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Banksia Serrata Growing and Care Guide

When it comes to flowering plants that add character to your garden, the Banksia Serrata definitely takes the cake. This fabulous fauna is grown in gardens all around the world, specifically for its beautiful, bird-attracting flowers.

It’s easy to cultivate, hassle-free to grow and flowers for months at a time. Follow our growing and care guide to help make sure you know the best spots to grow your banksia and how to look after it correctly for many years of happy flowering. 


Banksia Serrata Growing and Care Guide

The banksia serrata is a great option for landscaping as it’s not only beautiful but is fully drought, fire, salt and drought resistant.

As drought resistant gardens become more popular, the banksia serrata truly is a great addition that can add colour and vibrancy to especially rocky gardens. 

What is Banksia Serrata?

What is Banksia Serrata


Banksia serrata form part of the protaceae family. Also known as the saw banksia or old man banksia, the scientific name pays tribute to the famed botanist Sir Joseph Banks who had first cultivated the plant from Australia. 

Similar to the banksia spinulosa, the banksia serrata is a widespread Australian native, found specifically around forests, coastlines and forests. 

The banksia species are evergreen perennial plants that vary between prostrate shrubs to low branching trees. Some serrata varieties can grow as tall as 50 feet in height. 

The best way to recognize the serrata plant is by its lanceolate, serrated, green-grey leaves and cream-colored beacon-like blooms. Each bloom carries hundreds or little bunched flowers. 

While the banksia shares many features with a bottle-brush, the banksia isn’t actually a bottle-brush species. You will also find that the banksia serrata produces a ‘fruit’ which resembles a nut, called follicles. 

These are produced to protect the seeds from the many animals the serrata attracts. Banksia are known to be fast-growing plants and do best when growing in sandy soil. 

Plus, banksia trees are known to live for a whole century. So, when in the right spot your banksia serrata will have many beautiful blooming years. 

How to Grow Banksia Serrata

When it comes to where to grow the banksia serrata, whether in a pot or in soil, you’ll want to find a sunny or semi-shaded spot with well-draining soil.

They aren’t known to do well in high-humidity climates and are very susceptible to over watering. However, they are easy to cultivate and grow in the right conditions. 

Banksia Serrata Growth Rate

The banksia serrata will take a few years to grow into a flowering plant, but the wait is definitely worth it. If grown from a seed, it will take 2 to 3 years before it begins to bloom and 5 to 6 years to attain their full height. 

banksia serrata is also known as saw banksia or old man banksia


How to Grow Banksia Serrata from a Seed

This is a cost-effective way to grow banksia serrata. Simply:

  • Place a serrata cone/fruit in the oven at 49°F for an hour. 
  • Once follicles open remove seeds with tweezers. (Each follicle should have 2 seeds)
  • As banksia are prone to disease, sanitize your seed tray before sowing. 
  • Sow seeds into a seed raising mix.

Banksia seeds will take 14 to 60 days to germinate.

Planting Old Man Banksia into Soil

When planting into soil you’ll want to: 

  1. Dig a hole twice the size of your rootstock. 
  2. Fork the soil well before planting to improve drainage.
  3. Gently tease the roots of the rootstock and place into the hole. 
  4. Backfill with soil until you can create a raised ring around the base stem. 
  5. Add mulch around the base. 

Refer to this guide to find out how much mulch you will need

Caring for Banksia Serrata 

While your banksia won’t require much everyday care, you will want to give your banksia just a little attention every now and then. 

When it comes to how much water to give your banksia it is recommended to water very regularly in the first two years of growing. Thereafter, watering can become infrequent, especially when there is a lot of natural downpour.  You really want to avoid over watering. 

It is recommended to feed your banksia in spring and autumn, just after pruning. You will make use of low-phosphorus fertilizers only

It is also recommended to regularly add finely chopped bark or compost to the soil to improve drainage and texture. Learn the benefits of making your own compost and how to do it here

Common Banksia Pests and Diseases

banksia serrata is a widespread Australian native


While the banksia plants have very little pest problems apart from the odd beetle or caterpillar, they are particularly susceptible to root rot or fungal disease. 

If you’re wondering why banksia trees die, the main reason is root rot. Cinnamon fungus or dieback is the most common fungus and is a very dangerous problem around Australia. 

Other common diseases include:

  • Grey mold.
  • Verticillium wilt.
  • White root rot.
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot. 

Most fungal issues can be treated with a natural fungicide. However, should you suspect cinnamon rot it is vital to remove all parts of the plant and destroy them to avoid further infection. 

Should your leaves begin to yellow, your banksia may have an iron deficiency or there may be an issue with the soil PH levels. 

Banksia Serrata Frequently Asked Questions

How fast does banksia serrata grow?

This plant will take a few years to grow into its flowering. Seed-grown plants can take 2 to 3 years before blooming and 5 to 6 years to reach their full height. They are generally considered moderate-growing flowering plants. 

Do banksias need full sun?

For proper growth and prolific blooms, banksias do need full sunlight, well-draining soil and excellent air circulation. Though they can grow in part shade, their appearance and flowers will be massively compromised. 

How long do banksia trees last?

In optimal conditions and with good care, banksias can live for over 100 years. 

Do banksias have a scent?

Yes, the blooms tend to feature a sweet honey fragrance which is why cut flowers from banksias are so popular in floristry.

Should You Prune Your Banksia? 

Most banksia varieties respond well to light pruning and should be done about once a year. Pruning will also help keep your banksia shape. 

As your banksia blooms in the spring and summer months, you may want to remove dead flowers and wood during the colder seasons. Tip pruning or growing shoots will also avoid growing leggy plants. 

What Animals Eat Banksia?

Many of the banksia species form a crucial part of the food chain in the Australian bush. As they are heavy producers of nectar, they attract many types of animals. 

Common nectivorous feeders include: 

  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Possums
  • Stingless Bees

The banksia serrata won’t only add some eye-catching beauty to your backyard- it might even bring some wonderful wildlife, too. 

Some Last Banksia Serrata Growing Tips

  • In the early stages of growing, water your banksia plant twice a week. Be sure that soil dries out between watering.
  • Be sure to use a sharp pair of pruning shears when pruning to ensure a clean cut. 
  • The banksia serrata is great for family gardens and playgrounds as it is not considered toxic or poisonous to humans. 
  • Consider using flower cut offs to create beautiful flower arrangements. 
  • The purple-brown wood of banksia serrata trees is very strong and great for woodworking as it is not likely to split under nails. 
  • Avoid planting your banksia serrata in an overly shaded area as they tend to suck a lot of the moisture and nutrients out of the ground when not getting enough sun. 
  • The dwarf variety of the banksia serrata, also known as the Banksia Pygmy Possum, is great flower beds or smaller garden areas as they grow up to 6 to 7 feet wide but only 11-inches tall. 
  • Should your flowers begin to discolor or should leave die off, be sure to check your soil moisture levels or look for signs of fungal infection.

Wrapping Up Our Banksia Serrata Guide

Whichever variety of banksia you choose, be sure to find the right location that offers well-draining soil and sufficient sunlight. With occasional watering and fertilization, your banksia serrata plant can live many happy flowering years. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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