General Plating and Care
Flannel flowers (Actinotus heliianthi) are shallow rooted plants that require good drainage. They have relatively brittle stems and require protection from strong winds to avoid breakage.
They are gross feeders and have relatively high fertiliser requirements to help maintain vigour. The plants also respond well to tip pruning after the flowering period.
Older leaves on lower areas of the stems will naturally yellow, then die off while they stay attached to the plant. They can be removed for aesthetic reasons during the cooler months of the year.
Flannel flowers can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Once established, they can also tolerate a light frost.
For best results when growing Flannel flowers we suggest a pre-prepared, well-drained site of moderately acidic soil (pH between 5.5 and 6.5). This can be achieved by creating a raised garden bed filled with low phosphorus organic compost or planting mix. The addition of crushed sandstone and a native fertiliser is desirable.
Some Actinotus helianthus varieties, like 'Starbright', make great potted plants and you will get the most out of them by using any premium-grade potting mix suitable for natives.
All species of Actinotus are particularly sensitive to root disturbance, and this should be avoided in the transplanting process.
When planting, we suggest a spacing of between 50 to 100 centimetres.
If watering is required, avoid wetting the foliage to minimise damage to the stems and avoid the possible introduction of fungal problems.
While Flannel flowers can withstand long periods of dry, warm weather a tell-tale sign of water stress is the leaves closing or clasping the stem prior to wilting.
Surprisingly, Flannel flowers respond well to regular applications of fertiliser.
For best results, we suggest an application of a low phosphorus controlled-release fertiliser with micronutrients during planting.
Supplemental applications of a complete liquid fertiliser at monthly intervals during the growing season will assist with plant health and vigour.
While mulching is not essential for good growth in Flannel flowers, it can be applied without causing harm.
We suggest an organic mulch to a depth of 75mm. This will assist with moisture retention and temperature control in the root zone. When mulching, avoid contact with the stems to minimise possible fungal problems.
Light pruning is recommended after flowering. This creates a bushier plant with increased flowering sites for the following season.
Take care when pruning so as not cut into the 'woody' stems as these do not reshoot. This can be followed by tip pruning in late summer, if necessary.
Pests and Diseases
Avoid planting out root-bound plants and minimise root disturbance. Plants in well-structured soils that can develop good root systems are less susceptible to Fusarium.
Flannel flowers are quite susceptible to Botryis fungus during moist weather. They should be monitored and treated with a fungicide if required.
Fungal problems can be minimised by avoiding foliage wetting during irrigation and by periodically removing dead leaves from lower areas of the stems to improve air circulation.