With many flowers per branch, waxflowers each have 4 petals surrounding a central cup containing the anthers and a prominent style. This central cup is often brightly coloured (red or green) in contract to the pastel colours of the petals. Flowers are noticeably waxy and the central cup can fill with nectar. Leaves are thin and needle-like. Many forms have a delicate lemony scent. Waxflower is very prone to fungal infection from Botrytis, which causes grey ‘spider webs’ and can eat away petals.
There are several types. The most common forms are from C. uncinatum: pink, white (cv ‘Alba’), and purple (cv ‘Purple Pride’). C. megalopetalum forms have larger flowers, while C. ciliatum are smaller. Early in the season it is commonly sold in bud as ‘Bud Wax’.
Waxflower is very popular in Australia and since the 1980’s has also gained in popularity in the northern hemisphere markets. It is native to Western Australia where large field plantations were established in the 1980s and 90’s. Most waxflower in Australia are grown in central to southern WA, SA and QLD. Large plantations are now evident in Israel and the US.
Types: C. uncinatum, C. megalopetalum, C. ciliatum
What to look for
- Branches with 1/3 to ½ of flowers open;
- Open flowers should be free of brown marks and petal margins should not be eaten away as this signifies Botrytis infection;
- Shake branches and avoid those with leaf or flower drop as this is a sign of ethylene damage.
- Keep cool at all times.
- Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each stem with sharp secateurs and place in water immediately.
- Don’t use a preservative – the sugar causes excess nectar production. Use clean water with a germicide.
- Replace water every day.
- Wax is very sensitive to ethylene. Keep them away from fruit, car exhausts and cigarette smoke.
- Do not mist – this will spread fungal diseases from flower to flower.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
The origin of the name Chamelaucium is uncertain. Some claim it is from the Greek ‘chamai’ meaning dwarf, and ‘leucos’ white. Others that it comes from the Latin for a bishop’s mitre
These flowers are often called Geraldton Wax as they grow wild close to this town north of Perth, WA.
Botanical Name: Chamelaucium uncinatum, C. megalopetalum, C. ciliatum
Common Names: Geraldton waxflower
Stem Length: 30 to 70 cm
Country of Origin: Australia
Available Colours: Pink, Purple, White