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 tomentosa is a small to medium shrub up to 1.5 – 2 metres high by a similar width. The greyish green foliage is oval to elliptical in shape, about 25-35 mm long with toothed margins and short, dense hairs on the underside. They are conspicuously veined. The well-displayed, white daisy flower heads occur in spring and early summer and are about 30-50 mm in diameter.
With a few exceptions, olearias are not commonly seen in cultivation. O.tomentosa deserves to be grown more often as it is a hardy shrub for well drained, moist soils in full sun or semi shade. Like many species in the genus, it can become leggy and sparsely foliaged with age and annual pruning after flowering is recommended to restore vigour. The species is tolerant of at least moderate frost and, once established will tolerate extended dry conditions but is unlikely to look at its best unless ample water is available.
Propagation of O.tomentosa may be carried out from seed but germination may be unreliable. Propagation from cuttings of current season’s growth is usually not difficult.
Photo: Australian Daisy Study Group