Corymbia ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum)

The Red Flowering Gum is an Australian native plant that grows to be about 10 metres tall and features unique brightly coloured flowers.

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The Red Flowering Gum is a beautiful Australian native plant, with a lifespan of more than 70 years.

It’s a perennial tree with the scientific names Corymbia ficifolia and Eucalyptus ficifolia, and it belongs to the Myrtaceae family.

Appearance

The Red Flowering Gum is an Australian native plant that grows to be about 10 metres tall, though it can vary in height from 2 to 15 metres. Its width ranges from 2 to 5 meters.

The flowers can be a range of colours including red, pink, orange, white and even two-toned.

The bright flower clusters are in an umbel-like shape which makes them easy to identify. They produce nectar that attracts birds and insects.

The evergreen leaves are green and lanceolate in shape (shaped like a lance head), while the trunk is covered in a rough bark.

The Red Flowering Gum flowers during summer (December or January up to May).

Location & growing conditions

This eucalypt can be grown in a range of temperate climates but its natural growth is restricted to the southwestern part of Australia.

It tends to thrive in sandy soils with good drainage and needs full sun to light shade conditions.

This plant can tolerate light frost but may suffer damage with heavy frosts. It does not require much water during dry periods because it is drought resistant.

RELATED: Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea)

Corymbia ficifolia in your garden

Red Flowering Gum can be planted in early spring after the frost has passed. Plant young trees in a well-draining location, keeping the root ball intact.

It is a fast-growing but non-invasive plant, and its bright flowers attract nectar-loving organisms like bees, butterflies, and birds.

It’s often used as a feature plant for its flowers or as a street tree.

Like most natives, this tree does not need supplementary watering or fertiliser; rainfall is usually enough to keep it healthy.

If you do want to feed it, fertilise in spring with native fertiliser (phosphorus should be 3% or less).

After flowering, you can prune it by removing up to 1/3 of the leaves and branches. This will keep your tree healthy while allowing you to tidy up some of the more scraggly branches.

Pests & diseases

Corymbia ficifolia is susceptible to pests like psyllids, aphids, mealybugs, scales, mites, caterpillars and borers.

Marri canker is a fungal disease that attacks the stems and eventually kills the tree.

Corymbia ficifolia propagation

Corymbia ficifolia can be propagated using seeds for pure Corymbia ficifolia but cuttings are recommended for other varieties.

Why grow native Australian plants?

If you want to add a touch of Australia to your backyard, growing native plants is the perfect solution.

Native plants are easier to grow and maintain than exotic species, and they provide food and shelter for local wildlife while helping 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 better suited to the local climate and soil than exotic varieties, so they require less watering and fertiliser.

Native plants are less fussy about conditions, too, so you don’t need to spend hours giving them extra attention every 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 and beautiful. They come in a range of colours, shapes, and sizes.

Some 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.

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.

Require less water and are drought tolerant

Native plants are well-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.

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.