A Guide to the Different Lilly Pilly Varieties in Australia

Lilly Pillys are popular Australian natives that grow in a variety of conditions and soil types. They’re commonly grown as hedges and make perfect screening plants.

There are around 60 different Lilly Pilly varieties that are native to Australia and Southeast Asia.

In addition, there are also quite a few different cultivars and hybrids that have become popular across the country.

It’s also worth noting that, somewhat confusingly, there are three genera of plants commonly called Lilly Pillies: Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea.

Here is a general guide to the most popular and commonly grown Lilly Pilly varieties in Australia.

Lilly Pilly Sublime (Acmena smithii cultivar)

If you have less than perfect conditions, ‘Sublime’ is one of the toughest Lilly Pilly varieties. This Acmena smithii cultivar can tolerate most soil types and will handle drought and cold really well. It will even grow happily in coastal areas.

Its maximum height is around 5 metres and it can spread to a width of around 3 metres.

‘Sublime’ has a lovely dense growth habit and is suitable for hedging or even topiary shaping. It will produce pretty white flowers in large numbers but does not often produce fruit.

Lilly Pilly Hinterland Gold (Syzygium cultivar)

This is a compact variety with lovely golden new growth. It only grows to a height of around 3 metres. The plant produces a mass of white flowers in spring and summer. 

These plants will need regular trimming to maintain their gorgeous ball-on-a-stick appearance.

Lilly Pilly Backyard Bliss (Syzygium paniculata cultivar)

This is a dense and fast-growing cultivar that is absolutely perfect for screening. It can grow to a height of around 6 metres but doesn’t mind heavy pruning to keep it at a more manageable height.

It features pretty red growth in the new leaves and is psyllid-resistant. Once well-established, this variety is relatively drought-hardy. This Lilly Pilly does not produce a lot of fruit.

Goodbye Neighbours Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii cultivar)

As you would imagine, this variety forms an excellent screening plant. It will grow to a height of 6 metres and a width of 2 metres. The new growth is a lovely bronze golden colour which adds to its appeal.

Being quite a hardy plant, Goodbye Neighbours Lilly Pilly is both drought and light frost tolerant. In addition, it can live quite happily in coastal areas. It’s also psyllid-resistant.

Lilly Pilly Resilience (Syzygium australe cultivar)

This variety is called Lilly Pilly ‘Resilience’ because of its resistance to psyllid attack. It grows to a height of around 3 metres and makes a great hedging or screening plant.

Lilly Pilly Winter Lights (Syzygium cultivar)

This is a dwarf variety that will maintain a bushy habit and only reaches a height of 3 metres and a width of around 1.5 metres.

It has lovely bronze and orange new growth and is ideal to use as a hedging or screening plant.

Standard Lilly Pilly (Syzygium australe)

Thanks to their dense growth habit, Lilly Pillies make excellent standards (a bare trunk with a rounded canopy). This is particularly applicable to the Syzygium australe variety.

It’s common to see Standard Lilly Pilly in formal, low-maintenance gardens as they look outstanding with their lovely new red growth. 

Lilly Pilly Straight and Narrow (Syzygium australe cultivar)

This variety is one of the best for hedging because it has a narrow, upright growth habit. It can reach a maximum height of around 8 metres but will only spread to a width of 1.5 metres.

Weeping Lilly Pilly (Waterhousia floribunda)

This very attractive variety has a graceful weeping habit and is most often grown as a hedge plant. However, it can also be grown as a very attractive specimen tree. When fully grown, it can reach a height of around 8 metres in a garden environment.

Being another very hardy species, the weeping Lilly Pilly will grow in most soil types and will even tolerate damp soils. It’s suitable for growing in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates.

The new growth appears in a flush of pink and rust before turning a dark green. The plant also produces lovely white flowers in summer.

Lilly Pilly Cascade (Syzygium luehmannii x Syzygium wilsonii hybrid)

This is a beautiful Lilly Pilly that has a soft, weeping habit. The new growth in summer is a soft pink colour while the summer flowers are also pink.

This variety would suit most gardens because it only grows to a maximum height of around 3 metres.

Lilly Pilly Firescreen (Acmena smithii cultivar)

This is a highly attractive variety thanks to its coppery-red new growth that blends beautifully with the dark green and glossy mature leaves. The plant also produces fuzzy white flowers and purple edible berries.

Although this variety is fast-growing, it will only reach a height of around 3 metres and a width of 1.2 metres. This makes it ideal as a screening or hedging plant.

Lilly Pilly Bush Christmas (Syzygium cultivar)

Although this variety can grow to a height of 1.5 metres, it can easily be trimmed into a 1 metre high hedge or border. The plant produces a flush of beautiful new orange-coloured growth in winter. 

This variety can also easily be grown in a pot and is ideal as a living Christmas tree. However, it should only be kept indoors for a short time.

Severe frost is likely to damage this variety, so give it some protection if you live in the southern or inland parts of the country.

Syzygium smithii

This is an original Lilly Pilly species and not a hybrid or cultivar. It was previously known as Acmena smithii but has been renamed as so often happens in the botanical world. You’ll find that many of the cultivars and hybrids will still use the original name as the origin.

Ultimately, this species can grow into a large tree with a height of 20 metres. However, when grown in gardens, it’s usually pruned to a more manageable height.

It produces gorgeous copper-coloured new growth that changes to dark green as it matures.

This species produces those lovely panicles of creamy-white flowers that are familiar to Lilly Pilly lovers. After flowering, the plant produces pink or purple berries that are edible.

Lilly Pilly Pinnacle (Syzygium australe cultivar)

This variety is ideal for hedging and screening because it has a narrow growth habit and fairly dense growth. It can grow to a height of around 10 metres but only grows to a maximum width of 1.5 metres.

When fully grown, its growth habit is very similar to that of a pencil pine.

Lilly Pilly Big Red (Syzygium australe cultivar)

This variety is also commonly referred to as scrub cherry thanks to its bright red foliage at the tips of the branches. This new growth is a striking colour and really stands out against the more mature dark green leaves. 

This popular variety is also fast-growing and quite dense. This makes it ideal for growing as a hedge or screening plant. In addition, it also makes quite an attractive topiary plant.

To add to its allure, the plant also produces fluffy white flowers and edible pink fruit.

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.


2 thoughts on “A Guide to the Different Lilly Pilly Varieties in Australia”

  1. I have what looks like a Lilly Pilly tree however it has hard whitish berries. Very hard . Do you know what type of Lilly pilly it is. It’s about 4 metres tall.

    • Hi Pam

      It is very difficult to identify a plant without looking at it. My suggestion is to take a photo of your plant and take this to your local garden centre or nursery for identification.


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