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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.


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.

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