Geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) is a beautiful flowering Australian native shrub that brings colour to gardens from late winter to spring.

As the common name suggests, Geraldton wax comes from Western Australia. Its mainly pink or white flowers have small, stiff petals, which give them the description of ‘wax’ flowers.

The flowers ooze nectar and are highly attractive to bees and pollinating insects, particularly on a warm late winter or spring day. They also have a sweet, honey fragrance.

As well as the naturally occurring pink or white flowers, selection has produced plants with purple or even red flowers. There are also dwarf forms, which suit containers. The small, potted Geraldton wax plants are popular as decorator plants in parts of Asia including Japan.

The green leaves are narrow and almost needle like. The plants suit coastal conditions.


Growing tips

In their native home of Western Australia, Geraldton wax grows in well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil. Although they can tolerate a wide range of soils, good drainage is essential for a long-lived plant.

To keep plants looking good, apply a low-phosphorus native plant fertiliser in spring. Water plants well before spreading fertiliser.

After flowering, lightly prune away spent flowers. These can also be picked as a long-lasting and very pretty cut flower. An allover clip keeps plants compact and tidy. Avoid heavy pruning or cutting into old stems.

A strongly growing plant will have few problems however plants that are grown in too much shade may develop scale. These can be treated with spray oils or pruning off affected stems. To reduce pest problems reduce shade by pruning overhanging or nearby plants.

In wet or poorly drained soils, Geraldton wax can be short lived, may fail to grow well and can suffer from root rot disease. These problems are avoided by planting in the best conditions. To check soil drainage before planting, dig the planting hole, fill it with water and observe how long the water takes to drain from the hole. If it takes more than a few hours, select another spot or plant into a raised bed or container.


Garden companions

Geraldton wax plants grow to around 2 to 2.5 metres high and wide and combine well in garden beds with most other natives including shrubs such as grevilleas, correa and westringia, as well as colourful annuals such as paper daisies.

These plants also work well among early spring flowering exotic shrubs such as azaleas and spiraeas.