A very particular and exotic shrub, the metrosideros comes from Australia and New Zealand, where some dozens of species are present; in Italy, Metrosideros excelsa and Metrosideros villosa are cultivated, along with some cultivars. It is a small evergreen shrub, with large leathery leaves, generally gray-green; in late spring and until the end of summer it produces apical buds made up of small red flowers; feathery-looking. It is a fairly slow growing shrub; which, however, can reach a height of a few meters in nature; specimens grown in Europe generally remain fairly small in size, and do not exceed 200-250 cm in height, which they reach over the years.
These shrubs are very well adapted to life in hot and dry regions, they love very sunny positions, a very well drained soil, and completely devoid of water stagnations, even stony; instead they fear frost, and the minimum winter temperature should always be above 2-4 ° C.They can withstand brief frosts of slight entity, which almost certainly can cause burns on the outer foliage, which will be removed in spring.Therefore it is good to place the metrosideros in a very sunny place and sheltered from the cold and wind; if we live in a region with a harsh winter climate it is advisable to put this shrub in pot, so that it can be moved to a cold greenhouse during the winter.Cultivation
Watering will be regular during the summer; avoiding watering if the soil is still damp, and remembering that the plant is easily subject to rotting and tolerates drought well. During the winter injuries we can safely suspend the watering for the plants placed in the ground, while it will be necessary to sporadically water the potted plants, especially if placed in a greenhouse.
At the end of winter we shorten only the damaged branches, avoiding excessive pruning of the plant, in fact already in winter the metrosideros prepare the buds, which would be removed by an excessively drastic pruning.
In the same period we spread at the foot of the plant some slow release granular fertilizer for flowering plants, to guarantee the right level of mineral salts in the soil.
Metrosideros - Metrosideros: A shrub in a vase
Most of the shrubs that we grow in the garden can be successfully cultivated also in pots, provided that we follow some simple rules.
First of all, remember to supply the plant with a good amount of land where its roots sink: so we choose a large container, and fill it with a good top quality soil.
Secondly we always remember that potted plants have only a small portion of land in which to look for mineral salts and water, and therefore they are more easily subjected to water stress caused by excess or lack of water, and more easily suffer if we exceed with the fertilizations, or if vice versa we completely forget fertilizations and repottings.
For this reason we try to devote a little more time to potted plants, to the detriment of those in open ground.
We also remember that a special attention must be given to plants that in winter are covered with protections or placed in greenhouses, in fact the protections often prevent the rain water from reaching the ground at the foot of the plant and, especially in the case of evergreen plants , this often leads to the death of the whole plant.