The Garden Dickson, botanicus perfectus

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Grass trees

Grass trees grow very slowly, approximately 1 cm per year.  A plant,
which is harvested from its natural habitat at a height of 2 metres, can
be anywhere between 100 to 200 years old, depending on prevailing conditions
and climate.  Grass trees form part of Australia’s hard-leaved,
fire adapted vegetation and occur mainly on soils which are very free draining,
and consequently low in nutrients.  They have a wide and relatively
shallow root system, about 600 mm deep and up to about a metre wide.  

Cultivation

Grass trees can be rejuvenated by fire, but this can only be done every
5 years as this process consumes the stored reserves of the plant.  After
burning a plant may take between 3 to 6 months to develop new foliage.  Grass
trees sometimes appear to flower after a fire but this is not always the
case.  Each species of grass tree will flower only at a particular
time of year, and only if they have sufficient stored reserves to do so. 
Grass trees also flower as a reaction to stress.

Pests & Diseases

Phytophthora cinnamoni – this is a fungal disease which causes root
rot.  Usually present in damp or poorly drained areas.  Grass
trees are quite susceptible to this problem.
Scale on foliage – treat with pest oil or white oil when conditions
are cool.

Ann Costelloe