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Backhousia citriodora, Lemon-scented myrtle

This is a plant that should be growing in every one’s garden!

Backhousia citriodora belongs to the Myrtaceae family and is endemic to central and southern Queensland (Mackay to Brisbane).

I have been growing this plant for about ten years, in my garden in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh. This plant will grow to eight to ten metres high in it natural environment and less the further south from Brisbane you are growing it. Backhousia citriodora apparently will grow as far south as Melbourne, if in a sheltered spot -- a very adaptable plant.

My plant is about four metres high and two metres wide and produces masses of white fluffy flowers, about one centimetre in diameter, near the end of the branchlets, in November to December.  This plant is popular in cultivation for its bushy habitat, branches to ground level and strongly lemon scented leaves (that can be used in cooking).     

My plant is mulched and is growing in a thin layer of topsoil over a clay sub soil. I have found it responds to well to native plant fertiliser during spring and in dry periods some additional watering. If pruning is required the ideal time is after flowering.

The easiest way to obtain new plants is to raise them from seed -- pick the fruit when it is mature in March to May, sprinkle the seeds with some propagating mix and keep moist in a dappled light position. Cuttings are slow to strike, hence the use of seeds for a faster way to obtain plants.

Backhousia citriodora makes a very attractive specimen or screen plant for your garden and will tolerate considerable sun as well as a variety of soils including poor clays.  Well worth growing.

Its common name refers to its highly scented leaves.  

Jeff Howes  

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