The Lowdown on Lilly Pilly

Nearly half of Kiwis don’t know their neighbours, don’t get on with them, or would prefer they weren’t there. Sometimes, it’s a lack of privacy that causes frustration, and other times, it’s noise. It might seem like the only way to escape your neighbours is by moving, but there’s actually another way. It could be time to look at your hedging options – such as Lilly Pilly.

Lilly Pilly is hands down one of the most popular hedging plants in NZ, and it’s of no surprise to anyone why. It grows quickly, doesn’t sulk in winter, and has everchanging foliage that can make every time you go outside a surprise.  

It also makes for an effective noise barrier when trimmed and shaped correctly, and acts as a privacy screen at the same time.

Lilly Pilly is a broad term for a range of plants in NZ, but some are better than others. Eugenia Ventenati would have to be one variety that almost walks out the door as soon as it arrives in a nursery. It’s dense, stunning, and can handle a little bit of neglect if you haven’t had time to call your friendly local gardener.

You can plant Eugenia Ventenati at around 0.75 metres apart and watch as the hedges grow up to between 1.5 and three metres tall. They thrive in full sun and free-draining soil and love it when you treat them to some organic matter as well.

When you bring your Lilly Pilly plant home from the nursery, give it as much care and love as you would a newborn. Plant it in a hole that’s twice as large (and deep) as the pot it’s in, and fill it with soil, compost, and sheep pellets. If your soil is a little on the heavier side, you might want to complement that mixture with some gypsum and water deeply.

Lilly Pilly in NZ might love a lot of sunshine, but young plants require plenty of water during those warmer days. It also helps to prune it often, especially during its early growth, so that you can help build the density of the bush. The thicker the hedge, the more privacy and noise control it can offer.

Lilly Pilly NZ

I’m Not a Gardener

Lilly Pilly is a popular plant type in NZ for anyone, not just gardeners. If you need privacy and a little noise dampening, then Lilly Pilly is going to be a superb choice. However, the thought of growing a hedge from scratch can put a lot of people off. Yes, it does need a lot of love and care, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be you who gives it.

Talk to your local gardening expert about hedge growing and trimming. Not only can they offer helpful advice, but they may be able to provide a regular tending service to help your hedges grow up big and strong.

What About Monkey Apple?

Avid gardeners or shelter seekers who are on the hunt for Lilly Pilly in NZ may be confused by all the hate it gets online. Surely, this beautiful evergreen hedge plant is not an unwanted species? Lilly Pilly is a common name in the plant world but is also used to refer to Monkey Apple.

Monkey Apple is, indeed, Lilly Pilly, but it’s classed as a pest plant here in New Zealand. It doesn’t require the best environment to thrive and can also outgrow native trees if it finds a large enough light gap. Given how invasive it is, and that birds can quickly spread its seeds into native forests, it’s banned nationwide.

Nurseries can’t sell it, although some will try, and it can be incredibly hard to kill once you have it. The Auckland City Council recommend a few different approaches for taking care of Monkey Apple – the lesser loved member of the Lilly Pilly NZ family.

  • Pull or dig out the Monkey Apple seedlings

  • Drill holes in stems and fill with two grams of metsulfuron herbicide in 50mL of water

  • Spray in spring and autumn with penetrant and metsulfuron

  • Cut and use stump paint

Go Silly for Lilly Pilly

If you’re in the market for an evergreen hedge that will grow quickly and provide as much privacy and protection as you need, then Lilly Pilly varieties in NZ can deliver. They are hardy, beautiful, and exciting to watch them grow to their full potential.

Be careful with the varieties you select, especially if someone tries to sell you Monkey Apple, and talk to a gardener if you need some advice or assistance. It won’t be long until you’ve got a beautiful, bushy, and well-formed hedge gracing your backyard.

Klaris Chua-Pineda