Saturday, February 28, 2009

Too easy

Unless you're gardening in Antarctica or the Atacama, there are usually a few plants which thrive marvellously well in your district, and yet no-one calls them weeds, because they're not. Here in Sydney there is one plant which is ubiquitous in this way – Murraya paniculata. It's everywhere, and I have eight of them growing on my tiny property, in various spots (seven trimmed into hedges, and one trimmed to fill an awkward space). This is my problem-solver plant, my "go-to" shrub. If I have a nasty assignment for a plant, the murraya gets the gig. Predictably enough, various friends who are professional gardening writers here in Sydney sneer at murrayas. "Too easy" they cry!

Here's the biggest of my murrayas, magnificently filling the role of "please won't something grow under that big olive tree and give a green backdrop to our outdoor dining area". I had tried a couple of other things there in the early days but they all struggled in the shade and the root competition from the olive. "Step aside folks, let a murraya show how it's done." It's been here for years now, and this is it pictured this afternoon, aglow with fresh young foliage following its routine cut-back a month or so ago.

This murraya is a summer-bloomer mostly, and gets its other common names of orange jessamine and (confusingly, for Philadelphus fans) mock orange. The scent of these flowers is almost too sweet, as it's every bit as sweet as an orange tree's scent. On a perfectly still summer morning, opening the back door and getting a waft from the murraya is like walking through the cosmetics section of a department store, where those pretty salesthingies spray shoppers walking past as if they're sheep needing a perfume drench. But I digress... Murraya blooms are fairly short-lived, but you can get a number of flushes of blooms from them, usually a couple of weeks after some heavy rain, as happened this time round.

The other seven murrayas I have on site are all hedging plants. This hedge (three plants in all) does a stirling job hiding the mess of the composting and potting area. Surprisingly it has also turned out to be a favourite home and shelter for small birds such as wrens, bulbuls and silvereyes. My other murraya hedge is at the front of the house, in the worst imaginable spot for a hedge. It's the hedge across the front of our building, which faces south-south-west. So this spot gets no sun for about four months a year in winter plus the worst of the hot afternoon summer sun. And yet it's also dense and green, in bloom and thriving, and has been doing wonderfully well there for the last half-dozen years.

One of the things I love about my Murraya paniculatas, though, is the new foliage which erupts after each cutback. It's a lovely young, fresh, vivid green.

One little-known fact about Murraya paniculata – and this will surprise many Australian gardeners – is that it's listed in the native gardener's bible 'Australian Native Plants', by Wrigley and Fagg, as being native to Australia. It's also a native of South-East Asia as well as northern Australia, but the odd thing is that it thrives so well in temperate Sydney, given that it comes from our tropical north. Down here, these plants are not attacked by pests, need little or no feeding, survive on our natural rainfall and grow in sun, shade or semi-shade.

I do have one other Murraya growing in my garden, and I've mentioned it a few times before in my blog. My beloved curry leaf tree, Murraya koenegii. Here's it's foliage, for comparison with its cousin's foliage, pictured just before this one.

The curry leaf tree's flowers are smaller and less conspicuous than the orange jessamine's, and they have no scent.

There are far more berries than flowers on the curry leaf tree at the moment, and this afternoon, while taking a few shots for this blog, I made an interesting find. As I mentioned in my last blog, my wife Pam is doing a botanical illustration course at the moment, and she's working on a piece on the curry leaf tree. For her course she takes in snippets of leaves and berries from her tree, and now some of the people in the course want to have their own curry leaf tree. Where do you get them, they ask?

They're easy enough to find here in Sydney. I bought mine many years ago as a little seedling for sale in a pot in an Indian spices shop here in Sydney. I occasionally see them in garden centres, too, but the fact is they grow very easily from seed. I popped some seeds in a pot a week or two back and the first one is up this morning. Here it is.

However, while I was walking around my potted curry leaf tree I looked down and noticed half a dozen seedlings coming up from berries which have dropped off the tree. I dug them up carefully, trying to take as much soil as I could, and transferred them to some pots of mix. Each seedling had a good little root system going, and so by this time next week we'll know how many have survived the trauma of my clumsy midday transplanting efforts. And by the end of next week the other four seeds which I sowed in the pot should have come up as well. And, with fingers crossed, we should be able to give little memento curry leaf trees to Pam's fellow course members a few weeks from now.

The incredible ease with which the curry leaf tree seeds have sprouted should sound warning bells that this is probably a weed of the future, of course, but whether something is a weed or not is all about climate and soil. When a plant loves your climate and your soil, it grows like a weed. Take it somewhere not so ideal, and it's just another tree.

I can understand my gardening-writer friends who poo-poo the Murraya paniculatas of Sydney. Sure, there's no challenge in growing it, and it really is used so often in landscaping here that it's truly boring. "Oh look, a murraya hedge," is something you'll never hear around these parts...

But I love the way Murraya paniculata can fill a truly dreadful spot in the garden with vivid, lush greenery, unfailing good health and sweetly scented white blooms. Provided it's grown somewhere truly daunting, where many other plants have tried and failed, it's well worth admiring!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie, What a lovely plant. It's hard to understand why some people eschew the ubiquitous. I guess it's the old axiom "familiarity breeds contempt." But I feel like, heck if it works, why not? And this plant has so many attributes: the fragrant flowers and those lush leaves. It's easy to propagate and easy to grow. What's not to love? :-)

patientgardener said...

What a lovely plant I am sure it would be really appreciated here in the UK where no doubt it would be hard to grow. I do hate that snobby attitude some people have to easy to grow plants. You want a plant to fulfil a certain task and if ths plant does it well then why not

Chookie said...

I'll bite. Murrayas are need pruning every five minutes, and they stink. "Sweet" scent, eh? Try cloying and strong! The lack of diseases and predators (ie, 'easy to grow') means we're looking at a weed of the future here, and the listing of M. paniculata on confirms it. There may be some snobbery about Murrayas, but there are other reasons for not using it, too.

Jamie said...

Chookie, I'll nibble back. Murraya is listed as a weed in south-east Queensland and north Queensland, but not 800km further south here in Sydney.

That's the problem with some 'weed' listings. It's all about climate and soil. In one climate a plant is not a weed, and yet it can be a weed elsewhere. Unfortunately, get labelled a 'weed' in one climate zone and that seems good enough for some to label a plant a weed in all climate zones. That happens all the time with this weeds debate, unfortunately.

As for the perfume, in an untrimmed bush in full bloom it's powerful stuff, but as my murrayas are regularly trimmed back, their flowering is reduced to about one-quarter strength, and that's a perfectly nice amount of perfume to encounter on a still summer morning.

Chandramouli S said...

It's serves as a beautiful hedge, Jamies. That too a plant that has fragrant blooms? Easily 'grow-able'? Whoa! That's something.

Antigonum Cajan said...

I have four/six Murrayas recently planted in our front garden. Our in law gave them as a present when they were little.

My intention is to get some shade in the afternoon, privacy and decrease the noise.

This small tree was very popular in Puerto Rico, USA, many moons ago. Used with that purpose all over the island.

For some reason, the people with
nurseries stop selling them, instead the started the madness of
selling Ficus benjamina, believe it or not, to be used as pruned hedges!

Murrayas are not difficult in terms of diseases, great flowers, intense aroma, leaves are not hard to clean/sweep.

It is one of my top ten to solve
garden needs. Turneras diffusas/ulmifolias and Cupheas are the other tree. They make the signature in my garden, besides the four species of Frangipanis.

Escellent post!

Anonymous said...

I have no luck with my murraya. The leaves and flowers just keep dropping off. All I get is a mess that I have to keep sweeping off. What am I doing wrong? And are the flowers really meant to last only 2-3 days?

JKhoo said...

Hi Jamie
I have been hunting down a seedling for the Murraya Koenigii since I shifted to Australia, found some but they didn't look healthy and the price tag was a bit steep. Would you perhaps sell me one of yours at a reasonable price? I am from Mudgee. Thanks.

Renee said...

Would anyone know how well Murraya's take to transplanting? I have 3 that are 2-3m in height that I would like to transplant. Appreciate any advice! Thanks

Jamie said...

They sound quite large to transplant, but it's still worth a try. The good news is that winter is the ideal time to transplant most plants. The main things with transplanting are:
• Have the new holes dugs before you do the transplant, to reduce the stress level on the plant
• Dig out a root-ball of soil and roots as big as possible, at least 60cm deep and wide.
• Don't prune the plant, as this just adds to its stress
• Water well with a Seasol solution every few weeks, to help the roots re-establish.

However, Murrayas grow so fast and so well (at least here in Sydney) that my preference would just be to plant new, young plants in the new spot and cut down the 2-3m specimens. In 2-3 years you'll have exactly what you want, but if you try transplanting you might or might not be in such good shape, as transplanting larger plants is a risky procedure.

Whatever you decide, good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee and Jamie

Renee did you have any luck in transplanting your Murraya ?

I ask and maybe Jamie will know whether it worked an grew back ok. I am just about to have a pool built which means 3 of my hedges will need to be removed for a few days or a week I think to allow for a bobcat to enter out backyard. I am currently growing a spectacular hedge which is 20 metres long. The plants them selves are about 1.5-2 metres tall. I prumed them a week ago and feed them seasol. I live Bulli NSW and would need to replant this month (January)
Look forward to hearing from you

Jamie said...

I'm no expert but January is a truly dreadful time of year to dig up and replant almost anything here in Sydney/Bulli. But murrayas might prove their indestructibility by surviving even that.
If I were doing the transplants, I would:
a. Not trim the plants back, it only stresses them further.
b. Once dug up, keep them in a shady or semi-shaded spot, and keep their root ball of soil moist, never dry, never soggy.
c. If they seem happy enough in their temporary home, think about leaving them there until it gets cooler, before replanting in, say, March.
d. If replanting, be generous and persistent with both water and Seasol until winter sets in.
e. Don't fertilise until they show signs of new growth, and don't add any fertiliser to their planting holes, etc.

Good luck! (And let me know how you go, too).

Anonymous said...

Hi, just following on with the transplanting conversation..I have been offered six large murraya to transplant for free but am tossing up whether to just take one or two and strike cuttings from these, or to take the whole lot and transplant.

I also live in the Illawarra, so would have the same issues as Mary with transplanting.



Jamie said...

Hi there Anonymous!

The general rule with transplanting shrubs and trees is that the smaller and younger they are, the better. Big ones often simply die, and need a lot more nursing; smaller ones usually settle in better.

Your idea of taking cuttings would probably work, but take lots of cuttings to make sure you get six really healthy baby plants in six months' time. It's the slow road, though.

How large is large, by the way? 1m tall, 2m, 3m? If they were 1m tall, I'd take all of them and plant them in a row and they'll probably thrive. If they are 3m whoppers, I'd feel less confident about it.

As we're talking Murrayas in the greater Sydney area, they'd probably survive napalm attack, let alone transplanting though, so why don't you take on the biggies, care for them really really well with lots of watering and monthly Seasol applications, cross your fingers and it'll probably all work out OK.

Anonymous said...


They are about 1.2 metres tall, and I am going to take all six once I have the ground ready for them to go straight in...but there was also a seventh tree about 3 metres tall, so I took a significant amount off that bush to make cuttings from - I guess six months will tell me either way which method was more successful!

If I end up with too many plants, will just re-donate via Gumtree or similar...not like the few dollars spent on coir and rooting hormone has broken the bank!

Thanks for your was just the encouragement I needed. Camilla.

Tarielle said...

I have just planted 4 murraya plants, spaced 1.5 metres apart. The plants are around 30-40cm high at the moment.
I am replacing a pitosporum hedge that was originally at the front of my property.
Can anyone tell me if I leave the murrayas to grow in their natural state, will they fill the space and create a hedge or will I need to religiously prune them for them to grow together?
I am happy if they grow to 3 metres tall and I won't be pruning them from the top.

Jamie said...


Your murrayas will fill those 1.5m gaps easily, if you live in a warm spot like Sydney. Where are you, though?

They'll grow to 3m tall, too.

Tarielle said...

Hi Jamie and thanks for the reply.
I'm down in Melbourne.

I was very much over the constant pruning of the pitosporums and just wanted something that will look nice, as a sort of hedge but without the pruning.

It's funny, when I look for pictures of the murraya on the internet, all I get is hedges. I would love to see what the murray looks like when left to grow on its own.

Tarielle said...

Perhaps you could also clear up another question I had regarding the murraya.

Are these plants fast or slow growing? I've heard conflicting reports on this.

I particularly waited until spring to put them in as the ground is now warming up and I want to give them the best start as possible.

Do they like to be fed at this time of year and already as young plants?

Jamie said...

Yep, they're very hedgey. They are bulletproof here in Sydney, and Melbourne winters are a fair bit colder.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that yours will grow a bit smaller, but filling a gap of 1.5m shouldn't be a problem. Left unpruned they grow into an even-sized blob, about 3m high and round, with leaves all the way down to the ground.

If yours are in a spot exposed to biting cold winter winds they may not thrive (they actually come from the tropics and subtropics) so hopefully they'll be a bit sheltered by nearby buildings, walls etc.

Give them some TLC to make up for the southern posting! Get them growing well now over their first summer in Melbourne. Apply Seasol to settle the roots in for the first three months (applied fortnightly), then feed with a slow-release product such as Osmocote general purpose granules. Repeat the Osmocote dose every spring. Good luck!

Jamie said...

Tarielle, just noticed your second posting.

My experience is that they grow a bit slowly at first, purely because they put their energy into growing new roots first up (which is why the Seasol is handy, it's great for roots, but isn't a plant fertiliser).

Being in Melbourne they might be slow off the mark, but I think you've done the right thing planting them now, in spring. They should be looking a lot better by next March.

Best wishes, Jamie.

Tarielle said...

I love the first picture of the murraya you have on your website (where the pot is standing in front of it).

Did you prune that one or leave it to grow on its own?

Tarielle said...

Thank you Jamie, your advice is very much appreciated!

Jamie said...

Tarielle; happy to help.

That Murraya in the first pic is constantly cut back. It's a healthy, happy monster, but its job is to fill that bad position right under an olive tree and it does it with verve.

Anonymous said...


I live in Beerwah, South East Qld, and have just bought the first 40 of many mock orange plants to do a boundary hedge on our acre block (260m).

We are wanting the hedge to be about 1.7m high and was wondering what sort of width we would need to make it? Obviously the least amount of real estate taken up the better, but don't want to sacrifice quality of the hedge and investment either.

Also I read that you should times the high of the hedge by .3 to get your plant spacing. Eg 1.7m x 0.3 would mean we would need a plant every 0.51m does that sound right? 520 plants???

We also have a future plan to grow a hedge castle cubby for our son. What are your thought on that?

Thanks heaps in advance


Jamie said...

Hi Mandy

You won't need that big number of plants (and think about striking plants from cuttings as a way of saving money, if that's part of the problem).

My murraya hedge plants are planted a bit over 1m apart. You could safely space them from 1 to 1.25m apart, as each plant will reach 3m wide over time. My front garden hedge is just 1.25m high while the rear one is 2m high, and both are the same width, about 2.5m, and both have plants spaced the same distance apart.

You can be in charge of the hedges' dimensions just by clipping them to the size you want. Remember, though, to start clipping them early so they grow dense as they grow. Whatever you do, don't wait until they are the desired size and then start clipping at that late stage. That will give you a not-very-dense, gappy hedge in the long run.

As for the cubby, that sounds like a big ambition for a beginner!

Jamie said...


One correction to my reply above. Both my murraya hedges are 1.25m wide (not 2.5!). Slip of the fingers on the keyboard!


trish said...

l want to plant some Marrayas
informal hedge,if l don't want to
keep it clipped will it be dense
don't want it to get woody.l live about 60k from Melbourne north.
height is not a problem.Regards Trish

Julian Archer said...

Hi, I live in a strata complex and we have a heap of Murraya hedges that are 2 or 3 metres tall. The complex is nearly 20 years old, so these hedges are probably 20 years old. When the developers first built the complex 20 years ago they left a whole heap of gaps in the hedges, so a couple of years ago we planted Murraya to fill these gaps. Two/three years on, the new plants are still very small and struggling to grow and thicken. What should we be doing to encourage growth in the small plants? Should we be pruning them regularly? Anything else? Thanks for your help

Julian Archer said...

I should add that the strata complex is in Sydney and the plants are very sheltered from the wind and in full sun

Jamie said...

Hi Julian

I suspect the reasons for the lack of growth are competition from the existing murrayas' extensive roots, which is tough competition for the babies to overcome. Now wonder growth has been slow so far. AND a lack of sunlight is their other problem. Try trimming back the edges of neighbouring murrayas to allow more sunlight onto the young 'uns. The more sun they get the better their chances.

As for promoting growth, there's a couple of things you can try. One is to apply Seasol (a liquid you mix up in a can) to encourage the roots to grow. Do this monthly for the next 6 months.

Applying fertiliser isn't a good thing to do… yet. Wait until you see some signs of growth in the tiddlers. Then, and only then, feed the plants. Remember that Seasol isn't strictly a fertiliser (it's a soil tonics), so applying some kind of fertiliser is necessary later on. Any old fertiliser you already have will do for murrayas in Sydney, but if you don't have any fertiliser at hand yet, you can choose from any of the liquid foods like Powerfeed, Charlie Carp or Nitrosol, etc. Apply this monthly, especially in spring and autumn. Or you could go for the general-purpose slow-release granules, such as Osmocote, which can be applied once a year.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi, the location of the Murraya I am seeking to plant is in an entirely shaded area with basically no sun. Ive received conflicting feedback as to whether it will survive. I need to block out a neighbours wall so really want a plant that will provide a screen but I am confused by the feedback which ranges from it will grow woody to it will grow well in the shade and provide appropriate coverage. I would appreciate any feedback.

Jamie said...

Hi Anonymous, I'm presuming you're in Sydney or somewhere even warmer.
In warm climates, murraya will grow in shade. It won't flower much (or at all) and it will grow more slowly than in the sunshine, but it will grow.
You could help it along by making sure the ground around it is weed-free, the plant is well watered, and well fed, especially during the warmer months of spring and summer.
I have a hedge of Murraya by my front porch, and these plants get no sunshine at all during winter.
And for a few years one of the plants now in that front porch hedge was in a pot on the porch, and it virtually never got any direct sunshine, year-round, yet it grew.

Abhishek said...

Hello All

I had been doing a lot of research and have finally settled with 'murraya paniculata' as our hedge. How far apart should I plant this to get a good hedge?


Abhishek said...

Further to my previous comment, I am based in Melbourne (West). Sand type is clay.

Jamie said...


As I have mentioned in previous answers above, I plant mine 1.25 metres apart.

Garry said...

Thank you very much for all the answers and information. I have a couple of questions myself. I'm in Brisbane and planted 7 Murrayas at the front of my townhouse to make into a 2 metre high privacy screen. I bought the small pot size ones, planted them 80cm apart (I read online that was recommended, now I see that's very close), planted early-mid Dec last year. I fertilise well & they're in well mulched soil.
Is now a good time give them their first prune? How harsh do I cut them back this first time to get them to thicken up?
At the start of the week I also planted another 4 to join up to make the hedge an 'L' shape, should I wait until September to give the new ones their first prune?
I'd love to hear your advice!

Jamie said...


You could start pruning now, if you want, as the plants will grow back very quickly at this time of year. And you can always cut up to 30% off most things without harming them, including murrayas.

Lesley said...

Can someone please tell me what the seeds are on my murraya. They are the size of a large avacado and pear shaped. Quite green. A pair of them hang from one short stem to the main branch. I had one last year and just cut it off. Last week I found these two, cut them off at the stem and laid them stem down in the garden bed. They've turned white on top and I'm kind of hoping they'll grow to cover an iron fence in full sun. Any chance? Lesley

Jamie said...

Lesley, the murraya doesn't produce seeds like you describe. I suspect what you are seeing is the fruits of a weedy vine which has climbed its way up and through your murraya. Have a closer look and I am sure you will seed the big fruits belong to a twining vine.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm from Pretoria, South Africa, and this plant seems to be exactly what I want except I can't figure out if it will work for our climate. This blog entry has been more informative than an hour of googling! So if you could provide me with some tips I'd be very grateful.

I have two spots in mind; one partly shaded in summer and almost full sun
in winter, the other is sunny summer & winter. Our temperatures seem to be comparible to Sydney, except a bit more extreme. Big difference is zero rain in winter, and summers can have hot weeks (35 C, not hotter than that) with no rain.

The main issues I can't quite get my head around, is size, pruning requirements, frost hardiness and drought resistance.

If left unpruned, will I still get the 3x3m nice round compact shape you mentioned above?

Then, will watering once per week in a hot summer spell be sufficient? What about winter, when days are just nice 20C but no rain at all? Because I really need to plant water-wise and don't want to water more than once per week as a general rule.

And frost hardiness? We do get frost every winter, at about 0C, and every few years we'll have a bad night or two where we drop to say -4C with the wind chill. The spots I have in mind are not protected. Will the murraya survive that?

Jamie said...

Hello, Pretoria!

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect murrayas will find it hard to get through those frosty nights, and they also won't like the dry times, either. Sydney is a mild climate in that it gets virtually no frosts in all but our most inland suburbs. And we get steady rain for all 12 months of the year (on average, of course), with total annual rainfall around 48inches (1200mm), which is quite a lot, and which is why murrayas thrive here without any attention.

So I think that if your murrayas grew up to be big and strong enough to survive your wintry frosts, they'll need steady watering for a couple of years to get to that stage.

The spot you have in mind (summer shade and winter sub) does sound good. Would it also be sheltered from your coldest winds? However, I think it comes down to the plant's water needs. In Sydney sufficient rain just tumbles from the sky, but in Pretoria I think it would have to come from a hose, which is not what you want.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Hi jamie
I have a standard potted Murraya Paniculata. The leaves are starting to yellow. Can u please advise whether this may be overwatering or some other problem? The plant has been fertilised once since purchase in April.

Thanks Margaret G

Jamie said...

Hi Margaret. You've just opened a can of worms! Yellowing leaves could have several causes...

* Overwatering is top of the list, as you guess, but "too much water" might be more of a problem because water is not draining away through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Is the pot sitting on pot feet, or is it in a saucer which catches all the water, so it's effectively sitting in a puddle? The saucers of water make things much worse, so take the pot out of the saucer, or at least sit the pot up on pot feet, inside the saucer, so excess water can drain away.
* If you potted it up with fresh potting mix in April, the mix shouldn't be the problem, nor should a lack of fertiliser be a worry yet. Give it some slow-release fertiliser (eg Osmocote pellets) next spring.
* Really cold winds could be making this warmth-loving plant a bit miserable. How nice or nasty is its spot? Does it get any sunshine in winter?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie.
I'm putting in a murraya hedge around my front yard. but it's not all ready to go yet. If I plant some now and some in a few months will there be any difference when it comes to when they flower? Or will they all end up flowering at the same time eventually?

Jamie said...

Hi Chris
No, they'll all synchronise flowering quite soon. Remember, if you trim them as hedges they will flower a lot lot less. Also, flowering can happen more than once. Heavy periods of rain in the hot months can lead to more flowering a few weeks later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie, I love the Muraya & am thinking of planting some along the south Western side of our house. I have not been able to find any information on the root system of these shrubs and am hoping you can enlighten me as I do want to put them right in near the wall, we have a very old Queenslander on round timber stumps. I don't want to compromise the foundations.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie.My name is Anne and my murraya hedge runs along our colourbond fence and the branches grow against the colourbond. I use a cordless hedging tool but the tool hits the fence without pruning the growth so the back of the hedge has grown higher than what I want it. I squeezed in between the branches and pruned hard near the fence but it grows back too quickly. Do you have any suggestions?

robsmithslipstick said...

Hi Guys,
Am hoping this thread is still active... We have murrayas that are not even a metre tall yet - we went away for the week and have come back to find them covered in new growth and looking quite untidy. We would like to trim them but it is late January - should we hold off?


Jamie said...

You can hack away at murrayas at any time (well, if you're in a climate as mild as Sydney's, you can). The general rule with cutting back most plants in this climate is that you can cut off one-third and you won't kill them.

Peter Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
melbourne_mum said...

Hi Jamie,
I've been reading reports that people are spacing Murrayas as close as 30cm for a 1m hedge! This seems so close! I would like a 1.2m hedge so was thinking 60cm. Do you think that would be ok? Thanks

Priyanka Sailu said...

When i was searching for a fragrant plant that thrive in indoors i came upon this plant. I want a plant to be placed in my balcony which is bright but has NO direct sunlight. I am living in south of india. Do you think this plant will be good for my balcony?

Jamie said...

Hi Priyanka

Yes, I think it should grow there quite well, as I once had one in a pot on a balcony that received no sunlight and it grew well.

However, your main problem will be that it won't flower as well without sunshine, and so it might also not be very fragrant, as it's the flowers, not the foliage, which provide the fragrance.

Priyanka Sailu said...

Thanks for ur reply. It was very helpful!.. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie Love you Blog, Regards Marraya Pin.. I have used and agree its a great plant in Sydney. I am trying to encourage my Daughter to plant for a 2.5 to 3 m high hedge for privacy in a smallish courtyard. Unfortunately her partner suffers from hay fever. If they were to trim it regularly will this reduce its number of flowers and perfume ?. Thanks for your assistance.

Jamie said...


Yes, if you keep a murraya trimmed in the same way you trim a hedge, for example, it'll produce very few flowers (as my murraya hedges don't flower much) but be warned, in Sydney that means something like five or six trimmings a year. They do grow a lot, and so that's a lot of work most people aren't prepared to do.

On the other hand, murraya flowers might have a strong scent but I don't think they're a hay fever problem. Hay fever is more a function of super-fine, almost invisible pollens spread far and wide, such as from grasses and huge deciduous trees such as London panes, liquidambars etc. Your hay fever "problem" plants might be several houses away from your place, and there isn't much you can do about them, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

It's a weed

Anonymous said...

And highly allergenic.

Anonymous said...

And invasive roots

Jamie said...

Thanks for your contributions, Mr/Ms Anonymous.

As an asthma sufferer, I have never found murraya to be "highly allergenic", and as a gardener I haven't had a problem with its roots, despite having 7 murraya plants growing in 3 different locations in my garden. Do you have any links for the allergenic or root invasion claims?

As for it being a weed, any plant can be a weed in an environment which suits it. The list of garden plants which are labelled as "weeds" is very long indeed. Think of Italian lavender and agapanthus in southern Australia, Cootamundra wattles in the inland, curry trees in the subtropics ... the list of weeds is almost never ending, but that doesn't mean a weed in one zone is a weed in every zone.

The berry pictured on the DPI site photo of murraya is a very rare sight indeed in my garden. On the hedge-trimmed plants you just don't see them, ever. And on my other murraya which isn't trimmed so heavily, berries are also very rare, but occasionally seen, just a few in a year at best.

When I visited the Darwin botanic garden, they had a plant there labelled as Murraya paniculata, and it did have some berries on it, so I suspect that the closer to the tropics and subtropics you get, the more weedy murraya becomes. Here in Sydney, its lack of berries renders it nothing like the weed it probably is in hotter parts of Australia.

Jarka Horak said...

am not knowledgeable enough to post comment to previous posts; am seeking help:
thought of Murraya panniculata plant till I saw the pictures on yr page realizing not the right one for my needs; maybe you have a suggestion of a solution to my problem; in my quiet suburban street (in Melbourne) council approved 2 dwellings of 2 stories to be built next to each other on a standard block replacing a single storey house; dwelling neighbouring my property is impacting on my living in my house as their carport and garage along dividing fence are close (not even 1 m apart) to my study and bedroom; what can I plant along the dividing fence to reduce noise from cars leaving/coming in carport and garage? It should be something with shallow roots and not requiring trimming from the neighbouring side to avoid any dealings with the owners of the property.

Jamie said...

It's a myth that plants can block or deflect noise. Tests have been done inside gardens beside busy roads, and the plants were not very useful at all. The very tight confines you have for planting are also against anything growing well there. I think your solution lies in installing double-glazing to your affected windows. They are much better sound insulators than plants.

Best wishes

Jarka Horak said...

thanks for your comment.

Suzanne Tennent said...

When and how often do I need to fertilise my Murraya hedge? I plants 2 new gardens both with Murraya hedges the front garden faces west but due to the street having closely planted Morton Bay Figs the garden is pretty shaded and took 3yrs to really get going and even now they look quite thin.
The back garden faces east and get lots of sun and was quite thick but over the past 2yrs you can see through it and it constantly get Aphids on the leaves and brown spots on the trunks.
I have previously been giving it Dynamic Lifter once a year but it still is not looking as healthy as I'd like.

Marc B said...

How small can these plants to trimmed down too,would 1/2 metre high be achievable as I need a low hedge

Jamie said...

Hi Marc

No, keeping a murraya down to 50cm would be endless work, probably impossible to do. You'd be better off looking at one of the various types of box (Buxus), some of which don't get much bigger than 50cm. Visit a knowledgeable/good quality garden centre and ask them what would suit your climate. Searching online probably won't give you the specific information you need.

Marc B said...

I live in mid north coast are they any scented Buxus

Jamie said...

One of the Buxus species has a scent, but unfortunately it's said to be a bit like stale cat piss, so be careful what you ask for! You could ask at your nursery about Choisya ternate, which is Mexican orange blossom. It can reach over 1m tall though, but it is smaller than a murraya.

However, as a general piece of advice, trying to keep plants trimmed down to a very small size is usually a job most people give up on after the first year or so. It's a lot of work!

You'd be a lot better off finding just a good, naturally low-growing hedge plant recommended and stocked by a local nursery, and forget about bonus extras such as flowers or scents, etc. Most of the time with flowering hedges, the endless trimming cuts off all the flower buds anyway, and you end up with just a plain, green flowerless hedge.

Anonymous said...

Hi. We live in Brisbane and have a very tall murraya hedge between us and our neighbours. Its about 3 m high and we cant reach the top even on a ladder to trim it. Also we are higher than neighbour so definitely dont need it to be so high. When is the best time to do a hard prune? We have also found some patches which on closer inspection is stem borer. Will confidor tablets help that?

Unknown said...

We had Murray plant given to us,it was in the pot,and after we cone back from lengthy trip away I found it completely dry, leaves still on it but all dry. Is there anyway I can save it. My first thought was to trim down but I wasn't sure. Please help.

Dong Phung Van said...

Hi everyone,
I live in Sydney. I have a tall Murraya hedge in the backyard garden. Suddenly, I had two of them have been dry (leaves and trunk). I am so worried now. I may spread to others :-( I cut of some branch but the was no hole in the trunk, and worms in the root. Please help me to save them.
I do appreciate your help.

Jamie said...

Hi Dong.

Find some "Seasol Super Soil Wetter" at your garden centre or Bunnings, and water the plants well, following the instructions on the package. Then water the plant very well, daily, for the next few weeks. Good luck!


Dong Phung Van said...

Dear Jamie,
Thank you so much for your help. Last week, I used Yates Reduced Odour Dynamic Lifter to my plants. Is it similar to your suggestion.
All the best.

bigglesOz said...

Hi James... Your thoughts on Murraya root suppression. Like their citrus cousins the fibrous surface roots sap soil moisture like a sponge, much to the detriment of nearby plants. Bone dry here on the central coast and although I have put in barrier the roots still go down, under and then up into once protected garden beds. All comments welcome. Thanks. B

bigglesOz said...

Hi James... Your thoughts on Murraya root suppression. Like their citrus cousins the fibrous surface roots sap soil moisture like a sponge, much to the detriment of nearby plants. Bone dry here on the central coast and although I have put in barrier the roots still go down, under and then up into once protected garden beds. All comments welcome. Thanks. B

StevenHWicker said...

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Anonymous said...

I would really like to kill mine off. After a nasty shoulder injury that has given me a significant decrease in joint mobility I wont be able to prune regularly. Anyone know of a reasonably good chemical method of killing a hedge if these blighters off. Quotes for cutting to ground level and grinding are 500 upwards.

bigglesOz said...

Undiluted Roundup/Glyphosate generally kills all (except couch grass). Cut-off at ground-level one trunk at a time and immediately brush/spray with evil-Roundup. To be really thorough come back a day later and cut some grooves across stump and re-apply evil-Roundup. If new shoots start to appear they will be struggling and another dose of evil-Roundup can be applied OR simply break the shoots off and keep doing that until it shoots no more.