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Tucker bush lilly pilly bush with pink berries
Lilly pilly is undoubtedly once of the most popular landscaping plants. But it has a juicy little secret! The pink-red berries are edible and delicious eaten fresh or in jams, jellies and other sweet treats. Tucker Bush lilly pilly is particularly special as it only grows 3–4m tall and can be trimmed into a fruiting hedge or screen, or kept to a compact size in a large pot.

 

What you need to know about Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Name: Tucker Bush lilly pilly, Tucker Bush cherry (Syzygium australe).

Height: 3–4m.

Plant type: evergreen tree.

Climate: cool and warm temperate, sub-tropical, tropical.

Soil: moist and well-drained, enriched with organic matter.

Position: full sun to part shade with protection from strong winds.

Foliage: glossy green with new growth flushed red and bronze.

Flowering and fruiting: fluffy, creamy-white flowers from late spring to early summer, followed by small edible pink-red berries.

Feeding: feed in early spring with a complete fertiliser suitable for native plants.

Watering: water regularly to keep the soil moist.

Appearance and characteristics of Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Tucker Bush lilly pilly is a small to medium upright tree with an attractive canopy of glossy green foliage. The oval-shaped leaves emerge red and bronze before maturing to green. Fluffy, creamy-white flowers appear from spring and are followed by pink-red berries. They are mildly sweet with a crisp, apple-like texture. The berries can stain hard surfaces, so it’s best to pick them when ripe or plant away from footpaths, driveways and paved areas.

Lilly pillies are rainforest trees and can grow upwards of 30m. However, Tucker Bush lilly pilly has been bred to grow to only 3–4m tall and 2m wide, and can easily be pruned to keep it even more compact.

A tucker bush lilly pilly plant with pink berries

Uses for Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Plant Tucker Bush lilly pilly as a feature tree in an ornamental garden or prune into a hedge or privacy screen. It responds well to pruning, so can easily be kept to size or smaller, if preferred. The berries are mildly sweet and can be eaten fresh, made into jams, jellies and chutneys, or used to make cakes, biscuits and muffins.

How to grow Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Choose a spot in full sun to part shade with well-drained soil. Enrich the soil with plenty of compost and organic matter and fork in well. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove the plant from its pot, gently loosen the mix to free the roots and position in the centre of the hole. Backfill, firm down the soil and water in well.

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it away from the main stem, to help conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.

Caring for Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Water regularly until established. Tucker Bush lilly pilly is tolerant of dry conditions, but as a rainforest tree, it prefers moist soil. Top up the mulch annually to help conserve moisture.

Fruit appears a year after planting. Pick the berries when they turn pink or deep red. Birds enjoy eating them too, so use a bird net to protect the fruit if necessary.

How often should you water and feed Tucker Bush lilly pilly?

Water regularly when first planted. Tucker Bush lilly pilly is fairly drought tolerant once established, but prefers to be kept moist. Water once a week in the cooler months and twice a week in summer. Prolonged moisture stress may cause the lower leaves to drop.

Feed annually in spring with a complete organic-based fertiliser suitable for native plants.

How and when to prune Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Lightly prune after harvest to maintain size and height. For hedges and screens, tip prune when young to encourage a bushy habit and trim annually to maintain size and shape.

Diseases and pests that affect Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Tucker Bush lilly pilly can suffer from psyllids, a sap-sucking insect that causes the leaves to become distorted with a bubbly appearance. Currently, there is no chemical control available in the home garden range for psyllids, however, keeping a tree healthy with regular watering and feeding will help protect it from attack and assist with recovery.

How to propagate Tucker Bush lilly pilly

Tucker Bush lilly pilly grows from seeds or cuttings. However, seeds are not true to type, so planting them is not encouraged. To grow from cuttings, take 10–15cm lengths of semi-hardwood material (woody but flexible) from the tree. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone powder or gel. Insert the cuttings into a tray filled with propagating mix, position in a warm spot and water regularly to keep the mix moist. Cuttings should root in 6–8 weeks.

Safety tip

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.

If you like this then try

Queensland Davidson’s plum: a bush tucker favourite, with fleshy plum-like berries that grow along the trunk.

Illawarra plum: an attractive tree with fleshy berry-like fruit that taste of plum with a hint of pine.

Muntries: a spreading ground cover with delicious spiced-apple flavoured berries. 

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

Photo credit: Alamy Stock Photo and tuckerbush.com.au

 

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