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Pachystegia insignis

August 8, 2022
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Pachystegia insignis

Pachystegia insignis in John's North Wales garden

Pachystegia insignis (syn. Olearia insignis)

Pachystegia insignis is a rarely seen or grown dwarf shrub. Its common name in New Zealand, to which it is endemic and restricted to Marlborough county, is Marlborough Daisy. In nature Pachystegia insignis inhabits rocky cliffs and coastal niches in the Kaikoura ranges. It is local rather than rare and is not considered to be threatened.

The plant forms a rounded evergreen bush which is unlikely to exceed one metre in height or spread in the garden. The shoots are stout and fuzzy white and very wind resistant, as are the leathery leaves. These are glossy dark green above, white felted below. The upward-facing daisy flowers are borne singly on stiff, furry stems which hold them above the foliage. This is an excellent feature in the garden.

Pachystegia insignis, close-up of underside of foliage and of stems

Pachystegia insignis, close-up of underside of foliage and of stems


Pachystegia insignis is a very easy shrub to cultivate given a sunny position and free-draining soil. The plant illustrated here has been growing largely unattended for > 25 years and shows no sign of decline. It is watered occasionally with a liquid seaweed feed in the early part of the year. Once the flowers are over and the ornamental seedheads have released their fluffy seed, the plant is clipped over. Some years a few of the seeds are viable as indicated by the fact that they are fuller and harder than the rest. I usually send these to the Society seed exchange.

A 25 year-old Pachystegia in John's garden. Credit Razvan Chisu

A 25 year-old Pachystegia in John Good's garden. Credit Razvan Chisu

Propagation of Pachystegia insignis

If viable seed is set it is best sown immediately on the surface of a free draining seed compost. Cover with a thin layer of gravel, water and place in a shady place. If germination does not occur by the following spring it will not do so at all.

Cuttings of non-flowering shoots may be taken anytime during the growing season but late July is probably about right in the UK. Trim the cuttings and place them round the edge of a pot. Water thoroughly and cover the pot either with an individual cover or by placing it in a shaded frame. Cuttings will usually either root by the autumn or not at all, in my experience 10-20% success is the norm. If the rooted cuttings can be kept growing through the winter it is best to pot them up individually, if not I leave them until the following spring.

Pachystegia insignis in bloom

Pachystegia insignis in bloom

Author: John Good

John Good