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How to Care for an Olearia Plant

Lovely budding flowers of the olearia shrub growing in a garden

Genus Olearia

I dare you to find a single person who doesn’t feel a little bit happy when they see a daisy. Daisies are simple yet lovely plants that are part of the asteraceae botanical family, but did you know that there is such thing as a daisy bush?

The aster plant family is one of the largest flowering plant families in the world, with species that exist in nearly every type of biome. The daisy bush is a native plant to New Zealand, and graces both urban and rural settings with flurries of daisy-like flowers.

The daisy bush was first discovered by Johann Gottfried Olearius (hence the scientific name) who was a passionate German botanist. His discovery propelled the popularity of this evergreen shrub, and they are now cultivated all over the planet.

This evergreen shrub is superbly resilient and can be trained into any shape you could possibly imagine. Due to their tolerance, they are perfect as coastal plants or for mass planting in urban settings.

Read on to learn all about olearia plants, where they come from, how to care for them, and how to grow one of these flowering plants of your very own!

What do Olearia Plants Look Like?

Huge and bushy olearia shrub with blooming white flowers

Growth Habit

Gardeners tend to love olearia shrubs because they are greatly varying and can be fit into nearly any application you’d like it to. They can grow as small herbaceous shrubs all the way to small trees! Olearias are very fast growing and can grow anywhere from 1-20 feet in height!

Leaves

The daisy bush is an evergreen plant, meaning that it has leaves that will remain green and persist all year long. The leaf shape and texture will vary greatly depending on the variety, cultivar, or species.

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Olearia leaves can be either smooth or covered with hairs, with others that even excrete a sticky substance. Leaves can grow either oppositely from one another, sparsely along the stem, or in clusters. Many species have an olive green upper surface with a nearly white lower surface.

Flowers

Olearie plants have that classic daisy flower shape to them. Though they will be in varying sizes and colors, they are characterized by their flower heads arranged in a single row of ray florets surrounding a centre disc.

Olearia flowers will either grow singly on a flower stem or in dense clusters at the ends of stems or in the leaf axils of the plant. Each flower will be any shade ranged from white, pink, mauve, or purple.

Olearia flowers will usually begin to bloom in the late spring or early summer and last for many weeks, sometimes even until late autumn. Once they blossom, they will explode so enthusiastically that they conceal the evergreen leaves below them.

What are some Olearia Species?

Small and bushy daisy bushes will purple blooming flowers

Dusty Daisy Bush (Olearia Phlogopappa)

Either known as the alpine daisy bush or the dusty daisy bush, this olearia species can be found growing at high altitudes in the eastern part of south Australia, specifically Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

Olearia phlogopappa can be identified by its grey green foliage or pink or mauve daisy flowers that bloom in the late summer. They usually grow as a small shrub up to 9 feet tall.

Mountain Holly (Olearia Macrodonta)

In New Zealand, this olearia species is commonly known as either arorangi, New Zealand holly, or mountain holly. This is a tree that is endemic to New Zealand and grows in the sub alpine.

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Olearia macrodonta refers to the large and heavily toothed foliage of the plant. They bear classic white flowers with yellow centre discs and can grow up to 19 feet in height!

Coastal Daisy Tree (Olearia Solandri)

The coastal daisy shrub is a very commonly planted coastal hedge plant of the south island of New Zealand. They are one of the most popular garden cultivars that are grown there because of their tolerance to salt spray.

Olearia solandri can be identified by its upright and bushy growth habit, and it can grow to be up to 13 feet tall. This small tree also bears tiny evergreen leaves and white flowers.

Sweet Daisy Tree (Olearia x Haastii)

Olearia x haastii is a very popular olearia cultivar that is well known among the gardening population for several reasons. This is a large evergreen shrub that can be used in any garden application and is native to western Australia.

This olearia cultivar can be identified by its rounded crown shape comprised of small and waxy olive green, fleshy leaves with a white underside. They also bear intense clusters of white flowers in the summer with a pleasant vanilla fragrance.

Scented Tree Daisy (Olearia Odorata)

The scented tree daisy is a wonderful type of shrub that is endemic to western Australia though also grows in New Zealand as an ornamental plant.

O odorata can be identified by its many interlacing twigs (this is called a divaricating shrub) and light green leaves. They also grow wonderfully scented, small white flowers.

Where is the Olearia Shrub a Native Plant?

Small daisy bush with white flowers growing in the Australian desert

One of the most valuable things that I have learned throughout my gardening career, is that learning where a plant is native to really enables you to understand how to keep them happy outside of their natural habitat!

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For example, a person living in England might find it challenging to keep an orange tree alive during those gloomy winters, and a person living in Florida could really struggle with attempting to keep a Sitka spruce tree happy. Sometimes the easiest way to garden is to work with what you’e got (but if you’ve got a greenhouse, you can do almost anything!)

The olearias are native plants to Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. They prefer to live in the tropical, subtropical, and temperate places in the world. They can exist outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 8 through 10, but should be brought indoors in the colder months in all other zones.

What are the Growing Conditions of Olearia Shrubs?

Now that we know all of the essential information about olearia shrubs, it is time for you to learn just how low maintenance and resilient they really are! Growing olearia is wonderfully simple and can easily be incorporated into your regular gardening routine.

Amazing coastal daisy shrub growing by the seaside with blooming flowers

Soil Type

Even though the olearia plant can handle nearly anything that you toss at it, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking the soil type that it will be growing in. These plants tend to perform best when they are planted in soil that is very well draining and fertile.

A quick and easy way to accomplish both of these things is by incorporating some compost into the soil at the beginning of the growing season. This will both increase nutrient content and increase drainage!

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Water Level

Olearia plants are used to living in places that experience long periods of drought, so this should help you figure out how they like to be watered! Just remember: under watering is better than over watering!

When the plant is first getting established it is best to keep the soil moist, but when the plant is established it only needs to be watered every once in a while. Natural precipitation will usually suffice unless there is an extended period of drought, where you can then water your plant.

Sun Exposure

One thing that olearia plants are rather specific about it sun exposure. These are sun loving creatures and really thrive when they receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Though they are able to tolerate partial shade, too much shade can sometimes result in less enthusiastic flower blossoms and can even lead to fungal issues.

Just budding olearia flowers growing on a macrodonta species

Temperature

Olearia plants are used to living in some pretty warm places that don’t experience the harsh winter of northern North America. Though they can tolerate small amounts of frost, they should be brought indoors once temperatures regularly dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer

Olearia plants love living in fertile soil, so don’t be afraid to incorporate some starting at the beginning of their growing season in the spring!

You can use either a balanced fertilizer or you can simply incorporate some compost to the soil as well to achieve similar results.

Pruning

Though not entirely necessary, olearia plants respond very positively to hard pruning. The best time of year to prune is in the fall after the plant has finished flowering.

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Don’t be afraid to shape your daisy bush however you would like. They can some seriously hard pruning and will only come back more vigorously the following early spring!

Otherwise, reserve pruning for when there is a branch that is broken or damaged, appears as sickly, or is growing in an awkward direction.

How do you Propagate an Olearia Plant?

Bright white flower clusters of the olearia plant against evergreen foliage

Now that you’ve learned all about how simple it is to care for olearia plants, it’s time to learn how to incorporate one of your very own into your garden!

Olearia can be propagated either through seed or through taking stem cuttings. Here are a few simple steps to get you going:

1. If starting from seed, begin your process 3-4 weeks before the last frost date of the spring is expected. If starting from cuttings, begin process 2 weeks before the last expected frost date.

2. Sow seed directly into a potting medium comprised of half sand and half vermiculite. Sprinkle a light sand layer on top but don’t cover the seeds entirely as they need light for successful germination.

2(A). Alternatively, take your cutting and remove the bottommost leaves. Dip the cutting in some root hormone and plant it into the same potting medium.

3. Place your pots in a south facing window and ensure that the soil remains moist as the plants are getting established. Seeds should germinate in 4-5 weeks, and cuttings should start to take root in 2 weeks.

4. After the last threat of frost has passed, pick an area on your property that has full sun exposure and well draining soil. This will be the permanent home for your new plants!

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How is the Olearia Shrub Used?

Incredible ornamental daisy bush growing in the shape of a heart

Ornamental Plant

The olearia shrub is the perfect plant for you if you have tons of space to fill and don’t want to put too much time and effort into growing something. They are also so lovely that they’ve been awarded by the Royal Horticultural Society!

Gardeners love the daisy shrub to use as a border plant as they can easily tolerate living next to high traffic areas. They’re also perfect as a hedging plant, for highway planting or coastal planting because they are tolerant of both pollution and salt spray.

But they aren’t only tolerant plants. They are impeccably lovely and will grace any balcony, garden, or container with masses of happy daisy flowers.

FAQs

Are olearia plants deer resistant?

Another reason why olearia plants are wonderful is because they are entirely resistant to nibbling from larger pests like deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

What are the damaging agents to olearia plants?

Much of the damage caused to an olearia plants will result from having soil that is too saturated or that is not properly drained. They can experience root rot or fungal disease if they are not planted in the proper soil type.

How should an olearia shrub be pruned?

Though not entirely necessary, olearia plants respond very positively to hard pruning. The best time of year to prune is in the fall after the plant has finished flowering.

Don’t be afraid to shape your daisy bush however you would like. They can some seriously hard pruning and will only come back more vigorously the following early spring!

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Otherwise, reserve pruning for when there is a branch that is broken or damaged, appears as sickly, or is growing in an awkward direction.

How fast do olearia shrubs grow?

Another reason why gardeners love olearia shrubs is because they are super fast growing! This will vary from species to species, but on average they will reach their full size between 8 and 16 months.

Are daisies weeds?

It is a common misconception to think that certain members of the aster family are weeds – like daisies and dandelions – but in fact they are not weeds and are beneficial to both animals and humans. Not to mention they are a valuable source of nectar for many pollinator species.

What is the conservation status of olearia plants?

According to the Australian plant census, there are many species that have a conservation status of being endangered or extremely rare.

When do olearia flowers bloom?

Olearia flowers will usually begin to bloom in the late spring or early summer and last for many weeks, sometimes even until late autumn. Once they blossom, they will explode so enthusiastically that they conceal the evergreen leaves below them.

How often does an olearia plant need to be watered?

Olearia plants are used to living in places that experience long periods of drought, so this should help you figure out how they like to be watered! Just remember: under watering is better than over watering!

When the plant is first getting established it is best to keep the soil moist, but when the plant is established it only needs to be watered every once in a while. Natural precipitation will usually suffice unless there is an extended period of drought, where you can then water your plant.

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Can an olearia plant be grown indoors?

Olearia plants can easily be grown indoors in pots as long as those pots have drainage holes and if the pots are placed in a south facing window so that they can receive the proper amount of sun exposure.

Do olearia plants need fertilizer?

Olearia plants love living in fertile soil, so don’t be afraid to incorporate some starting at the beginning of their growing season in the spring!

You can use either a balanced fertilizer or you can simply incorporate some compost to the soil as well to achieve similar results.

What USDA zones can olearia plants grow in?

The olearias are native plants to Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. They prefer to live in the tropical, subtropical, and temperate places in the world. They can exist outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 8 through 10, but should be brought indoors in the colder months in all other zones.

Are olearia plants perennials or annuals?

Olearia plants are perennial, meaning that they will continue to produce flower blossoms year after year as long as their ideal growing conditions are maintained.

Are olearia plants hardy?

Olearia plants are used to living in some pretty warm places that don’t experience the harsh winter of northern North America. Though they can tolerate small amounts of frost, they should be brought indoors once temperatures regularly dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is an olearia plant shade tolerant?

One thing that olearia plants are rather specific about it sun exposure. These are sun loving creatures and really thrive when they receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

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Though they are able to tolerate partial shade, too much shade can sometimes result in less enthusiastic flower blossoms and can even lead to fungal issues.

How tall do olearia shrubs get?

Gardeners tend to love olearia shrubs because they are greatly varying and can be fit into nearly any application you’d like it to.

They can grow as small herbaceous shrubs all the way to small trees! Olearias are very fast growing and can grow anywhere from 1-20 feet in height!

What colors do olearia flowers come in?

Olearie plants have that classic daisy flower shape to them. Though they will be in varying sizes and colors, they are characterized by their flower heads arranged in a single row of ray florets surrounding a centre disc.

Olearia flowers will either grow singly on a flower stem or in dense clusters at the ends of stems or in the leaf axils of the plant. Each flower will be any shade ranged from white, pink, mauve, or purple.

What is the ideal soil type for an olearia plant?

Even though the olearia plant can handle nearly anything that you toss at it, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking the soil type that it will be growing in.

These plants tend to perform best when they are planted in soil that is very well draining and fertile.

A quick and easy way to accomplish both of these things is by incorporating some compost into the soil at the beginning of the growing season. This will both increase nutrient content and increase drainage!

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