Australian Native Plant Profile: Lilac Hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii)
Common Names: Lilac Hibiscus, Blue Hibiscus
Synonyms: Hibiscus huegelii, Hibiscus wrayae
Alyogyne huegelii is an evergreen, woody, perennial shrub growing to 2m high by 2m wide.
Characteristics of Alyogyne huegelii
Alyogyne huegelii is hardy and has low water requirements once established. One was observed to wilt during but recover from five consecutive days of 45oC after receiving no watering for a month prior. The deeply lobed foliage reminiscent of certain varieties of geraniums is attractive when kept compact by regular tip pruning. Flowers sporadicly throughout the year producing prolific amounts of single flowers 7-10cm in diameter lasting only 1-2 days each. The flowers have spectacular thin satin texture with conspicuous venation and darker or paler throats. Flower colour is available in white, pale yellow, pinks, lilacs, mauves and royal purples. Flowers can be quite variable depending on the cultivar or seeding with open forms, partially closed tulip forms and cultivars resembling frilly roses available.
Horticultural uses of Alyogyne huegelii
Alyogyne huegelii is ideal to use as a boarder shrub or specimen plant. It can be used as an informal hedge or screening plant if tipped pruned regularly to encourage bushy growth. Provides habitat for birds. Appropriate for growing in containers.
Cultural uses of Alyogyne huegelii
The flowers, leaves and roots of A. huegelii are edible although not particularly palatable. The flowers are said to be relished as food source by pet tortoises providing they are free of pesticide residues.
Growing limitations of Alyogyne huegelii
Good drainage is essential when choosing a site to grow Alyogyne huegelii. It is intolerant of high phosphorus fertilizers. It is best planted in a sheltered location as the branches can be brittle and prone to breaking off in strong winds. Because of this fragility, it is not suitable for use as a windbreak.
Natural growing conditions of Alyogyne huegelii
Alyogyne huegelii is native to South-Western Western Australia and Southern South Australia, where it is naturally found growing in sand and gravel soils. These areas experience approximately an average minimum temperature of 16oC and maximum of 26oC during January and an average minimum temperature of 7oC and maximum of 17oC during July. The mean annual rainfall is 677mm concentrated from June to August, with on average 71 days of rainfall greater than 1mm across the year.
Growing Alyogyne huegelii
Propagation of Alyogyne huegelii is typically done from semi-hardwood tip cuttings placed into media and kept misted or hardwood cuttings placed directly into the ground if cultivar characteristics are to be kept. Will also germinate easily from seed. Plants should be tip pruned regularly from a young age to encourage a compact growth habit and strong root system. Keeping the growth habit compact also helps to prevent wind damage. Water regularly until established. Survives on rainwater once established but benefits from watering if it hasn't rained for a month. Can be mulched to prevent weeds and soil water loss however keep mulch clear of trunks to prevent rot. Tolerant of drought. Can cope with some humidity as long as good drainage is provided. Transplants easily.
Don't apply fertiliser unless growth is particularly slow or deficiencies are showing, and then only use a low phosphorus, slow-release fertiliser applied as a sidedressing. Benefits from a regular moderate pruning after flowering has finished each year.