Extremely fast growing screen: Homalanthus populifolius

You have to love a species that can pop up by itself, grow a couple of metres in a year and will do so in full shade. Well I do anyway, although it may appear uninvited in your garden (it is easy to pull out) I have had the experience of it growing in just the right place to screen out my neighbours two-storey house. I was amazed at how quickly their roof line disappeared behind the thick luscious canopy of Homalanthus populifolius, until it was poised by the neighbours 🙁



The leaves are almost heart shaped and turn red as they mature, giving it its common name of bleeding heart, the stems are also bright red. It can be found in the Eucalypt forests of the Illawarra and north of Sydney, often appearing in urban gardens and disused land because of dispersal of the seeds by birds.



In the image above you can see a mature specimen used as a feature tree in a front garden, they are technically a small tree usually only growing to 3 or 4 metres but in good situations can reach up to 8 metres.



They have a lovely habit with a single main trunk and a bushy crown of large leaves, they make a good shade tree for a small garden or excellent privacy screen for above fence height.



There are usually a greater number of the red leaves in winter which give the crown a nice highlight in the drab colder months. This is a wonderful species for quickly establishing new gardens, they can also be pruned to shape if need be.
So if you find one poking its head up in your garden think twice about where it has positioned itself as it may be in just the right place.

5 thoughts on “Extremely fast growing screen: Homalanthus populifolius

  1. Love your article, hope you are right about native. I have probably half dozen “popping” up just like you said AND a couple are in the RIGHT spot. Thanks

  2. Raina on

    I have just planted a H.populifolius along my back fence . I am hoping to prune it to keep it shrubby and bushy — with foliage down to the ground — while still allowing it to reach above the fence to screen our yard from the neighbour. (And although I’ve learned to be patient with my garden, it’s always great to have some fast-growing plants for quick reward.)

  3. Cynthia House on

    I am wondering about the correct way to prune my young tree. It’s about 18 months old and about the same height but looking gangly. It has two main trunks leading of the central one. Any advise ?

  4. Lida on

    I have one that has poppped up over a year ago on the side of my carport. It’s too close to the neighbours fence and carport.

    How deep is the root system would like to move it. It’s currently over 2m tall and has a lovely shape although slight lean.

    By the way I live in the western suburbs of South Australia so interesting to hear whether or not the SA weather can sustain it.

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Lida,

      I’m not sure how easily they can be transplanted once they have become that tall, could you prune it to compensate for the lean?
      It would be good to know if it enjoys your Mediterranean climate ?

      Best Wishes,


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