This form of pohutukawa is grown more for its attractive, green and gold foliage than for its scarlet flowers. It won’t grow where there are heavy frosts, but in coastal gardens it’s a godsend because of its ability to keep on growing when the conditions aren’t always ideal. Wind and drought, poor soils and neglect don’t worry this tough customer, but it must have well drained soils and sunshine for half the day at least.
It makes a great background tree for shelter and privacy and if you like colourful foliage can also be used to form a striking hedge, either clipped in wall like fashion or kept lightly trimmed to make a rounded background row.
Metrosideros kermadecensis ‘Variegata’ is also good for contrast among large leafed, deep green native shrubs and trees such as Griselinia littoralis and the big, bold puka, Meryta sinclairii, both able to stand up to a lot of coastal wind and drought. Where there’s good soil and shelter from sea winds, colourful flowering shrubs such as Tibouchina ‘Grandiflora’ and those with bright foliage such as Melicope ‘Spreading Sunshine’ or dramatic green foliage such as the black stemmed tree fern, Cyathea medullaris, can be planted with this versatile pohutukawa for a bit of razzle dazzle.
Metrosideros kermadecensis ‘Variegata’ can also be grown in large containers for some years, its drought tolerance making it easy to maintain in such situations. Big specimens in half wine barrels can look most effective.