This genus of plants has about thirty species of evergreen trees and shrubs, originating in Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. They have an upright, broad, very dense and branched crown; the leaves are oval, dark green, covered with a thick, whitish-grey down. From April to the end of summer, terminal inflorescences are present, made up of bright red, pink, orange or yellow flowers, with a very particular feathery appearance; the flower buds are covered by a light whitish down.
In nature these plants can reach majestic dimensions, close to the 15-20 metres, cultivated in our gardens, they maintain a more modest dimension, 1,5-2 metres, developing quite slowly.
I metrosideros are plants which, in nature, can reach remarkable heights, but which, when cultivated, do not exceed the 2 metres, thus being able to be placed in pot.
The best exposure for these shrubs is in a sunny place, or in the middle of the shade ensuring them at least a few hours of sunshine.
These plants don’t like intense cold, even if some species can bear temperatures a few degrees below zero, it is best to plant in a place sheltered from the cold, for example near a wall of the house; in areas where the winters are very cold, the plant should be covered with tnt, or, if grown in a pot, in a cold greenhouse.
- Very particular and exotic shrub, the metrosideros comes from Australia and New Zealand, where there are several dozen species, in Italy is cultivated in particular Metrosideros excels.
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These plants are quite resistant, but from March to October it is necessary to water regularly, letting the soil dry between one watering and the other, to avoid the formation of stagnations of water that could compromise their health; the metrosideros can withstand short periods of drought, but prefer a slightly moist soil, so it is good to remember to provide water even in the cold months, at least once a month, waiting for sunny days.
At the beginning of spring, provide the plant with slow release granular fertiliser for flowering plants, and carry out a second fertilisation in autumn.
The metrosideros prefer loose and well drained soils, quite rich of organic matter and possibly with a slightly acidic reaction; the potted plants are to be repotted every 2-3 years in order to allow a correct development of the rooting apparatus. The ideal mixture for the soil in which to plant these plants is composed by peat, mould, pumice and organic substance.
These plants can be multiplied through seeds or by cutting. At the end of the summer, the flowers give way to woody capsules, which contain a lot of small seeds, which are sown immediately in the warm seedbed, or in spring; usually the germination takes place in very low percentages, and the seed plants develop very slowly. Usually, we prefer to propagate these plants by cutting, in late spring, or in January-February, in a temperate greenhouse.
Metrosideros: Pests and diseases
The plants are quite resistant but it is good to be careful of aphids and mites that can affect the leaves and buds. For this reason it may be advisable to intervene with preventive treatments at the end of the winter, or when you notice signs of their presence, but always before the plants have bloomed.