Lagunaria patersonia, Hibiscus patersonia, Laguna squamea, Primrose Tree, Cow Itch Tree

Lagunaria patersonia, Hibiscus patersonia, Laguna squamea

Primrose Tree, Cow Itch Tree
Family: Malvaceae
Origin: Australia
Small tree 10-20 ftFull sunModerate waterPink flowersPlant attracts butterflies, hummingbirdsSeaside, salt tolerant plant

Primrose tree, Lagunaria patersonia, is a small evergreen tree of 10-20 feet that is native to Australia and is hardy in USDA Zones 9-11. A fast grower, this tree will do best in full sun and with moderate water. Its foliage is olive green, with entire oval leaves that can be up to 4 inches long with a grayish-tomentose underside. Its blooms are quite stunning, with profuse pale to almost purplish pink flowers that look like small hibiscuses, around 2 inches across, with five reflexed petals surrounding a central column of stamens. It also produces bright orange seeds that are encased in irritant bristles. These blooms will come in spring, attracting both butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

Primrose tree is fairly easy to care for once established, as it is drought tolerant and is even able to tolerate salt spray from the sea. In terms of soil, the tree needs good drainage and thrives in slightly acidic soil. It is also quite salt tolerant, making it an ideal selection for an oceanside planting or if your region has salty irrigation water.

This tree also makes a great choice in areas that experience cold weather. When planted in a container, provide a spot where the tree can be brought in during the winter and move outside in the spring. Make sure the pot is large enough for a few year's worth of growth, but also that it is kept on the light side. Feed the tree monthly except in winter, with a balanced fertilizer and make sure to water! If you're in a very cold region and unsure of how to care for this plant in a pot in winter, speak to your local garden or tree center for advice.

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