THE GENUS ACACIA


This plant genus is probably the best known and many species are popular garden plants. Unfortunately, not all are appropriate because of the tendency to invade the nearby bush and become a weed in that environment. Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana) is an example.

Acacias can be found in a wide range of habitats and are an important plant in the garden because of contribution to the nitrogen content of the soil. This genus is grown for a wide range of purposes like erosion prevention and revegetation.

Features

Habit - Acacias vary in growth patterns from completely prostrate to tall trees. This species is hardy and many are fast growing but some are rather short lived. This should not prevent them from being used in a garden because they can protect slow growing plants until sufficient growth is obtained for survival. Acacias can be easily grown in containers.

Foliage - There are two leaf types - flattened leaf stalk (probably to reduce moisture evaporation) and feathery fern-like leaves. There are some plants with prickly foliage but these often provide a safe haven for birds and small mammals.

Flowers - Flowers occur in varying shades from white to yellow or orange. Some are selected for their spectacular spring flowering while others are chosen for their summer or winter flowers. The contrasting foliage can often enhance the beauty of flower heads. Many have a sweet scent.

Cultivation requirements

Good drainage - Most acacias will grow in any well-drained soil. If you are unable to build up a garden bed then application of a soil wetting agent or soil improver will assist in their health and happiness in your garden.

Sunny aspect - Acacias have a tolerance to full sun which makes them an attractive plant for an exposed site in your garden. They will adapt to other light conditions, are usually frost tolerant to some degree but those from a dry habitat do not tolerate high humidity.

Bush food - One relatively unknown feature of several Acacia species is the use of its seed as a food source. Whether ground or used whole, these seeds are used for flavouring breads, pasta and more. Some species even have flowers that enhance the taste of pancakes.

Watering, fertilising & pruning

As with most plants, acacias require watering when first planted, especially during the summer months. Once they become established, they demand little or no attention.

Acacias rarely require added fertilisers, if any at all. If you do fertilise, only use low phosphorus types noting that the slow release pellets are ideal.

Regular pruning of the flowering stems, immediately after flowering, will improve bloom production and prolong plant life.

Propagation

Most species are readily propagated by seed, which requires treatment prior to sowing, while cutting propagation may not give satisfactory results. There are many published books on this species and your local APS district group is bound to have at least one that members can borrow, as will your community library.

 

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