One of the more recent addition to the native plant lovers palette are the Ptilotus species, commonly called the “Pussy Tail Plant”. And with more than one species, and now some named cultivars they are becoming more widely grown.
Ptilotus are a herbaceous perennial commonly referred to as ‘pussy tails’ with P. exaltatus known as the ‘Pink Mulla Mulla’. A cultivar named P. exaltatus ‘Joey’ is one of the more popular varieties on the market, although the genus does have more to offer.
With nearly 100 species found across Australia this is a diverse group of plants, with a few finding their way into cultivation over recent years.
It is both Ptilotus nobilis and ptilotus exaltatus are the most widely grown of these sun loving plants and requires a well drained position. Both species are finding a place both in the garden and as a cut flower with much research being done into the genus.
The main requirement is exceptional drainage and good sun. In damp or boggy soils the plants will not survive through winter. Many gardeners choose to grow Ptilotus in containers using a potting medium with added perlite to ensure good drainage. A raised garden bed is another option.
Protection from heavy frost is important especially with young plants. Fertilizer is not generally required, although a little low phosphate native plant type can be used in spring in very poor soils.
- P. nobilis is available from some specialist nurseries and with its soft flowing flowers will certainly make an impact in the garden.
- P. exaltatus is another species worth considering. They can be difficult and do require a well drained position, but are well worth the effort, ask for growing notes for this one.
- P. spathulatus is a different form and makes an interesting ground cover.
- Ptilotus manglesii – Very attractive rose pink tipped flowers.