Firespikes (Ondontonema) are Back in Vogue

I wonder if people realise that nothing is in vogue until the fashion guru, or police says so.  It’s no different in the garden.

This month’s Gardening Australia magazine featured a two page spread on the Firespike (Odontonema), an old fashion hedging plant that was imported into Australia in the 1920s.  I had such a hedge that I recently chopped down – just before that issue was published, because I read the magazine second hand.  No, it was because I had to.

Since the 20s, when it was known as Red Justicia, the hedge had grown into a tangled thicket that might have guarded the Sleeping Beauty; it was impenetrable, gnarly and frankly, ugly.  My neighbour loved it because he only sees the new growth and flowers above the fence but the tangled wood had to go.  However, before it went, I took cuttings.


What my neighbour sees; I didn’t take a photo of the ugly bit.

Being the Red Devil that I used to call it, the cuttings are already flowering and new shoots have come up from the ground so I will have to be vigilant from now on.


No doubt the write-up will engender interest in the plant and we will see it in the nurseries.  I can see why it is popular because it grows quickly, flowers profusely in late summer/autumn and it is drought tolerant.  It just grows and grows and grows… however, it does not mind being cut back severely.  Impossible to kill.

I am a volunteer propagator for the Huge Plant Sale that raises funds for cancer research and services so mine will be on sale in April, the first of our bi-annual sale.HUGE PLANT SALE copy

About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
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10 Responses to Firespikes (Ondontonema) are Back in Vogue

  1. 123degrees says:

    I will spread the news about th plant sale, sorry to have missed propagation day but will come to th next one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. taphian says:

    It was a really nice plant and the new ones will grow soon, dear Mary. It’s really interesting to see the flowers and trees you have in Australia. Here everything is covered under snow :( I need springtime. Have a nice day, kind regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kira King says:

    We have this, and I never knew what it was called! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. arlingwoman says:

    I’ll never forget when I realized that a planted landscape could become as dated as a kitchen or a suit of clothes. Having worked with landscapers, I realize they need to sell new things, but I always have an idea what the in vogue plants are!

    Liked by 1 person

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