The genus Olearia is found in Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea and has about 130 species native to Australia. They are generally small to medium shrubs commonly known as “daisy bushes”.
Olearia canescens is a small to medium shrub up to 1.5 – 2 metres high by a similar width. The greyish foliage is elliptical in shape, about 20–60 mm long by 5-20 mm wide and covered with greyish, felt-like hairs. The daisy flower heads are white with a yellow centre and are usually seen in late summer – possibly extending through autumn and winter. They are 10-20 mm in diameter.
With a few exceptions, olearias are not commonly seen in cultivation. O.canescens deserves to be grown more often as it is a hardy shrub for well drained, moist soils in full sun or semi shade. The grey foliage makes an attractive contrast with the white flowers. The plant responds well to pruning to maintain a bushy growth habit. The species is tolerant of at least moderate frost and, once established, will tolerate extended dry conditions.
Propagation of O.canescens may be carried out from seed but germination may be unreliable. Propagation from cuttings of current season’s growth is not difficult.
Photo: Brian Walters