Waxflower are woody evergreen shrubs that grow 0.5–3.0 metres tall. The leaves are tiny to medium sized, and contain oil glands that often give off a pleasant aroma when crushed. The distinguishing feature of waxflower is its large masses of small flowers. The petals have a waxy feel, which gives rise to the plant’s name. The flowers range in size from 9-26mm in diameter, and in colour from white to mauve or maroon.
Waxflower have been used as a cut flower since the 1940s, and through the 2010s, waxflower were Australia’s most significant commercial native cut flower and leading export cut flower—in terms of volume, they were in the top 20 flowers sold in Europe. Waxflower are one of the most widely used cut flowers because of their hardiness and longevity, the typical vase life is 18-20 days. The stems are very versatile in floral arrangements and newer cultivars are used as flowers in their own right.
Growers entering the cut flower industry are encouraged to do extensive research on the inherent risks and challenges throughout the value chain.
The wildflower industry, including waxflower producers, is considered a mature industry in Australia. It has an active research and development (R&D) program that assists industry members develop better production techniques, works towards industry-wide standards and identifies marketing opportunities. The wildflower industry is represented by WildFlowers Australia, which represents a diverse range of industry participants, including growers, buyers, wholesalers, exporters and importers, and research and extension specialists.
Facts and figures
- In the 2010s, waxflower were the most significant commercial native cut flower and Australia’s leading export cut flower due to its hardiness and longevity
- The most commonly used waxflower for cut flowers is Geraldton wax
- Pearlflower is a newer waxflower hybrid gaining in popularity
- The availability of efficient and economic refrigerated transport to market or export airports is an important consideration for commercial production
- Waxflower are very susceptible to ethylene following harvest and should be managed accordingly
The Australian wildflower industry (including but not solely waxflower) is located mainly in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and south east Queensland. Western Australia accounts for the largest proportion of the export wildflower market from Australia.
There are no industry statistics about growers or production information at an enterprise level for waxflower.