NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) is one of the spectacular Australian native plants that produce festive colour around Christmas. It has bright red ‘bracts’, which are modified leaves that surround a small white flower and give the bush its vibrant colour. Popular varieties of NSW Christmas bush include ‘Albery’s Red’ which grows to around 5 m tall and ‘Johanna’s Christmas’ which is a more compact form, reaching around 3 m tall and can be grown in a large pot.
You can cut bunches of NSW Christmas bush for a beautiful vase display. Judith Browne from Sydney Flower School (www.sydneyflowerschool.com.au) has given us her best tips for keeping your vase display of Christmas bush looking fantastic:
· Using a sharp pair of secateurs, cut 30 – 50 cm lengths of NSW Christmas bush in the cool of the early morning. Take a bucket of water out into the garden with you, so you can immediately plunge the ends of the cut stems into the water as it’s important not to let the stems dry out. Immersing the entire bunch, from the base of the stem to tip of the foliage, for 10 minutes after picking will help to reduce the flowers (bracts) from drying out.
· Back indoors, half fill a vase with cool, clean water. Remove the lower foliage from each stem, so that no leaves will be under the water. Re-cut the base of each stem at a 45 degree angle just prior to placing in the vase. This helps to keep the cut stem surface off the base of the vase.
· Judith suggests displaying Christmas bush in a bunch on its own. This helps to let them shine and Judith reminds us that “a mass is always more appealing than a mess”!
· Replace the vase water every other day. Re-cutting the stem bases can also help the prolong the vase life.
Mist foliage of Christmas bush regularly to help keep it looking fresh.