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Olearia, the chatham tree that fell in love with the sea

Scenery with a magnificant olearia tree

Basic Olearia facts

Botanical nameOlearia traversii
Common name – Olearia, Chatham tree daisy, Chatham Island Akeake
Family – Composaceae
Type – Shrub

Bearing – round
Height – 10 feet (3 meters)
Breadth – 5 to 6 feet (1.50 to 2 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, humus-rich

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering: July, August

Olearia traversii is a beautiful seaside shrub. Its compact bearing makes it ideal for a small garden. Its shiny green evergreen leaves, and its cute white summer flowers appearing in clusters will appeal to the eyes whenever you set foot outside to relax.

Planting olearia

As a general rule, favor planting in fall. The shrub will have more time to create a root system that can resist lower levels of water during the following summer.

Planting in spring is possible, but not as environmentally friendly. Indeed, you’ll have to water at regular intervals when it doesn’t rain. Last of all, to grow best, olearia needs to be planted in full sun.

In a shrub bed or hedge:

  • Dig a hole at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep.
  • Add in organic matter and mix it well with the soil. You can use any of the following: compost, soil mix, or ripe manure.
  • Settle the root ball of your Olearia traversii and backfill the hole with particular care: do not bury the root crown, that portion of a plant where roots and trunk connect.

If you aim to set up a hedge, you’ll have to follow a planting distance of 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters) between plants.

Potted Chatham tree daisy and container growing:

Growing in a pot still lets it grow dense and lushPlanting in containers or pots is nearly identical to when you’re planting in the ground. Simply make sure excess water correctly drains away.

For that, spread a drainage layer (gravel, clay balls, pozzolana…) at the bottom of the pot, before adding the dirt or soil mix.

Also remember to check exposure to wind, and make sure the shrub is stable.

Caring for and propagating Olearia

Proper care leads to healthy, green leavesOlearia traversii doesn’t require much care.

If you’ve planted it in the ground, you’ll simply have to check soil moisture during the first summer around.

For potted and container growing, adding a little bit of fertilizer in fall (phosphorus and potassium) and in spring (nitrogen) will be necessary. Water needs must be checked often, too.

If ever you desire to prune your shrub, do so after the blooming, sometime at the end of summer.

Flowers appear on an olearia bushRegarding Olearia propagation, it’s easiest to go for preparing cuttings at the end of summer.

Diseases and pests:

Olearia is resistant to diseases. However, when faced with parasites, scale insects may cause problems.

Landscaping and pairing

Landscaping effect with olearia and rocksOlearia is very flexible in how you can use it for landscaping: shrub bed, container or pot, standalone, together with others in a shrub bed or hedge. As you see, it can settle down almost anywhere! In the case you’d like to pair it with other shrubs in a shrub bed or hedge, options that match well with olearia include:

  • Sea orache: small gray-blue leaves, semi-evergreen. Resists limestone soil, well, as it does sandy soil and sea spray. Perfect for planting along the coast.
  • Eleagnus x ebbingei: evergreen, dark green leaves that are shiny on the topside and silvery underneath. Round and compact bearing. Ideal shrub for a hedge.
  • Strawberry tree: very original thanks to its fruits and ornamental bark. Evergreen leafage, white blooming that occurs simultaneously with fruit formation in fall and winter. Tolerates limestone soil, but needs full sun.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-SA 4.0: Tim Park
CC BY 4.0: John Steel
Public Domain: Peter de Lange
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