This plant has been on the scene for decades and remains a beautiful ornamental that deserves a spot in your garden.

Geraldton wax plant
We’ve all heard about this plant, from our moms and our grans who grew it – it’s been around forever but it is all the rage at the moment. Yes, it’s the Geraldton wax.

The beautiful flowers are full of fragrance – a sweet, honey scent – and they ooze nectar. It is this honey scent and the copious nectar that attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators to the plant (as well as humans!).

The plant grows into a round shape that can be pruned into a thick shrub. While we’re talking about pruning, remember that pruning of a Geraldton wax needs to be done after flowering or you will prune away all the beautiful buds. To restrict growth, prune away a third of the plant – never more than that.

The evergreen, multi-stemmed shrubs have thin woody stems that are covered with little bright or dark green, sometimes even lime-green, needle-like leaves that give off a pleasant lemony smell when crushed.

Geraldton wax plant
The shiny leaves contrast nicely in both colour and texture with the shiny berries, which aren’t actually berries at all – these are the beautiful buds ready to burst into bloom. Traditional varieties of the Geraldton wax only flower in winter and spring, but selective breeding has resulted in hybrids with an extended flowering season from late winter all the way into early summer.

What we love about these plants is their versatility. There are also some new cultivars that are frost hardy, right down to -2°C, while other hybrids have a more compact, dwarf growth habit that makes them perfect for containers or the smallest of gardens. Original varieties don’t cope with frost and they don’t like humidity either.

Geraldton wax plant
The Geraldton wax is originally from the open plains of Australia, which gives us a clue about the conditions that it favours. Because its native soil is poor and low in nutrients, feeding these plants with commercial fertilisers can actually harm them, so only use organic mulch around the roots and a light dressing of bonemeal in spring. It’s also no surprise that they need a sandy, very well-draining soil, either in the garden or in containers, so make sure to use a well-draining potting soil or compost in the planting process.

When potting a Geraldton wax, the soil mix is all important. In a bucket or trug, start with a premium potting soil like Garden Master Premium Potting Soil, which already contains perlite for improved drainage. Despite this, these soils are designed to retain moisture and need to be amended to drain better. You can add more perlite into your potting mix to achieve this, or you can simply add river sand. In terms of ratio, we recommend two parts potting soil to one part perlite.

Geraldton wax plant
As we’ve said, fertilising these plants can have an adverse effect on them, but a safe option is an organic product like Atlantic Fertiliser Bio Rock, which will aid with healthier, sustained growth. When the plant is in flower, you can also feed them monthly or every two weeks with a general liquid fertiliser at the recommended dosage.

As for the pot itself, it’s important that you don’t go too big. Stick to one size larger than the pot the plant came in and make sure it has a good drainage hole. If you use a pot that is too big, the soil will dry too slowly, making your plant susceptible to root rot.

When preparing the pot, remember to add stones or pieces of crock to the pot first, creating a layer that will stop the drainage hole from getting blocked and will keep the soil from washing away. Alternatively, a piece of shade cloth will also do the job.

Geraldton wax plant
Add some of your soil mix to the pot, to about a quarter of the way up. Pop the plant into the new pot and ensure it’s planted at the same depth as the original plant. Fill up around the plant with soil mix to just below the rim of the pot and firm it down with the back of your trowel. The final step is a mulch around the base of the plant – we never like to see bare naked soil! Good options here are wood chips, bark nuggets or composting leaves.

Whether in pots or the garden, Geraldton wax plants need full sun (remember, Australia!), but they do need shelter from wind. From spring to summer and autumn, give just enough water to keep the soil moist. In winter, water sparingly so that the soil dries out between waterings.

Geraldton wax plant
They can be susceptible to root rot fungus, which is why they can be difficult to grow in humid conditions. Scale is another pest that may occur and it can be treated with a ready-to-use Efekto Garden Gun, or insecticide granules around the base of the plant, or a drenching of Koinor. Repeat until the scale has disappeared.

Remember, everything you need to plant and take care of your Geraldton wax plant is available from Builders, either in-store or online at

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