Name: blueberry lily, blue flax-lily, black anther flax-lily, spreading flax-lily, Dianella revoluta.
Height: up to 1m.
Plant type: clumping perennial.
Climate: cool and warm temperate, subtropical and tropical.
Soil: tolerant of most soil types, but prefers well-drained soils enriched with organic matter.
Position: full sun to shade.
Foliage: green and strappy.
Flowering and fruiting: small purple-blue flowers appear in spring and summer, followed by bright, fleshy, purple-blue berries.
Feeding: feed with a slow-release native fertiliser in spring.
Watering: water regularly until well established.
Blueberry lily is a handsome, tufted perennial with long, strappy green leaves that can grow up to 1m tall. Small purple-blue flowers appear on wiry stems in spring and summer. The flowers open one at a time and only last for a day, allowing the plant to extend its flowering window. Eventually, the flowers are followed by bright purple-blue berries. The berries are edible, fleshy and sweet, and contain a few nutty-flavoured seeds.
It has an extensive underground root system made up of horizontal roots or ‘rhizomes’ that allow the plant to spread and grow into large clumps. It is fast growing and once established is both drought and frost tolerant.
Please note, all Dianella species produce berries but not all are edible and some are even considered toxic. The berries of Dianella revoluta are suitable for eating in moderation. Always check plant labels carefully before purchasing.
This clumping perennial is very hardy once established, so is perfect for planting in low-maintenance gardens. Use along borders, mass planted under trees, dotted in rockeries, or as accent plants in pots. It’s also tolerant of salt spray, so is perfect for landscaping in coastal sites. Pick and eat the berries fresh, add them to fruit salads or cook in sweet or savoury dishes.
Choose a spot in full sun or shade with well-drained soil. Mix in plenty of organic matter, including compost and well-rotted manure, and fork in well. If growing in a pot, use a premium quality potting mix. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove the plant from its pot, gently loosen the soil to free the roots and place in the centre of the planting hole. Backfill, firm the soil and water in well.
Spread a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve soil moisture and suppress competing weeds.
This hardy clumping perennial needs little care and maintenance. Once established, an occasional watering – especially during extended hot, dry spells – and an annual feed will keep them growing well. Remove browning leaves to maintain a tidy appearance.
Over time, this fast-growing native can crowd an area and may need to be thinned to allow room for new growth. The best time to do this is autumn. Use a garden fork to gently lift and divide plants, breaking them up into smaller plants that can be used in other parts of the garden. You may need to lift and divide plants every 3–5 years, depending on the size of your growing space.
Water regularly for the first few weeks. Once established, it is fairly drought tolerant but will benefit from an occasional watering throughout the hotter months.
Feed in spring with an organic, slow-release native fertiliser.
Harvest berries when ripe. They can be harvested from late summer to autumn.
Blueberry lily is fairly pest and disease free.
Grows from seeds or stem/root divisions. To grow seeds, clean and remove flesh from the seeds and let dry. Lightly scarify or gently rub the surface with sandpaper and sow in a punnet of seed-raising mix. Position in a warm, protected spot and mist regularly to keep the soil moist. Germination can take up to four months. Root division is easier and faster. Lift and divide plants in autumn and plant into well-draining soil enriched with organic matter.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Warrigal greens: a native alternative to spinach, perfect for garden beds and pots.
Midyim berry: a low-maintenance native shrub with delicious purple-speckled white berries.
Ruby saltbush: an attractive low-growing shrub with silvery-grey foliage and edible bright red berries.
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Photo credit: Alamy Stock Photo and tuckerbush.com.au