Dormant Grass Trees - What To Do!? An Example From My Own Garden.
I'm willing to bet that you can relate to this story...
Grant and Stephanie are wanting to transform their garden. You help them decide that grass trees are the perfect feature plants for their space. They've splurged a little, but when planting day arrives, they're over the moon with their choice - the grass trees look stunning.
Some months later, you get a phone call from Grant. He's concerned. One of the grass trees doesn't quite look right. The leaves aren't looking as full they once were. Stephanie thinks it's gone a bit "flat" on top. Some of the leaves have even discoloured a little yellow. They're worried it's dying.
What do you tell Grant and Stephanie? Is it sick? Is it dying? What's happening? How do you reassure them?
Two years ago I planted a cluster of grass trees in my own front garden. Four out of the six flowered a few months later. As an experiment, I cut a couple of the flowers off and I left a couple on to grow their full measure. Three of the four took a couple of months before they shot back with new growth.
But the fourth, well... check out this photo.
18 months after flowering.
My friends have been hassling me about this tree for a while. Telling me it's sick and dying. But I know it flowered. I know it's just dormant.
Flowering is quite a rigorous process for the old grass tree. It uses a lot of water and energy to produce that fantastic flower at quite a rate of knots. After flowering, it will often lay dormant for long periods of time. Of these three trees pictures, only the one on the right did not flower. The middle tree appears to be struggling.
New shoots begin to emerge once again.
Just the other day, I discovered these new shoots! In 6 months or so, these little green shoots (they look greener in real life) that I'm pointing at will be almost full length. I'll remove the older yellow leaves and you won't believe it's the same grass tree.
The solution? Patience, water, and more patience.
The first question to ask Grant and Stephanie is if their tree has flowered recently? If the answer is YES, you can reassure them that this is totally normal for the tree to go through a period of dormancy.
Grass trees are survivors. Shonky harvesters have given grass trees a bad reputation. But in reality, grass trees have an amazing ability to survive - and going dormant for long periods of time is one of those strategies that make grass tree stunningly unique.
Patience and consistent watering is the best way to nurture it through this dormancy period. Regular seasol won't hurt either. The tree is exhausted, depleted and stressed from flowering. Like an introvert after a week of visitors, it just needs some time out to recuperate. Be patient and soon it will be thriving again with new life.