New Zealand Christmas Tree, Pohutukawa
|Blooming shrubs, trees, and woody vines for mild frost-free climates, they do especially well along the coast. Red, pink, white, or yellow bottlebrush-like flowers appear when plants are still young. Vines scramble over trellises, walls and tree stumps. Tree species make lovely specimens, good hedges, and screens. In cooler zones, plants in tubs can spend summers outdoors, winters in a greenhouse or conservatory. Travelers to Hawaii cannot miss the rich red pompons of Ohi'a Lehua (Metrosideros collina polymorpha), often used in authentic leis. The most common native tree, it survives as a dwarf mere inches high in Kauai's cool, rain-drenched Alakai Swamp, reaches shrub size on lava flows, and towers to 100 feet on forested slopes. They like full sun and moderate humidity. Plant in well-drained but moisture-retentive soil enriched with leaf mold. Most handle some lime. Water plentifully in the growing season, keeping constantly moist but not soggy. In a greenhouse, provide fresh air and protect from intense sun. Feed well-established container plants diluted liquid fertilizer, spring to fall. All need a winter minimum of 40º to 45º F. Prune to shape and thin just after flowering. Sow seed in spring, root semi-ripe cuttings, or layer.
This tough evergreen revels in damp, salty coastal conditions -- its Maori name, Pohutukawa, means 'drenched with spray'. Big clusters of scarlet bottlebrush flowers bloom in summer through Christmas in New Zealand. Usually forms a large, multi-trunked shrub, but can be trained as a single-trunked tree. Aurea variety blooms in yellow.
Attributes - Metrosideros excelsa
Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
Bloom Season: Late Spring through Mid Summer
Flower Color: Red
Height: 10 ft. to 15 ft.
Width: 15 ft.
Sunlight: Full Sun
Climate: Zones 9, 10
Notes: Thrives in Dry Climates. Container Plants, Drought Tolerant, Low Maintenance, Showy Flowers.