Chances are you haven’t heard of Astelia. But, you may have heard of Phormium. Both are gregarious border plants, with big scrappy foliage and vibrant colour.
However, I think Phormium had better watch it’s back, cause Astelia is set to be the next big thing. The colours are positively effervescent, shimmering in sun or part shade. It’s worth saying that Astelia don’t quite become a thug like bigger Phormium occasionally do. It’s a little more, let’s say, well behaved…
How to grow Astelia ‘Red Shadow’:
Flowering time: June to July
How was Astelia ‘Red Shadow’ created?
‘Red Shadow’ is really quite glorious. It’s like a grass, but with more attitude! It was bred by experienced grower, Lindsey Hatch, who gardens on the other side of the world! Lindsay is based in Auckland, New Zealand, and enjoys specialising in New Zealand flora, much of which suits our similar European climate.
Most breeding begins with a large gene pool, and that’s just what Lindsay did, amassing a large selection of species before he began work.
But, he didn’t have to get his hands dirty, as he let the bees do the work. The meeting of two species, Astelia nervosa and Astelia nivicola gave birth to the plant now known as ‘Red Shadow’! Seed was collected from the first hybrid result, grown on, and re-selected for strength and colour. The whole process takes about four years, and that’s before production trials.
What’s different about this plant?
‘Red Shadow’ is really quite glorious. It’s like a grass, but with more attitude! Did you know that, in the wild, Astelia often grows as ‘epiphytes’ (living off trees). Although, in the home garden, it’s perfectly happy in the soil, or indeed patio containers.
It’s tough, durable, hardy and unfused by pest or disease. Thought not a concern for Northern Europe, it’s also resistant to humidity, so this really is a plant you can grow in a huge range of climates. The foliage is definitely eye-catching, and becomes even more vibrant with beams of sunlight.
Where can you plant Astelia ‘Red Shadow’?
Astelia have a preference for fertile, well-drained soil, avoid winter wet at all costs. Plants will be hardy down to -5C, so keep an eye on them if you often dip below! Of course, plants are well suited to a Mediterranean style display, but don’t underestimate Astelia. It will also grow quite well in a slightly shady spot too!
Where can you buy Astelia ‘Red Shadow’ plants?
Plants will soon be available in garden centres across Europe, or it’s available at Burncoose for mail order right now.
See every Plant of the Month here.