Waratahs flower over a six-week period over spring in the Sydney region but they will flower later in cooler areas.
The size and shape of the blooms can vary considerably as can the range of naturally occurring colours, although the majority are red and pink. A commercially available white variety, known as 'Wirrimbirra White', is not a true white but a creamy yellow or greenish colour. The main pollinators of waratahs are birds, which are attracted by the copious amounts of nectar and bright colours.
As the bird seeks out the nectar, which is deep inside the waratah flower, its head becomes dusted with pollen from the upper part of the flower. It takes that pollen from one waratah plant to another and cross-pollinates another plant mixing genes which ensures genetic diversity from one generation to the next.
Waratahs make stunning cut flowers and by doing so you are naturaly pruning them which will give you heaps of flowers the following year. They can last two to three weeks in a vase if you keep the water fresh. Cut 20-30cm below the flowers and strip off the bottom leaves so they don't rot in the water to prep them for the vase.
For dried arrangements, flowers can be hung upside down in a dark place with some air circulation. This will help to retain more colour and prevent the growth of mould.
The blooms of the Gippsland Waratah are less compact than the New South Wales Waratah and their flowers open from the centre outwards.