Banksia integrifolia (Coast Banksia)

Banksia integrifolia is part of the Proteaceae family, which includes proteas, waratahs, and banksias.

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Featured Image: Ixitixel I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

Banksia integrifolia, commonly known as Coast Banksia, is a perennial tree that can live for more than 100 years.

It grows in sandy soils along the coast of Australia and New Zealand.

Banksia integrifolia is part of the Proteaceae family, which includes proteas, waratahs, and banksias.

It is a member of the genus Banksia, which contains more than 150 species of shrubs and trees native to Australia.

Appearance

Banksia integrifolia (Coast Banksia) I PDH I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

The Coast Banksia is a tree that can grow up to 25 meters tall with a diameter of 1 to 6 meters.

It produces bright lemon yellow flowers that have almost a hundred tubular petals. These flowers appear in autumn, winter and spring.

The leaves are 4 to 20 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. They are dark green on top with silvery undersides.

The leaves are leathery to the touch and have a narrow obovate shape but are twisted in form.

Location & growing conditions

This plant thrives in warm and cool temperate climates. It does well in a Mediterranean climate, which is a temperate climate sub-type.

Banksia integrifolia grows in Victoria, Queensland, and NSW. This native plant likes sandy soils and is usually found in coastal areas but can also grow in more mountainous regions.

It can also thrive in other soil types like sandy loam, clay loam, and even in poor and saline soils.

It needs well-draining soil and will benefit from sloped terrain. The pH of the soil should be acid to neutral.

Coast Banksia can tolerate light but not heavy frost and has good drought tolerance. It grows best in full sun to partial shade.

This plant is not threatened with extinction at this time.

Coast Banksia in your garden

Suellen Harris I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 2.5

This fast-growing native is great for a low-maintenance native garden.

You can plant Coast Banksia seedlings during late spring or early summer. Plant them in a sunny spot with well-draining soil.

They’re great as border plants, especially in beach areas, but they can also be used as feature trees.

This tree attracts pollinators like birds, butterflies, bees and other insects; it also attracts seed-eating birds and mammals.

It’s, therefore, an excellent option for attracting wildlife to your garden.

Care

Banksia integrifolia is a straightforward plant to care for, but it does require some maintenance.

Like most natives, it should be watered minimally and will do well with rainfall alone.

Banksia integrifolia also has little need for fertiliser. It is also very sensitive to high levels of phosphorous. So, if you do feed it, it’s important to use a fertiliser that doesn’t contain much phosphorous.

Prune periodically to prevent the plant from getting leggy and to retain a more bushy appearance.

RELATED: Corymbia ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum)

Pests & diseases

Auckland Museum I Wikimedia I CC BY 4.0

Banksias are not susceptible to many pests or diseases.

Caterpillars do attack banksias but they can generally be ignored.

However, one thing that does cause problems with banksias is the Phytophthora cinnamomi or dieback disease.

This disease is a soil-borne pathogen and is a major threat to native Australian vegetation.

Dieback disease can be treated with a chemical called phosphite, although banksias will generally die very quickly once infected.

Banksia integrifolia Propagation

According to the Australian National Herbarium, it is easy to propagate Banksias from seed.

They say “a common way to release seed is to place the ‘cone’ in an oven at 120°­140° C for about an hour. The follicles then open and the seeds can be removed with tweezers. Two black winged seeds are usually found in each follicle, together with a structure called a separator.”

These seeds “should be sown in a very freely draining seed-raising mix which should not be allowed to dry out.”

Why grow native Australian plants?

Growing native plants is the perfect way to add a touch of Australia to your backyard.

Native plants are easier to grow and maintain than exotic species, plus they provide food and shelter for local wildlife and help support our environment.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get started with natives, here are some reasons why growing native plants can be beneficial:

Low maintenance and easy to grow

Native plants are naturally suited to the local climate and soil, meaning they require less watering and fertiliser.

They’re also generally less fussy about conditions, so you don’t need to spend hours giving them extra TLC each weekend.

Native plants are often more resistant to pests and diseases than exotic varieties, which means you’re less likely to spend time and money dealing with these types of problems.

Beautiful bright flowers

Australia’s native flowers are unique, beautiful, and come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

From big, bold flowers with striking colour combinations to tiny delicate blooms, native plants are really special.

They can be fragrant too. Some species have an intoxicating scent that attracts birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects.

The Hymenosporum flavum (native frangipani), for example, has highly fragrant flowers that attract local wildlife to its nectar.

RELATED: Hardenbergia violacea, Native Lilac

Provide habitat and food for local wildlife

Native plants provide food, shelter and nesting areas for a huge range of local wildlife.

They provide a home for native birds, with their fruits and seeds being an important source of food.

For example, the seeds on a banksia will attract seed-eating birds like the cockatoo, while the nectar will attract birds like the honeyeater or wattle bird.

Chrysocephalum apiculatum will attract native bees that will pollinate the flowers.

Require less water and are drought tolerant

Native plants are well suited to their local environment. They’re typically adapted to the climate, soil, and other conditions of a particular region.

Because they’re so well-adapted to their surroundings, they usually require little or no additional water or fertiliser.

In Australia, this means our native plants are more likely than non-natives to survive in dry climates and hot temperatures.

They are therefore also more resistant to challenging conditions like drought than most non-native plant species.

Sustainable and support a healthy environment

If you want to grow a sustainable garden that preserves natural biodiversity, native plants are the best option.

Unlike exotic species, native plants require very little in the way of fertilisers and pesticides. When added to our lawn or garden, these chemicals run into our waterways and can cause imbalances in the soil.

If you want to minimise the amount of chemicals you spray on your garden, natives are the way to go.

Versatile and useful

Not only will they grow in areas where others won’t, but native plants are also great for a variety of different uses in the garden.

A wide range of uses means natives will work in any garden environment: whether as a feature plant or an underplanting for larger trees or shrubs, or as groundcover to prevent erosion on slopes.

They can also be used for privacy screens, windbreaks, or shade.

Cheaper to buy than exotic varieties

Australian natives are generally cheaper than exotic varieties. This can be attributed to the fact that they are easier to grow in our local climate.

Native plants are also cheaper to look after, as they have a higher resistance to local pests, diseases, and environmental conditions.

References

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY, and is always up for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking delicious meals from fresh produce picked from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.