Banksia: A Complete Information Guide

by Australian Flowers

Have you seen a banksia tree? Banksias are one of Australia’s best-known plants. They occur naturally in all parts of Australia, except for Tasmania, and range from dense rainforests to woodlands, heaths and mallee scrub. Banksias vary significantly in size, from small shrubs to large trees.

Let’s learn more about Banksias!

About Banksia – It’s Named After

The tree was named after an 18th-century English botanist, Banks himself. The tree is a genus that includes around 75 species and is widely distributed across Australia.

While most of them are shrubs, a few grow into small trees; the tallest recorded tree was 17 metres (56 ft) high. Banksias vary considerably, from 10-centimetre (4 in) Banksia ericifolia to the giant Banksia integrifolia, which can reach 30 metres (98 ft) tall.


Banksia's Leaves

They have leathery leaves, and their flowers are borne in inflorescences called spikes or cones. The leaves are arranged in spirals, though sometimes they are whorled or overlapping. They vary significantly in size between species, from 8 mm to over 400 mm long.

Banksia leaves have a distinctive venation pattern, with many parallel veins branching from midribs. A feature of Banksia foliage is the “domatium” (from Latin domatium, meaning “house”), a cavity found in the base of most leaves. This provides shelter for ants and reduces water loss by trapping humidity around the leaf.


The flower spikes can be up to 38 cm (15 in) long with as many as 200 individual flowers. The flowers are pollinated by birds, which are attracted by the copious nectar produced by the flowers. The tree was named after Sir Joseph Banks, a botanist on Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.

Types of Banksia trees

The tree gives our environment a lot of variety. There are over 170 species, and they come in all shapes and sizes! The trees can range from 0.6m to 30m tall and be either tree-like or shrub-like in growth habit.

Here are some of the different types and varieties of trees that you might come across in Australia.

Banksia Pilostylis

This type is a dense, woody shrub species in the genus. It occurs naturally in southwestern Australia, from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay. It was first collected by Archibald Menzies during the Vancouver Expedition of 1791–1795 and formally described and named by Robert Brown in 1810. In 1971, Alex George transferred it to subgenus, section Banksia because of its resemblance to Banksia verticillata.

Banksia Prostrate

This type also known as Banksia Serrata, is a variety that is prostrate or ground-covering. It is endemic to Australia, occurring naturally in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania.

The flowers are generally yellow but can also be orange or red. These types are popular garden plants for their low-maintenance needs and attractive flowers.

Banksia Longifolia

The leaves of this type of tree are long and narrow, with a serrated margin and a pointed tip. The flowers are yellow, orange or red and occur in clusters of up to 30 blooms. Banksia longifolia is found in woodlands, heathland and coastal areas of Australia.

It can be commonly seen in Banksia woodland, heathland and coastal areas of Australia. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate poor soils and extended dry periods. Once established, it requires little maintenance.

Banksia Tricuspis

Banksia Tricuspis

This type of tree is a tree in the family of Proteaceae. It is found in Australia and New Guinea. The leaves are serrated and range from 2-6 cm in length. The leaves are arranged in whorls of three or four. The flowers are large, bright, and showy. The flower heads are composed of many small florets. Banksia trees can grow to a height of 15m.

Banksia Victoriae

This type is commonly known as the showy Banksia. The tree is found along the east coast of Australia, from Queensland to Victoria. The tree is an important food source for nectar-feeding birds and animals. It has large, showy red and yellow flowers that bloom from October to March. The tree is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 10 metres tall.

Banksia Sphaerocarpa

This is commonly known as the round-fruited Banksia, which is a species of plant in the genus that is endemic to Australia. The round-fruited typically grows as an upright tree to a height of between 5 and 15 metres (16 and 49 ft). It has dark brown bark, which is smooth or fissured with age.

Banksia Sceptrum

This type commonly known as the Royal Banksia is a species of medium-sized to a large tree in the genus. It occurs in southwestern Australia, from Shark Bay in the west to near East Mount Barren in the east and south to just north of Ravensthorpe.

Banksia Solandri

This tree is a beautiful Australian native plant. They thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. With proper care, it can live for many years and provide your garden with beauty and interest year-round. They are low-maintenance plants, but you should know a few things about how to care for them.

If I were to describe this tree in one word, it would be “resilient”. Resilient because it can tolerate extended periods of drought and still maintain a healthy appearance. This tree is an excellent plant for any garden, big or small.

Banksia Praemorsa

This tree commonly known as the Orange Banksia is a tree in the genus. This tree grows to a height of between 10 and 20 metres (33 and 66 ft). It has orange or yellow flowers which appear in spring and summer.

It symbolizes strength, courage and determination. The trees are very hardy and can withstand quite a bit of adversity. They are a popular choice for landscaping in Australia because of their ability to thrive under challenging conditions.

Banksia Speciosa

An Australian plant that is found in a variety of habitats. The trees are evergreen shrubs or trees with leathery leaves and cone-like flower heads. To plant this tree in your garden, you must provide well-drained soil and full sun.

The tree is an excellent plant for providing screening and hedges. When caring for this tree, pruning is only necessary to shape the plant or remove any damaged or diseased branches.

Banksia Honeypot

Banksia Honeypot

Banksia honeypot is very beneficial to the environment. The trees help to stabilize dunes, prevent erosion and provide homes for many animals. The flowers of the honeypot are an essential food source for nectar-feeding birds and mammals. They are also an excellent source of honey for humans.

Growing Banksia

Did you know how important it is to learn where to grow these trees, either from your garden or through the pots, because they are pretty particular about the things they need?

How To Grow At Home

To grow: 

  • First, choose a tree that will suit the size of your garden. They range from 2 to 30 metres tall, so make sure you pick one that will fit! It prefers full sun but tolerates some shade, so choose a spot in your garden that gets plenty of light.
  • Once you’ve chosen your tree, it’s time to plant it. They are drought tolerant once established, but you must water them regularly during the first few years after planting.
  • When planting your tree, make sure you dig a hole twice as wide as the roots and just as deep. They have a tap root system, so it’s important not to plant them too deeply. Water them after planting.

How To Grow In Pots

To grow in pots: 

  • First, these trees need a lot of room to grow. They are fast-growing and can reach heights of up to 30 metres (100 feet) in the wild. So, if you’re growing them in pots, choose a pool at least 50cm (20 inches) wide and deep.
  • An advantage of growing them into your pot is that you can then keep them a manageable size by regularly pruning them. Banksias respond well to pruning, so don’t be afraid to give them a good trim now and then.


The location of your tree is essential as they are adapted to specific conditions in the wild. They grow naturally along the eastern seaboard of Australia, from Queensland to Tasmania. In cultivation, they can be found in most temperate regions with Mediterranean climates.

  • When choosing a location for your tree, it is essential to consider the tree’s eventual size. It can range in height from 2 metres (6.5 ft) to 35 metres (115 ft), with some species (such as Banksia Serrata) growing considerably larger under ideal conditions.


The tree grows in various soil types, from sandy to clayey, but they prefer well-drained soils. They are also tolerant of poor soils and will grow in nutrient-deficient soils. The roots are relatively shallow, so they don’t need deep soils. Banksias growing in deep soils are more likely to suffer from root rot.



A light to consider when planting this tree is the amount of direct sunlight the tree will receive. It prefers full sun to partial shade, so a location with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day would be ideal.

It is essential to consider the size of the tree when determining how much light it will need. It can range in size from small shrubs to large trees, so choose a location that can accommodate the tree’s eventual height.


Banksias are adapted to fire. Many species have cone-like structures which open after being burned and release their seeds. They also have thick bark, which helps protect them from fire. The best climate suit is one with a dry summer and a wet winter. These trees are found in all parts of Australia except for Tasmania.

Banksia Care

Banksias are a great addition to any garden and relatively easy to care for. With proper care, they can live for many years. Here are some tips for you to properly care for your Banksia.


These trees are generally not heavy feeders but benefit from a little extra nutrition during the growing season. A portion of native plant food or slow-release fertilizer applied in spring will boost your plant and encourage more flowers.

Be careful not to overdo it, though – too much fertilizer can cause them to produce lots of leaves and few flowers. If you think your tree needs a little help, try using native plant food or slow-release fertilizer. A light application in spring is usually all that’s required.


When watering, always check the soil before watering. They have shallow root systems, and the soil can dry out quickly. Water early in the day so the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. If possible, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to minimize water evaporation.

They grow best in well-drained soils with good aeration and need little or no supplemental watering during the winter. It will tolerate extended periods of drought but may not flower as profusely. During prolonged dry periods, supplemental watering will encourage flowering.


The plant responds well to pruning and can even be shaped into topiary forms. After flowering, cut back the plant cone by about two-thirds to encourage new growth. You can also remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood at this time.

  • When pruning, always use clean, sharp secateurs or shears. This will help to prevent infection and disease. Make sure you disinfect your tools between cuts. These plants are generally tough plants, but they can be susceptible to disease, so it’s essential to take these precautions.

Common Problem

The common problem for this plant is rusted a fungal disease that affects them. The fungus produces orange-yellow bumps on the plant’s leaves, stems and flowers. This can cause leaf drops and reduced flower production.

If you suspect your plant has rust, take a sample of the affected plant to your local nursery or garden centre for identification. Once the plant has been diagnosed, you can treat it with a fungicide.

Root rot

This disease is caused by a water-borne fungus that affects the roots of the plant, causing them to rot. This can eventually kill the tree.

There are several things you can do to prevent root rot. Make sure your tree is planted in well-draining soil. Water them regularly, but do not over-water them. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, plant them in an elevated spot to prevent waterlogging.

Phosphorous toxicity

It is a common tree problem, especially in young trees. It occurs when the tree is grown in soil with high Phosphorus levels. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the tree to become stunted.

If you think your tree has Phosphorus toxicity, remove it from the affected soil and replant it in fresh soil. You can also try using a Phosphorus-free fertilizer.


Caterpillars on Banksias

Caterpillars are considered the enemy of these trees. Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and can quickly destroy a tree if left unchecked. The best way to control caterpillars is to remove them by hand or use an insecticide.


If your tree is too close to your house, it can block out sunlight and damage your home’s foundation. If you have a tree on your property, make sure to have it regularly inspected by a professional arborist.

Frequently Asked Questions about Banksias

How many species of Banksia are there in Australia?

There are around 80 species in Australia. Some common species include the coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia), Albany banksia (Banksiaserrata), and the goldfields banksia (Banksia ornata).
Many species have brightly coloured flowers, making them a popular feature of Australian gardens. The unique flower structure also makes them an exciting subject for botanical study.

Are Banksias native to Australia?

Yes, they are native to Australia. They’re some of the most iconic Australian plants, and there are around 220 species. They grow in all sorts of habitats across the country, from coastal areas to the Outback.
They have been an essential part of Australian culture for thousands of years. The Aborigines used flowers and cones to make a type of flour, and the sap from some species was used as a natural adhesive. European settlers started using them for various purposes, too – they were used to make tea, dye fabric, and even brew beer!

Are Banksia and bottlebrush the same?

No, Banksia and bottlebrush are not the same. Bottlebrush is a type of shrub native to Australia, while Banksia is a genus of flowering plants also native to Australia. Bottlebrush has white or pink flowers that grow in clusters, while the flowers of banksia vary in colour but are typically orange or yellow. The leaves of each plant are also different – bottlebrush has long, thin leaves, while Banksia’s leaves are more broad and round.

What did Aboriginals use Banksia for?

The Aboriginals used this plant for a variety of purposes. The sap was used to make a sweet drink, and the flowers were eaten as a vegetable. The cones were also eaten, and the seeds were ground into flour to make bread. In addition, the bark was boiled to make a tea that was used to treat diarrhea and other stomach problems. Finally, the leaves were sometimes chewed as a gum substitute.

How long does a banksia take to grow?

It depends on the species. Some can take up to 10 years to flower, while others can take as little as three years.
They are a genus of about 170 species of evergreen shrubs and trees in the family. They are found in Australia and New Guinea. There are about 65 species of banksia trees, most of which grow in Southwest Australia, where they are an essential part of the native flora.

How often should I water my banksia?

The plant needs a moderate amount of water and should be watered regularly (every few days in hot weather and every week or two in cooler weather). They can cope with drought but will flower better if they’re regularly watered. Make sure the soil is moist but not wet before watering.
It can tolerate many soils but prefers sandy soils that drain well. It’s important to avoid over-watering them, as this can lead to root rot. If the soil is wet for more than a day or two after watering, it’s probably being overwatered. An excellent way to test is to stick your finger an inch or so into

Do banksias like acidic soil?

They like acidic soil because it is low in nutrients. The plant is a genus of shrubs and trees in the family Proteaceae. The name is derived from the Australian word banka, meaning “basket”, an allusion to the cylindrical shape of the seed pods. There are about seventy-eight species of banksia, most of which are endemic to Australia.
They grow well in acidic soils with low nutrient levels, but they also require good drainage, or they will suffer from root rot.

How long does it take for a banksia to flower?

Banksias can take up to 10 years to flower after being planted. Some may flower sooner, but it depends on the species and how well it’s been taken care of.
Banksias are unique because they have two types of flowers – the young, developing flower (the bud) and the mature flower. The buds are generally what you see on a banksia plant, and they can take a long time to open (sometimes taking up to a year). Once the buds open, they reveal mature flowers that last only a few days before wilting away.

How do I open Banksia pods?

There are a few different ways to open the pods. One way is to use a pair of scissors or clippers to cut off the stalk of the pod close to the base. You can then use your fingers to pry open the pod and remove the seeds. Another way is to make a small slit in one end of the pod and squeeze the seeds out. You can also roast the seeds like you would pumpkin seeds. Remove them from the pod, rinse them off, and spread them on a baking sheet. Then bake at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Is a Banksia a protea?

No, a Banksia is not a protea. A Banksia is a genus of shrubs and trees in the family Proteaceae, whereas a protea is the name of a genus of flowering plants in the family Proteaceae.

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