Grevillea 'Long John'


Family: Proteaceae

A shrub that grows to 3 metres high by 5 metres wide. It is reported to be a cross between Grevillea johnsonii x G. longistyla (a NSW species and a QLD species respectively). It also goes by the synonymous cultivar name of Grevillea ‘Elegance’. However, ‘Long John’ is the accepted registered name.

It has leaves to long delicate leaves which are finely dissected, to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide. The leaf segments are only 1 to 3 mm across.

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 spider-racemes which can be elongated to appear shortly ovoid, with inflorescences to about 7 cm long by 5 cm wide. They are a bright deep pink in colour and produced in the upper leaf axils and stem terminals.

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.

The carpels are to 40 mm long, deep red with red tips.

In the garden

A very popular grevillea. It is hardy and can flower heavily. Takes a variety of soils although does better if growing in a well-drained situation. Grow in full sun to part shade.

The delicate dissected foliage is an attractive feature combined with the rich pink inflorescences.

Warning is given that this grevillea can get large with reports it can exceed 5 metres (making it more of a tree). However, it can be pruned (quite hard) if required.

Excellent bird and bee attracting plant. Also makes a good cut flower. Tolerates dry conditions once established. Virtually pest and disease free.


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”.

Note: that this cultivar goes by the name Grevillea ‘Elegance’. The author has not established why this cultivar has two names but ‘Long John’ is the accepted registered trade name.

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.

Long John’ – named for the two parent species G. longistyla and G. johnsonii.

Gardening with Angus – Grevillea ‘Long John’ profile page    https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/grevillea-long-john-synonym-elegance-grevillea/

Australian Native Plants – Grevillea ‘Long John’ profile page

Gardenia – Creating Gardens – Grevillea ‘Long John’ profile page                https://www.gardenia.net/plant/grevillea-long-john

By Dan Clarke