Banksia coccinea, the Scarlet Banksia, is a species which occurs in Woodland on deep sand along the South coast of Western Australia. This species is generally a shrub to about 6-8 feet tall, but can grow taller. It is also in common use for cut flowers.
Banksia coccinea is a very desirable evergreen garden plant because of its dramatic habit and spectacular flowers. The conspicuous spike-like flowers are fairly squat in comparison with other Banksias and bright orange-red in colour. They are seen in late Winter through to early Summer. The leaves are broad, tough, dark green, with toothed margins.
In cultivation, pruning is necessary to remove shoots that will not flower and to encourage development of shoots with sufficient diameter to initiate the inflorescence. Fruits are so well protected by a hard shell that only the intense heat of a wildfire can crack open the seed pods, freeing the next generation of scarlet Banksia.
Hardiness zones 9-11, (-5°C/25°F,4°C/40°F) in Winter. Grow in sun to partial shade. They are adapted to soils of low fertility, but benefit from a supply of calcium and application of nitrogen, potassium and iron. Like other Proteaceae Banksias tend to be intolerant to high levels of phosphorus which interfere with iron uptake. Best growing conditions are light sandy-gravelly, deep, acid, well-drained soil in an open position. It will succumb to root rot fungi in wet Summers if not perfectly drained. It is extremely drought resistant once established, but will not tolerate frosts or high humidity.