Dianella caerulea ‘John 316’ King Alfred

Family: Hemerocallidaceae

Dianella caerulea is an attractive upright plant with flax-like leaves to 60 cms high.

Flowers are blue with yellow anthers and are borne on spikes to one metre high and are followed by globular bright blue-purple fruit. It grows from coast to the mountains along Eastern Australia.

This species has many named varieties and this article is about ‘John 316’ King Alfred. Other varieties are ‘Cassa Blue’ and ‘Little Jess’ to name a few.

‘King Alfred’ grows well in full sun and moderately shaded positions. It tolerates salt laden windy positions and is very drought tolerant. It lives on natural rainfall in most of the populated areas of Australia. The maintenance requirements for King Alfred is low, it will only need trimming approximately once every 5 to 8 years if at all.

In the garden

These plants grow quickly in pots and can quickly become pot bound in nurseries.

When this happens nurseries often place the plants on sale at a reduced price and this means a great bargain. However, you will have a few problems when you get the plant home.

The first problem will be to remove the pot, because the roots that have grown through the drainage holes will prevent you knocking the pot away from the root ball. You will need to cut the plastic pot away from the root ball to get it out of the pot.

Once this has been done, you can cut away two to 3 cms of old damaged roots from the bottom of the root ball and plant as normal. A better idea is to cut the plant in half (see photo 3), tidy up the cut leaves and roots, repot with new potting mix and water with a seaweed solution – two plants from one.

An even better suggestion, if you are game, is to cut it into four, clean up the cut leaves and roots, repot with fresh potting mix and again water with a seaweed solution – four plants from one. Being so hardy, they will quickly make new growth ready for planting out into the garden.


Other information

Dianella: Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting

Caerulea: means dark-colored, dark blue, cerulean, azure, sea-colored, sea-green

By Jeff Howes