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Grow Guide: Syzygium luehmannii (riberry)

Syzygium luehmannii branches have a slight weeping habit, and the flowers and berries attract native birds to your garden.

Featured Image: Syzygium luehmannii / Photo by David Stang / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Syzygium luehmannii commonly known as riberry is a lovely native Lilly pilly with colourful foliage and bright pinkish-red fruit. It has a slender growth habit and is ideal for hedging as well as growing as a specimen tree.

The branches have a slight weeping habit, and the flowers and berries attract native birds to your garden. The berries are also edible.

Syzygium luehmannii 1 | Plant care

This plant can even be pruned into a topiary if you have the time and patience.

Syzygium luehmannii can reach a height of up to 15 metres and a spread of up to 8 metres. However, this growth can be controlled with regular pruning.

Here’s everything you need to know about growing Syzygium luehmannii in your garden.

Light requirements

This particular species can be grown in a sunny position. However, it also does well in a partly shaded spot in your garden.

This makes it extremely versatile for many gardeners around the country. 

Temperature and humidity

This Lilly pilly variety can be grown in most parts of the country except for really cold regions. It does best in sub-tropical, warm and cool temperate and Mediterranean climatic zones. 

The riberry can handle light frosts, more so once it’s become established. 

Syzygium luehmannii riberry 2 | Plant care
Syzygium luehmannii / Photo by David Stang / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Soil requirements

Like many Australian natives, Syzygium luehmannii can adapt to a range of different soils. It can even live quite happily in poor soils. 

But, to get your plant off to a really good start, consider improving the soil with some organic matter before planting. 

The soil should be relatively well-drained but this Lilly pilly can also handle moderately moist soils.

Water requirements

Once well established, the riberry is reasonably drought-tolerant. However, young plants will benefit from a regular watering schedule so that the roots can establish themselves well in the soil.

It’s also a good idea to mulch the soil around your plant in order to keep in the moisture.

mulch around base of tree | Plant care

Give your plant some supplementary watering in summer if you’re experiencing long periods of dry weather.

Fertiliser

To ensure good growth, feed your riberry with a premium native fertiliser in spring each year. 

Pruning

It’s necessary to prune Syzygium luehmannii regularly to promote nice dense growth. Tip pruning is particularly important for young plants to ensure bushy growth.

You can then prune your lilly pilly preferably three times a year in spring, summer and autumn to promote a nice shape.

This will also encourage lots of that lovely colourful new growth that makes this plant so appealing.

Problems, pests and diseases

This particular species of Lilly pilly is resistant to psyllid attack so that’s not something that you have to worry about.

The only pest that you might encounter on your riberry is scale. These sap-sucking insects will also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. 

When this ends up on the leaves, it can produce a sooty mould.

Sooty mould | Plant care

Although this is unattractive, it doesn’t harm the plant. However, the honeydew will also attract ants.

Sooty mould can easily be wiped off the leaves with a damp cloth. However, first, you have to treat the cause – the scale insects.

If the infestation isn’t too great, you can just wipe them off with a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. For greater infestations, you can spray with an organic oil-based spray such as eco oil or neem oil. White oil will also work.

Continue to monitor your plants and spray every couple of weeks until the insects are gone.

How to grow a Syzygium luehmannii hedge

As mentioned, this Lilly pilly makes an excellent screening hedge.

For a nice dense hedge, you want to space your plants around 1 metre apart. This should give you good coverage fairly quickly.

Enrich the soil before planting and place a decent layer of mulch around the base of the plants but keep this a little away from the trunks of the trees.

Once you’ve planted your lilly pilly hedge and while the plants are still young, it’s important to tip prune them on a regular basis to encourage that lovely dense growth.

When your hedge has filled out nicely, you can use hedge shears or trimmers to keep your plants well-shaped. The more you do this, the bushier your hedge will be.

Remember to feed your plants each year in spring. This will ensure lots of dense growth and an abundance of flowers and berries.

Syzygium luehmannii flower | Plant care
Syzygium luehmannii / Photo by Stephan Ridgway / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

How to propagate Syzygium luehmannii

This Lilly pilly is relatively easy to propagate from seed or cuttings. Plants grown from cuttings usually won’t grow as tall as those grown from seed. 

If you want to collect some seeds from an established plant, these can be sown into seedling trays or tubes filled with seed-raising mix. They should germinate within around three to four weeks.

Keep the soil moist but not wet until germination happens and then, continue to water the young seedlings, making sure that the soil can drain well.

Cuttings can be taken during the warmer months and will root fairly easily if given some extra humidity. You can use a purchased plant cloche for this or make your own by cutting the bottom off a soft drink bottle and placing this over the cuttings. 

For the best results, place your cuttings in a warm, bright spot but keep them out of direct sunlight.

Plants that are grown from cuttings are likely to start producing flowers and fruits in their second year of growth. 

FAQ

What is the growth rate of the Syzygium luehmannii?

Syzygium luehmannii has a fast growth rate. In fact, it can grow at a rate of around 30 to 40 cm every year. Keeping your plant well-pruned will encourage lots of new growth.

Can you eat Syzygium luehmannii berries?

Yes, the berries on this Lilly pilly species are edible. They can be eaten straight off the tree or can be made into jams and jellies. Another popular way to use these berries is to make them into a refreshing cordial.

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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