Acacia is a very large genus of as many as 1300 species, mainly trees and shrubs found in tropical and warm temperate regions of the Americas, Asia, Africa and particularly Australia where they are known as Wattles. Australia has two thirds of the world's species, so you can imagine that there is a type of wattle for every situation. The largest and most impressive is the Silver wattle, or Acacia dealbata. This evergreen is native of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and is a stunning small to medium tree which typically grows  20 to 30 feet high and is suitable for dry areas with mild winters. Silver wattle is noted for its exceptionally fine, silver-grey, delicate foliage. This foliage is harvested commercially by the florist industry for its pretty, fern-like quality and is available year round. Whereas the foliage is quietly handsome, the highly fragrant flowers, suspended in large racemes, are stunning. They are typical of the genus, being globe shaped clusters of bright golden stamens approximately a quarter of an inch across.

Acacias are basically tough plants but their susceptibility to frost means they can only be grown in areas with relatively mild winters. However, frost hardiness seems to increase greatly with age, with young plants much more sensitive to cold than mature ones. Acacias, or Wattles, should be grown in a fertile, neutral to acid soil in a sheltered position in full sun. A. Silver wattle is also well adapted to summer drought but should be watered thoroughly until established. In areas at the limits of hardiness, plant it near the base of a sheltered south facing wall.

It can withstand several degrees of frost and has been known to survive the mid-teens Fahrenheit for short periods.

Silver wattle is quite common in Australia and in the warmest parts of the UK and the west coast of North America where it has naturalized.

Other notable acacias are Purpleleaf acacia or Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ and Weeping acacia or Acacia pendula.


Silver wattle

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