Quick Screen & Habitat: Hakea salicifolia

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This is the Willow Leafed Hakea or Hakea salicifolia, friend to Hakea sericea, the reason I think they are friends is that they have a lot in common, plus they were growing so happily together when I took these photos 😉 as you can see in the image below.

Hakea salicifolia is a fast growing large shrub reaching between 4-5 metres high and 3-4 metres wide. It has a large tough leaf and flowers profusely in winter and spring attracting bees and many small birds.

The dense habit provides excellent protective cover for small birds and the flowers offer food sources for birds of all sizes.

Hakea salicifolia is a very quick grower and therefore makes a useful screening plant, an annual prune will ensure it remains thick and bushy and doesn’t get too tall. It prefers an open open, well drained sunny location in an area with moderate rainfall, it is also frost tolerant. So if you are looking for a hedge or back ground screening plant that will also provides for the wildlife why not give it a try?


48 responses to “Quick Screen & Habitat: Hakea salicifolia”

  1. Glenn King – Coonabarabran NSW

    Beautiful Shrubbery screen plants….easy to grow, hardy survivors in challenging climates in the Central West….Ours have been with us 18 years.
    Can you give an indication of their longevity please?

  2. Kath Gadd

    Hi Glenn,

    If yours are 18 years old you are doing really well, do you regularly prune them?
    If they are looked after with fertiliser, regular pruning and watering they shouldn’t be as susceptible to pests like borers which are often the culprits for killing quick growing native plants.
    I would say 20 years would be a pretty good innings 😉

    Best Wishes,


  3. gaetane zufferey

    What spacing should they planted at for a hedge please?

    1. Kath Gadd


      I would space them between 1.5 and 2 metres apart for a thick screen,

      Best Wishes,


      1. Claire

        Hi Kath – How fast will these grow? I’ve about to plant mature 2m tall plants and am hoping they’ll grow pretty quickly to block out our neighbour’s house. Any suggestions when planting them? I’m a novice (to say the least).

        1. Kath Gadd

          Hi Claire,

          Hakeas should grow about a metre a year, especially in full sun with well drained soil and regular watering. I would keep them tip pruned to encourage a nice dense habit.
          Good luck!


      2. Karen Heatley

        When is the best time to plant them?
        How far from my rural fence should I plant them?
        Thanks Karen

        1. Kath Gadd

          Hi Karen,

          The best time to plant them would be late Winter or Spring, depending when you think you have the kindest weather 😉
          If you have lots of room in your garden I would position them 2-3 metres from the fence and the same distance apart.

          Happy Gardening,

          Best Wishes,


  4. Emily Wilson

    Hi we have just planted a hedge with tube stock and I was wondering how I should prune them?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Emily,

      If you have put them in quite small, an all round tip prune twice a year should give you a lovely dense green,

      Best Wishes,


  5. Gaetane Zufferey

    Could you please advise what fertiliser to use on my hakea salicifolia hedge. I planted tube stock and they have been in the ground maybe 2 years and have gone rather yellow. They are also not thriving. We have soil that is a bit clayey but made a mound and planted them on top. I tried a slow release native fertiliser which seems to have made no difference. Our soils ph is slightly alkaline. It’s in part shade. thanks for your advise. I have some neutron rapid raiser, could I use that? Regards, Gaetane

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Gaetane,

      Sometimes the yellowing of the leaves can signify too much water? is that a possibility? if its not that then try giving it some iron, it could be an iron deficiency if you have found the native fertiliser to be unsuccessful,

      Good luck!


  6. I have had my willow leaf Hakea in for two and a half years, they were tube stock and are now 2 metres tall and doing well except I have had no flowers, just wondering why . Thank you

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Liliana,

      Sometimes Hakeas take a while to mature enough to flower, it may take 4 or 5 years before you get a decent flower flush. If you wanted to try to encourage it, you could give it some potash and make sure you are not giving it too much nitrogen, this will just make the plant put on new leaf rather than flower.

      Good Luck,


  7. Peter VALENTINE

    Growing the willow leaf hakea in Woodside and Balhannah South Australia, I have found that the white or cream tailed black cockatoo loves the seed pod. They found a young three foot tall young plant buried in a thick garden in a small back yard in Balhannah as soon as it had seeds. 6 blackies hanging on a 3 foot stick is a sight to see. I have moved to Lameroo in the Murray Mallee now. I miss the blackies.!!

    1. Kath Gadd

      Oh Yes,

      I would plant anything to attract Black Cockatoos, such majestic birds!
      It seems the harder the seeds to open the more attractive to them,



      1. Jo Corinna

        Hi Kath,
        We absolutely love black cockatoo s. We’re north of Hornsby, Sydney near Kuring-Gai Chase National Park and love seeing large flocks of yellow tailed ones so gracefully flying by, or gathering to chat in the tall gums of some of our neighbours in the street. We’re still planting our native garden and considering Hakea salicifolia for a section of screening and would love other ideas for what might attract black cockatoos as well as other birds.. mostly so far we’ve had Noisy minors, some magpies, lorikeets, king parrots, occasional kookaburras, and just recently a butcher bird. Love these blog posts, so many great ideas, thanks, JC

        1. Kath Gadd

          Hi Jo,

          The Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos love Casaurinas, Banksias and Hakeas, which are all native food plants for them. You now see Yellow-tails feeding on exotic pine cones because of habitat clearing, the more natives we can bring back for them the better!

          All the best,

  8. Dave Lascelles

    Regarding age of Hakea salicifolia’ I have 7 now growing as trees in my backyard in Canberra that are well over 30 years old and no signs of dieing yet, although 2 other trees died in the last 3 years.
    I write this because there is very little information in the literature about the age of Hakeas.

  9. Jane Rich

    You mention pruning, mine has sprawled somewhat. What are the best seasons for this and should I even consider moving it to a more spacious setting?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jane,

      The best time for pruning is after flowering, just a 20% all over prune should encourage enough new growth to thicken its habit.

      Happy gardening,


  10. Christine

    Our Salicifolia is about a metre tall now and is one main trunk without any shrubbing. Will it be ok to prune it back fairly hard, so it will become more shrub-like? It is not coping in the wind and without staking is leaning almost horizontally. Otherwise it is healthy.
    Advice would be much apprecited here, still learning!

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Christine,

      Yes, you should be able to prune your Hakea back so it becomes more wind tolerant and thickens up to create a more dense screen. I would recommend a 20% all over prune.

      Happy gardening,


  11. Trish Kelly

    I’ve 40 Hakea Salicifolia been in 7 years at least 4m high and bushy.in 7 years at least 10 have died,were healthy and lush within two days they die.now another one is looking sick leaves in middle are yellow tips are still green.l gave it a dose of season
    doesn’t seem to have made any difference.you mentioned iron would that week.hope l can save it
    Cheers Trish

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Trish,

      Did your Hakeas die after a period of extended rain and humidity?
      They also are pretty short lived, as they get older they can become weak and prone to attack from pests and fungal disease.
      As they belong to the Proteaceae Family they can become deficient in Iron so a does of Iron Chelates or Sulphates is a good idea.

      Best Wishes,


      1. Shelley

        I have planted over 500 finger hakeas as a hedging border around my property. Some are over 4 years old and around 2 to 3m in height. Some have started dying and others look like they have black spots over them and it’s spreading. They have also have no new green growth or leaves in the bottom halves of each hedge. What can I do to protect them? You mention that they only last 7 years?

        1. Kath Gadd

          Hi Shelley,

          Black spots could be a fungal disease (e.g. sooty mould), are they in shade or have you had humid conditions or lots of rain recently? You could send me some photos to confirm.
          Most Hakeas would last longer than 4 years (maybe up to 10 as a ballpark average) but I haven’t been able to find any exact figures fir Hakea dactyloides.


  12. Belinda Foley

    Hi Kath,
    After reading your article about Hakea salicifolia, l am interested in using them as a paddock hedge. I am just curious if they are fire resistant or not?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Belinda,

      I know that some Hakea species are hard to burn. The Vic Plants Society lists H. salicifolia as a fire resistant species on the following webpage https://apsvic.org.au/fire-resistant-and-retardant-plants/ and their plant list is supposed to represent species that have shown some protection to various properties during fire. You could try contacting them if you wanted more specific info.

      Best of luck,

    2. Chris

      Hi, I have a friend down Wyndam where fires went through in 2019/2020 And he said houses that had hakea salicifolia around them didn’t burn. The fireside of the plant got a little scorched but have since recovered.
      I am about to build a fire/ thermal barrier around or house and shed in Cooma

      1. Kath Gadd

        Hi There,

        Wow! thanks for letting me know! I have seen Hakea salicifolia in lots of Fire Retarding plant lists but am never sure how any of these plants really cope in real life bushfire scenarios, that’s great real life info.
        Thanks again,
        Best Wishes,


  13. Lea-Ann Ledden

    Would these be okay to plant 2m away from a dam, are their root system invasive? Love the photo’s by the way, amazing looking trees.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Lea-Ann,

      I probably would plant H. salicifolia that close to your dam. Perhaps there’s somewhere else in your garden they could fit?!

      All the best,

      1. lili

        Hi Kath,
        Can you write a bit more about the root systems of hakea salicifolia? We have 3 planted along our front fence as a screen and wanting to plant 1 more on the other side of the entrance footpath for more privacy. The issue is that it would be planted close to gas and drain pipes, but we’re also only keeping them around 2m high. Would the roots be too invasive ? Thanks!

        1. Kath Gadd

          Hi Lili,

          If you’ve had three established that haven’t affected your pipes that should be find as long as you don’t have the older-style teracotta pipes which are more fragile and subject to root invasion damage.

          All the best,

  14. Sue Upton

    I have a mainly grevillea garden on the far North Coast of NSW. My neighbour has recently cut down trees next to our fence and the soil is fairly root bound on my side. I am thinking of putting a 300MM l mound next to the fence and planting hakea salicifolias as I am keen to restore privacy. The area gets about half a day of sun. Do you think that these hakeas would be a good choice? I would be very grateful for any advice.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Sue,

      What a shame it is to have your privacy taken away so suddenly! I have experienced a similar thing with my neighbours before. I think H. salicifolia is a good choice to get a screen back up quickly, they will still grow vigorously in part shade. I’m not sure how the root-bound soil might affect them but they tend to be happy in most soil types. If the roots are from the neighbour’s trees that have been cut down then they should break down over time and be good for the soil health in the long term.

      Good luck with your gardening,
      🙂 Kath

  15. Sue Upton


    Thank you so much for your advice. I very much appreciate it as I have been agonising between H. salicifolia and Lilly Pilly Resilience. I will go with the Hakeas now as I think that they are more interesting and I am encouraged that they grow quickly and that they are happy in part shade. . It certainly was a shock to suddenly see a two story house instead of trees. Thanks again. Sue

  16. Molly O’Neill

    Hello Kath, do you know where I would be able to purchase more mature Hakea?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Molly,

      As mentioned in the post H. salicifolia is very fast growing so it’s okay to purchase young plants. They should grow about a metre a year, especially in full sun with well drained soil and regular watering.

      Sydney wildflower nursery in Heathcote, NSW should have stock https://www.sydneywildflowernursery.com.au/

      Best wishes,

  17. Denise

    Recently moved to Mornington peninsula and have 10 big 4m hakea salicifolios that are flowering beautifully but spindly and “out of control”. Is it possible to hard prune (whole branches 10-15cm diameter). Will there be regrowth and thicken up again?
    Thank yoy

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Denise,

      Yes, they will tolerate a hard prune. Best to do it after they’ve flowered.

      Best wishes,

    2. Scott

      Hi there,
      I have a hakea salicifolia it’s about 1.5 years old, about 2.2 metres high and has turns brown within 1 week. When I scratch the trunk it’s still green inside. Do you think a hard prune could save it?
      I live in Brisbane so it’s hot and wet at the moment.

      Many thanks,

  18. Maureen

    In January 2017 I had two Hakea salicifolia seeds come up, in due time I put them into pots and tended them until I could put them into the ground in March 2018. I was constantly amazed at the rate of growth. They are both from the one nut, but one wants to be a tree and the other seems more shrubby. The tall one is almost twice the height of the 2m fence. I really hoped to see some flowers this year, but it wasn’t to be. I see from one of your earlier posts, that I could wait five years for flowers, and as it will be 5 years old in January, I should see some flowers next spring.
    I’m on the southern Gold Coast and there aren’t many native plants in the gardens around here. I hope my hakeas flower soon to show the locals how much more interesting they are.

  19. Mark

    I’ve planted a hedge of around 40 in freeburg vic, it’s hot in summer and below 5 in winter anything coastal dies quickly.
    They are around 4 meters high and in autumn the major Mitchell cockatoos feast on the seed pods
    a sight to see but noisy.
    The flowers are not notable in this area.

  20. Vimala

    wondering if it’s too risky to transplant a young willow hakea?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Vimala, Depends how young it is, if it has been in the ground for less than 3 months it might be possible, however most natives dont like to be moved or transplanted, especially if they are a quick growing species. Hakea’s do fall into this category. If you do go ahead with it let us know how you go.

  21. Sarah Cameron

    Hi Kath
    I am planting a willow leafed hakea with the intention of developing it into a canopy tree that provides coverage for the plants under it. What advice can you give me to encourage this? I also would prefer a less bushy tree. Is this possible? The soil it is going into is clay so I’m preparing a big hole with clay breaker. I hope it adapts!
    Thanks in advance

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