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Grow Guide: Hakea Laurina (Pincushion Hakea)

The pincushion hakea is a delightful Australian native plant that can be grown as a shrub or a small tree. It has pretty pin cushion flowers that are red with creamy coloured ‘hairs’ that look like spikes.

Pincushion Hakea / Photo by Jean and Fred / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This hakea is a low-maintenance plant that requires very little care once it’s fully established in your garden.

In my current garden, I’m privileged to have an established hakea growing near one of my side fences and this is frequented by black cockatoos who love feasting on the seeds.

Hakea laurina varieties

Hakea laurina tree | Plant care
Hakea laurina / Photo by Daderot / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

Unfortunately, hakeas have not been widely hybridised so there are not many cultivars that are easily available. Many commercial growers only tend to produce plants of the original species.

However, after some searching, I have been able to find a small number of different cultivars that have been bred over the years.

Hakea laurina ‘Weeping Wonder’

This variety has the same blue-green leaves and striking red and creamy-white pincushion flowers as the original species. It can grow to a height and width of around 6 metres but can be pruned to retain a more compact shape.

This variety is ideal for screening, can tolerate coastal conditions, and is loved by nectar-feeding birds.

UWA Centenary Hakea

If you live in WA, you might be familiar with the weeping Hakea laurina that was discovered by horticulturalist George Lullfitz. Mr. Lullfitz discovered this plant as a single specimen in 2008 near Margaret River.

It appeared to be a natural variation of the Hakea laurina species and had a weeping habit. Mr. Lullfitz took some cuttings from the single specimen and started to propagate the plant. 

Due to its unusual and attractive growth habit, the plant was named the UWA Centenary Hakea to celebrate the 100th year of the University of Western Australia.

Hakea laurina ‘Mini Pini’

This cultivar is a dwarf version of the pincushion hakea. It only grows to a height of around 0.8 metres. This makes it ideal for growing in a pot or as a feature plant in a front garden. The pincushion flowers are pink with white ‘hairs’.

Choosing a location and preparing the soil

Hakea laurina will grow happily in full sun but can also handle a partly shady spot. You’ll find that your plant will produce the most flowers and have a nice rounded shape when it’s allowed to grow in full sun.

Hakea laurina flower | Plant care
Hakea laurina / Photo by JarrahTree / Wikimedia / CC BY 2.5 AU

Similarly, this hakea is not too fussed about the type of soil it will grow in as long as the soil is free-draining. In their natural habitat, pincushion hakeas generally grow in sandplains so sandy loam is ideal for optimum growth. 

How to plant a Hakea laurina

Like most trees and shrubs, you want to dig a planting hole that is as deep as the plant’s rootball and around twice as wide. The extra width of the hole will break up the soil and allow the roots plenty of room to spread.

hole for tree | Plant care

This is especially important for hakeas because they generally have a shallow root system.

There’s no need to add any fertiliser to the planting hole because hakeas are sensitive to phosphorus and don’t need regular fertilising. Their roots have adapted to get all the nutrients that the plants need from the soil.

Once you’ve taken your plant out of the pot and placed it in the hole, backfill it with soil and firm down around the plant stem. Create a shallow moat around the plant and fill this with water.

Like all native plants in your garden, you want to apply a layer of mulch around the base of your hakea after you’ve planted it.

How to care for a Hakea laurina

Once it’s happily growing, your Hakea laurina will require little care or maintenance. The plant is drought-tolerant and shouldn’t need supplementary watering unless the weather is particularly dry. Of course, you will want to water young plants sparingly while they’re still establishing themselves. 

Hakea laurina | Plant care
Hakea laurina / Photo by JJ Harrison / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

There’s also no need to fertilise your hakea but if you do want to give it a boost, make sure that you only use a fertiliser that is very low in phosphorus.

The only thing you want to do is tip prune your hakea to maintain a nice compact growth. New growth should be cut back around 10 to 20 cm from the tip to a leaf node. This is particularly useful after flowering.

In general, you should only prune the new green growth and not cut into any thick woody branches as these are unlikely to produce new growth.

Hakea laurina problems, pests, and diseases

The pincushion hakea is the ideal plant for time-poor gardeners because it does not suffer from any pests and diseases. Only rarely will a hakea succumb to root rot but that will only happen if the soil is not free-draining.

Can you use Hakea laurina for a hedge?

Hakea laurina makes a striking informal hedge that is ideal for screening.

However, be aware that these plants have a fairly shallow root system so they’re not ideal for windbreaks unless you stake the plants well while they’re young.

What is the difference between Grevillea and Hakea?

grevillea 1 | Plant care
Grevillea

Grevilleas and hakeas are two different genera of plants. One of the primary differences is that hakeas have thick woody seed pods that will remain on the plant and require a certain degree of heat to encourage them to open and release their seeds.

On the other hand, grevilleas have thin, leathery seed pods that will open freely and drop off the shrub once the seeds have been dispersed.

‌FAQ

How tall does Pincushion Hakea grow?

Pincushion Hakea can grow as tall as 6 metres.

Are Pincushion Hakeas fast growing?

Yes, Pincushion Hakeas are considered to be extremely fast-growing trees.

Are Hakea roots invasive?

Hakeas only have a shallow root system and these are not considered invasive.

Can Hakea grow in shade?

Hakeas will grow in shade but they’ll produce fewer flowers and have a much more slender growth habit.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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