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Ozothamnus - Growing Guide

Growing Ozothamnus

Ozothamnus are valued herbaceous or smallish evergreen shrubs which originate from Tasmania, New Zealand and SE Australia. They are closely related to Cassinia and Helichrysum and have a very similar use in our gardens as these sun loving plants, which grow in rocky places and on heathland from the coastal regions to mountainous areas, are ideal plants for hot dry coastal gardens, rockeries (for smaller growing species) and hot shrub borders (for larger ones). The name Ozothamnus is often confused with Helichrysum and plants may be found in nurseries bearing either name.

O. ledifolius, the Kerosene bush, is a small globular, dense growing aromatic shrub growing to about 3ft in height. It has yellowish green shoots with oblong-linear dark green leaves up to ½in long. The leaves have a yellowish indumentum on their undersides and small white flower heads in dense corymbs. The plant produces a sticky aromatic secretion which makes the plant highly flammable in the wild.

O. rosmarinifolius grows rather larger and can achieve a height of up to 10ft eventually although 6ft would be more normal. It is not as hardy as O. ledifolius. It can however easily survive a normal UK winter. It has rosemary-like dark green leaves which are woolly underneath. The flower heads are scented and white in dense terminal corymbs 1½in across in May or June.

O. rosmarinifolius ‘Silver Jubilee’ has silvery grey foliage and is a popular plant in the nursery.

O. hookeri is an upright or spreading small shrub whose shoots are densely covered in white wool. The leaves are tiny, sticky and aromatic. The small white flower heads appear in June or July.

Ozothamnus need full sun and will grow well in containers with good drainage. The same applies to the soils which they favour. Seed can be sown in containers as soon as they are ripe but semi-ripe new growth cuttings taken in midsummer are easily rooted and produce a much quicker result.  

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