How to Grow a Weeping Lilly Pilly (Waterhousea Floribunda)

The weeping lilly pilly is an attractive rainforest tree that is suitable for growing in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates. It can grow to a height of 30 metres in its native habitat but not nearly as tall in garden environments.

Featured Image: Waterhousea floribunda / Photo by John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 4.0

This tree has attractive wavy-edged green leaves and a slightly weeping habit. It produces lovely creamy white flowers and pale pink fruit in summer.

As long as you don’t experience heavy frosts in your area, you can grow a weeping lilly pilly either as a standalone specimen or plant a few of them as a very attractive hedge.

Choosing a location and preparing the soil

The weeping lilly pilly prefers a sunny spot in your garden but can handle a little light afternoon shade. When choosing a location, remember that this is a fairly tall-growing tree and can also spread to at least 5 metres. Therefore, you want to ensure that you give it plenty of room to grow.

The soil should be fairly well-drained and contain a good amount of organic matter. Remember that these trees grow naturally in rainforests so it’s important to mimic that type of soil. 

To prepare your soil, just dig in some compost or other organic matter such as leaf litter. This will also improve drainage and give your tree plenty of nutrients to get started.

How to plant a Weeping Lilly Pilly

As with most other trees and shrubs, you want to dig a large hole to accommodate the rootball of the plant. It should be twice as wide and as deep as the tree’s rootball.

hole for tree | Plant care

Take the tree out of its pot and gently tease out the roots a little. Place it into the hole and backfill it with soil. Create a moat around the perimeter of the rootball and fill this with water.

This allows the water to seep into the soil and help it effectively settle around the roots.

Place a layer of mulch around the base of the tree but keep it a little distance from the trunk.

How to care for a Weeping Lilly Pilly

Because weeping lilly pillies are rainforest plants, they do like to be kept watered. This is especially the case when the plant is young. It should take around 12 weeks for your tree to become fully established in its new home. 

Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousea Floribunda 2 | Plant care
Waterhousea floribunda / Photo by John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Once fully established, the weeping lilly pilly is moderately drought-tolerant but the soil shouldn’t be left dry for long periods. Therefore, it’s a good idea to give your tree a good soaking at least once a week during summer.

You should also feed your weeping lilly pilly in spring with a slow-release fertiliser that is designed for native plants. This will ensure lots of luscious new growth and an abundance of flowers and berries.

It’s also a good idea to replenish the mulch at least once a year to help retain the moisture in the soil a little better.

You can prune your weeping lilly pilly in early spring to ensure a dense growth habit. When you do this, you’ll find that the tree will produce an abundance of flowers and fruit in summer.

What does a full-grown Weeping Lilly Pilly look like?

A fully-grown weeping lilly pilly can reach a height of 30 metres but it usually doesn’t get this tall in a garden setting. It has lovely long and wavy-edged green leaves with a pretty weeping habit and a grey trunk.

Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousea Floribunda 3 | Plant care
Waterhousea floribunda / Photo by John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The new foliage that appears in spring is pinkish-red in colour. This changes to bright green as the new growth matures. This is one of the reasons that you want to prune your weeping lilly pilly in early spring so it produces lots of this lovely colourful new growth.

In summer, the tree produces beautiful long racemes of puffy creamy white flowers. Once these are finished, the tree will display lovely pinkish-red fruit. These fruits are edible, much like those of other lilly pillies. 

How to grow a Weeping Lilly Pilly hedge

The weeping lilly pilly lends itself beautifully as a good screening hedge. It can be clipped regularly to an average height of around 5 metres. 

Space your plants around 50 cm apart for a nice dense hedge. Tip prune the trees regularly while young to ensure a nice shape and dense growth.

Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousea Floribunda 1 | Plant care
Waterhousea floribunda / Photo by Tatiana Gerus / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

There’s no need to wait for your plants to grow to the height you want before you start pruning. In fact, this should be avoided.

Regular pruning is necessary to keep your hedge manageable as these trees are very fast-growing. Make sure you prune your lilly pillies both on the top and around the sides on a regular basis from when the plants are young. This will ensure bushy growth.

Weeping Lilly Pilly problems

This low-maintenance Australian native rarely suffers from any problems except for the psyllid insects. These are sap-suckers and will cause a pimpling effect on the leaves.

If your tree is only suffering a mild attack of these, you don’t have to worry about controlling them because they won’t harm the overall health of the tree.

However, for more severe infestations, you can spray the entire tree with an oil-based insecticide such as white oil or neem oil.

Something else to look out for is myrtle rust. This causes purple spots on the leaves and is a fungal disease.

myrtle rust | Plant care
Myrtle rust / Photo by Scot Nelson / Flickr / CC0 1.0

You need to catch and treat this disease early in order to save your tree. Use a fungicide to spray the tree with as soon as you notice the problem.

You can also cut out the diseased foliage in order to prevent the spread of the disease. In very severe cases, the entire tree will have to be removed and disposed of.


How tall do Waterhousea floribunda grow?

Waterhousea floribunda will grow to a height of 30 metres in its native habitat. However, it would rarely get this tall in a garden environment and you can easily trim it to a height of around 5 to 8 metres.

What is the growth rate of a Weeping Lilly Pilly?

The weeping lilly pilly is a fast-growing rainforest tree. It can grow up to 2 metres in a single year.

Are Weeping Lilly Pilly roots invasive?

Weeping lilly pilly roots are considered non-invasive. This makes them ideal for planting near paving or driveways or even as street trees.

Can you grow Weeping Lilly Pilly in pots?

It is possible to grow a weeping lilly pilly in a pot but you have to ensure proper maintenance. The pot should be quite large and needs to be watered on a very regular basis. You also need to trim the tree regularly to manage the top growth so it doesn’t get too heavy and topple over.

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 “How to Grow a Weeping Lilly Pilly (<em>Waterhousea Floribunda</em>)”

  1. When pruning a Waterhousea, do I need to ensure there is a strong lead branch or should I keep the density of branches? I’ll be planting 4 in a row. Not sure yet if I’ll aim for a hedge or solo trees. Thanks

    • Hi Sally

      If you want to grow solo trees, you would generally keep a strong leader but if you want to hedge your waterhouseas, you can trim all over to improve the density of the growth.


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