- Syzygium luehmannii (riberry). Great bushtucker tree, as well as very ornamental and wildlife-friendly, with its abundant pink berries.
- Hinterland Gold - Unclipped this will grow to 4m – with a nice compact natural shape which doesn’t need pruning if you have the space. Golden glossy new leaves appear through the year.
- Resilience - Bushy, to 5m tall and 2m wide. Pale green new leaves. Lots of white flowers and white berries.
Psyllid Hardy VarietiesYou may get a little psyllid damage with these varieties, but they are largely resistant, and in a long acreage hedge that's regularly clipped, you may not notice:
- Aussie Compact - Grows to 3m unclipped. Excellent for topiary - compact and dense as its name suggests.
- Aussie Southern - Very fast growing columnar lilly pilly excellent for narrow spaces. Grows to 8m unclipped, excellent for topiary. White flowers, dark red berries glossy leaves.
- Elite - Very similar to Aussie Compact. One of the best hedging lilly pillies. Naturally dense, good for topiary. Unclipped this will grow to 3-5m depending on location. New leaves are light green.
- Glasshouse Select - Tough, reliable. Dense foliage that clips well for hedges and topiary.
- Tiny Trev - Low to 1.2m. Excellent for topiary and bonsai, fancy clipping, dwarf hedges. Compact.
Popular VarietiesIf you don’t have to worry about psyllids where you live, you can plant these lilly pilly varieties, which are still beautiful and full of good garden benefits.
- Bush Christmas - Popular fine-leaf lilly pilly. New growth is bright orangey-red especially in brighter sun. Not so frost tolerant as other varieties. Small hedge 2-4m unclipped but can be clipped as low as 1m.
- Syzygium hemilampra (blush satinash) - Tall lilly pilly grows to 4m unclipped and a full bushy 2.5m wide. Apricot new growth through the year. White flowers.
- Waterhousea - Fast growing tree to 10m, depending on available water or rain. Elegant weeping foliage and larger leaves than most other lilly pillies. Excellent for tall screens. New growth leaves are pale green to bronze.
If you have non-resistant varieties in your garden already, you can contain any potential psyllid bugs by pruning your hedges regularly and burning the clippings rather than composting them. Spray new growth with Confidor or MaxGuard or organic Eco-Oil to comabt chewing insects, and feed regularly with a seaweed solution such as Eco-Seaweed to boost plant health.