Trialling Banksia ‘Sentinel’

This is a favourite coastal hedging plant of mine which I have been including in my planting designs for the past 7 years or so….sorry, I’m finding it difficult to keep track of time ๐Ÿ˜‰

I say it is on trial or has been on trial for a while as it does have a couple of things it dislikes and doesn’t work everywhere. Firstly, it absolutely hates being over watered, especially if the weather is warm, it doesn’t need extra moisture. It is part Banksia integrifolia which as a straight species tree can often turn up its toes if its feet get wet.

Secondly, it gets taller than the label specifies, almost double the size to be frank. This is not that unusual all plant tags need to be read with some scepticism, I don’t know why?

In the image above you can see a specimen which is around 4 metres tall and around 1 to 1.5 metres wide, making Banksia ‘Sentinel’ a wonderful tall screening plant. It can handle a front line coastal position like in this featured garden in Coledale, it also will take light frost and extended periods of drought.

It is a very useful plant to use in a native garden to add texture and colour. The undersides of the leaves are a bright silver and the new growth bronze and then light green. The upright branches prune well and contrast beautifully with more weeping foliaged plants.

I like to combine Banksia ‘Sentinel’ with lime greens or brighter silvers like in the images above with Acacia ‘Mini Cog’ and Eremophila Nivea Grafted.

It also looks lovely with the mounding habit and larger leaves of Hymenosporum ‘Luscious’ as seen above.

For me I would say the trial period is over, this useful Banksia has excelled in the many gardens in which I have specified it. I am about to plant a hedge of it in my own garden in a tight position with limited sun and if I ignore it enough I’m sure it will fulfil its role as a dense screen in a wind tunnel near the sea ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

Two more things to note, Banksia ‘Sentinel’ is not a particularly floriferous native, it should be grown for its foliage and it needs excellent drainage!

6 thoughts on “Trialling Banksia ‘Sentinel’

  1. Rhiannon on

    Thank you for a fantastic blog, I am a first time gardener and am learning so much from it and your designs.

    I have been looking for the good part of a year for a good dense native screening plant that grows 3-4m tall – so I think Sentinel it is!

    I am looking to plant them behind an east facing fence on a busy road so would like them to grow quite fast. What kind of growth rate does the Sentinel have? (I havenโ€™t been able to find guidance on this on the web). The other option I was looking into was Hakea salicifolia as I understand they are fast growing – have you had experience with them at all?

  2. Stephen on

    I planted a row of banksia sentinel down the fence line on the shady southern side of the house in December 2019. Tricky site as it gets full sun in summer and no sun down low in winter. After seeing a banksia sentinel featured in the Mallee designs Bulli garden (and some free advice from Kath on the comments, thanks), I thought Sentinels might fit the bill. They tripled in size from 30cm to a metre in the first growing season. The upright multi branched habit will be perfect for screening our windows when they grow a bit more. I donโ€™t have excellent drainage and they still seem to be happy even with no sun in winter (I have never needed to water them). Iโ€™m really happy with this miniature coast banksia. The hardest thing is finding a nursery who stocks them. Thanks.

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Stephan,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Banksia ‘Sentinel’ your position sounds exactly the same as where I just planted my hedge. Hopefully they will grow as quickly as yours,

      Best Wishes,


  3. Cathryn Williams on

    Iโ€™ve just bought a banksia sentinel and plan to plant it near a wall as a screen. We do have water pipes running Along the fence nearby and wondering what the root system is like and whether itโ€™s ok to plant near pipes?
    Many thanks!

  4. Julie Burn on

    Hi Kath,
    I have about 7 of these. No flowers!!! But good sturdy hedge along a fence line and a few as feature trees. I would like a few more plants to produce nectar for birds. Should I swap a couple out for Banksia Spinulosa (although the small ones Candles and Cushions, did not like it here) what do you think? Many thanks, Julie

  5. Jo Northey on

    hello Kath,
    Am north of Hornsby close to Kuring-Gai Chase National Park and we’re creating a native garden – working on the backyard first. I was getting excited about planting a couple of these in the pool side 1 metre-wide bed I have on the western boundary for screening and to be a gorgeous backdrop to maybe some westringia clumps or lomandra longifolia in front or between… then I just saw your comment that they hate (and can die from) over-watering esp in warmer weather and while we will not be watering anything unless absolutely necessary our neighbour on that side has hedges and veggies planted all along the boundary and seems to water excessively to the point that water is running through the beds under our boundary fence and thankfully when we put in our little semi-inground kit pool the pool builder dug excellent deep drainage all around the pool which does work as her watering runs through and eventually makes it way into our storm water drainage system. We can hear and see it going through the drainage pit. Apart from water conservation concerns – which we have, she is paying for water usage I guess, though I am now worried that that any garden beds of ours on that boundary will be subject to higher levels of water/moisture so will impact what will grow happily there as our block is slightly lower than theirs. Apologies for the long story. However any suggestions for other tallish native bird and wildlife attracting shrubs we can plant for screening particularly in the pool area as we’d like a bit of privacy from the double story house there, though the garden bed is only 1 metre wide. There is a fabulous large mature macadamia just at the north corner of the bed providing gorgeous shade for some of the pool area with a Qld Firewheel Tree beside it (original owners planted I think). The rest of western boundary beside the house has a raised narrow 700mm wide bed and thinking through ideas for some kind of tallish narrow wavy growth – considered Allocasuarina distyla – not sure if they can be trimmed back to keep narrow or not? It is all a work in progress however any feedback about whether it is worth planting Banksia integrifolia Sentinal… could I put something in the bed to absorb moisture or ask nicely for the neifghbours to reduce their watering or od I just re-consider and plant something that might appreciate the water? Btw absolutely love the website and designs here ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks Jo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *