Plant Profiles Verticordia Genus

The verticordia genus is endemic to Australia with the majority of the 97 species occurring in the south west corner of the country. One species is found on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and three in the tropical north of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. All verticordias are woody shrubs with small leaves which contain oil glands. Verticordias (common name feather-flower) belong to the myrtle family Myrtaceae. They prefer an acid soil and are found on sandy or gravelly soils on sand heaths and shrubland.

They are popular in floral arrangements and research is being undertaken to enable commercial propagation to be more successful. Some species are being grafted onto Darwinia citriodora rootstock.

The leaves appear in alternating pairs and the attractive flowers come in a range of whites, yellows, red and mauves. The feathery appearance of the flowers comes from the deep divisions of the calyx. The petals may also be lobed or divided.

Verticordia chrysantha grows to 60cm with a similar spread. It has an erect habit and hails from the sandplain region of southern Western Australia. The leaves are small and linear. During spring, feathery flowers appear as dense yellow blooms.

Verticordia monadelpha is a popular variety for floral arrangements. It is commonly known as the woolly featherflower as the petals are fringed with long cilia. The flowers are 10 to 15mm wide with colours ranging from white to dark pink. The smooth, fleshy leaves are 1 to 3cm long. This species is tolerant to frost and needs a well-drained, acid loam and a sunny site. With the right watering conditions, it may even flower twice a year. It is not so easy to grow in the eastern states, especially in more humid areas. Iron deficiencies in the soil account for some plants and collar rot can affect others during cooler seasons.

The woolly featherflower is dense and rounded, producing masses of flowers. It is an excellent choice for rock gardens, tubs or patio gardens. Tip pruning while young and after flowering will help retain a compact shape to the bush.

Verticordia grandiflora also grows to around 60cm but is found on sandplains to the north of Perth in Western Australia. It has narrow light green leaves and yellow flowers that darken to orange as they age. It is a spring flowering plant suitable for cultivation in zones 8 to 10.

Verticordia plumosa is also known as the plumed featherflower. It is another commonly cultivated verticordia. It has dense terminal heads of plum-pink flowers and a sweet honey fragrance. It can be variable in form with grey-green leaves to 6mm long and grows to 90cm.

Most verticordias do not do well if summer rainfall is too high or too frequent. As already stated, they do better in their native Western Australia and tend to be shorter lived in the eastern states.