Grevillea 'Honey Barbara'


Family: Proteaceae

A large shrub that grows to 3 metres high by 2 metres wide. This cultivar is reported to be a hybrid between two cultivars Grevillea ‘Sylvia’ and G. ‘Honey Gem’. It arose as a seedling in a garden in Grafton and was registered by Anthony Gilfedder.

It has deep green, strongly divided leaves with spreading lobes (pinnatisect), to about 25 cm long by 15 cm wide, with long linear segments to only 0.3 cm across. The lower sides are covered with silvery hairs, contrasting strongly from the upper side. The size of the leaves allow this plant to create dense foliage, especially if pruned.

A grevillea inflorescence is technically a cluster of paired flowers, termed a conflorescence with the overall structure forming a raceme-like appearance. Grevillea species exhibit 3 main inflorescence structures:
1. A cylindrical to ovoid raceme (with flowers emerging around a 360° radius)
2. A single-sided raceme (with flowers produced on only one side, resembling a tooth-brush)
3. A condensed or clustered raceme (usually as long as it is wide, with species referred to as the spider-flowers).

Grevillea mostly produce the inflorescences at the terminals, beyond the foliage, which differs to the closely related Hakea.

This cultivar has a cylindrical raceme, with inflorescences to about 15 cm long by 8 cm wide. They are apricot-orange with yellow and can be produced profusely, over most of the year.

Individual flowers are composed of 1 carpel (female part) where the style and stigma protrude out; 4 stamens hidden away in the perianth; and the perianth (petals and sepals collectively) which connects to a pedicel. Proteaceae flowers do not have any discernible petals or sepals (having only one whorl) and so these are referred to as “tepals” of which there are 4. In this cultivar, the carpels are to 40 mm long, deep yellow with yellow-tips. The perianths are apricot-orange.

In the garden

A very attractive plant for a garden situation with a well-drained soil and in full sun to light shade.

It is reportedly fast growing and hardy. Can tolerate hard pruning but light pruning is much better, after flowering, to create density and promote flowering.

Works well as a lower screening plant. It can produce foliage all the way to ground level.

It can cope without supplementary watering, although plants will flower much more heavily if watered. Frost tolerant.

Very good cut flower, harvest when the inflorescence is in bud rather than full-flowered. The inflorescences are of a good large size but are mainly produced only in winter-spring. It can flower very heavily, creating a spectacular show, and is great for attracting birds, especially parrots and other nectar-feeding birds.


Grevilleas are propagated by three principal methods; seed, cuttings and grafting. To maintain desirable characteristics of a particular plant, vegetative propagation (e.g. cuttings or grafting) must be used. This also applies to propagation of named cultivars.

Other information

Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants native to rainforest and more open habitats in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Sulawesi and other Indonesian islands east of the Wallace Line. NSW currently has about 85 species although with a lot of subspecies and some informal taxa recognised.

Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among First Nations Peoples for their sweet nectar. This could be shaken onto the hand to enjoy, or into a coolamon with a little water to make a sweet drink. They might be referred to as the original “bush lollies”.

Grevillea – was named in honour of Charles Francis Greville (1749-1809), an 18th-century patron of botany and co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society. He was also a British antiquarian, collector and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1790.

‘Honey Barbara’ – named for the colour of the inflorescences and the person who owned the garden where it originated, Barbara Duckworth.

Australian National Botanic Gardens – Australian Cultivar Registration Authority – Grevillea ‘Honey Barbara’ profile page

Gardening with Angus – Grevillea ‘Honey Barbara’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/grevillea-honey-barbara-grevillea/

By Dan Clarke