Acmena smithii- Lilly pilly

Acmena smithii- Lilly pilly

Acmena Smithii- Common lilly pilly

Acmena smithii- Lilly pilly is small-medium evergreen tree. It has very dense foliage. In summer it produces masses of white fluffy flowers, these are followed by mauve berries which produce quite a show in their own right.

Lilly pilly has many uses. It can be grown as a specimen tree, used in topiary, container specimen or as a screen. Responds excellently to pruning. Can also be used in bush tucker gardens as the berries are edible.

Can handle a wide variety of soil types even including wet soils. Will however do best in a moist well drained soil. Its ok to grow in full sun or part shade. Is more resistant to psyllids than its other lilly pilly cousins. Will tolerate frost once established.

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Cultural notes

Botanical name: Acmena smithii

Common name: Lilly pilly

Family: Myrtaceae

Native to: Australia

Flowers: summer

Position: Full sun/Part shade

Height: 4-8m

Width: 2-3m

What is the best lilly pilly for hedging?

Acmena smithii has to be, not only one of the best lilly pilly hedges, but one of the best hedging plants there is for our climate.

Acmena's grow fairly fast, are compact and bushy, love a prune and have beautiful evergreen foliage. They will tolerate full sun and shaded areas. Unlike a pittosporum they can be allowed to get overgrown, once they are given a hard cutback they will re-shoot.

We find acmenas to be more resilient to pysillids and lilly pilly beetle (paropsides calypso).

Acmenas do well in a wide range of soils and are quite drought tolerant once established.

For a faster growing lilly pilly use a syzygium australe and for more frost resistance we like waterhousea floribunda.

When should you prune lilly pillies?

We like to prune our lilly pillies at the end of spring and the middle of autumn. You could prune at both times to maintain a really compact, dense hedge. The other benefit of two pruning times per year is much easier clean up!

Lilly pillies really respond well to pruning and are super tough. You could cut them down to ground level and they will re-shoot! If conducting a brutal cut-back avoid temperature extremes. For example don't cut them back if expecting a frost or during a heat wave.

Can lilly pillies be grown in large containers?

Absolutely! They make a great topiary or standard. Both of which can be created on an acmena in a pot or in the garden.

If keeping acmenas in a pot, be sure to add a slow release fertiliser from time to time and repot every couple of years.

How far apart should acmenas be planted to create a hedge?

We plant them about a metre apart. A 140mm pot size like we sell, planted 1 metre apart should reach a 1.8 metre hight in 3 years and be nice and dense.

To encourage quicker growth water throughout summer. Remember to water the roots not the foliage! Adding organic fertiliser such as dynamic lifter or blood and bone can also speed up growth.

If you're a forgetful gardener adding some drippers to a timer can be a game changer.

Pest and diseases.

As mentioned acmenas seem to be far more resilient to psyllids and lilly pilly beetle than syzygium. If they do become a problem mixing some eco-neem with eco-oil seems to work for some people.

For guaranteed success we use confidor -just please be careful and don't spray when the plant is flowering. For topiaries and standard lillly pillies the use of confidor tablets can be incredibly effective.

How do you propagate Acmena smiithii?

We propagate them using seed. The berries are generally ripe in early to mid winter. We simply sow the seeds in a seedling tray or styrofoam create. For specific named cultivars you'll need to use cuttings. Plug the cuttings into a mixture of perlite and peat moss.