Monday, May 2, 2011

Acacia 'Cousin It'

I’m afraid I’ve become slightly obsessed by a plant I’ve never even seen. Never seen in person that is, I’ve seen several pictures. For the first time on the wonderful blog Piece of Eden (above and below). Then just a few days later this same plant shows up on the Martha Stewart Garden Blog when Tony Bielaczyc visited the Ball Horticulture Pack Trials. Here is the picture from Martha’s blog… Isn’t it hot!? Kind of like a Restio crossed with Hakonechloa. Here’s what MSGB had to say about it: “This is Acacia 'Cousin It'. The name is nearly as charming as the plant itself. It's a slow grower and perfect for containers, which is what Ball is working toward with many of their woodies, adapting them as container plants.”

Next I went to the San Marcos Growers website to learn more. Here are a couple of their pictures… And what they have to say: “Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (Little River Wattle) - A low growing mounding form of the River Wattle, Acacia cognata, with tight growth to 2 to 3 feet tall by 3 to 6 feet wide with light green, sometimes red tinged, new growth that matures to a rich emerald green. This plant has not been noted in bloom but likely would have the very pale yellow flowers of the species. Plant in full sun to part shade in a well drained soil. Once established it will require only occasional irrigation. The literature lists it hardy to 15°F but we feel that the tips likely will freeze at 20-25° F as with the species but this likely will not be as damaging as it is to the tree form and serve as a light pruning on this shrub form. This plant was first released in Australia as Acacia cognata 'Mini Cog' but is making its debut in the US under the marketing name Cousin Itt by Ball Ornamental Plants” And going to the Ball Ornamental Plants site I learned this:

Scientific Name: Acacia cognata 'Mini Cog'
Common Name: Cousin Itt Acacia
Hardiness Degree: 15°F (-9.4°C)
Plant Habit: Spreading, Mounded
Spacing: 18 - 36" (46 - 91cm)
Height: 36" (91cm)
Width: 36" (91cm)
Exposure: Sun
Grower Information: A Ball Ornamentals Exclusive.
A Low-Water Needs Variety.
Evergreen shrub with compact, mounded, spreading habit and green, weeping foliage. Low water requirements make it great for dry Mediterranean landscapes or as a container plant for colder, wetter climates. It also features a high tolerance of heat in the southern United States. No flowers have been observed. Perfect for foundation plantings or large/mixed containers.

Naturally I’ve fallen for a plant that isn’t hardy here in Portland. But yet I imagine a thick border along the front of the house, choking out the Bishops Weed and looking fabulous!


  1. Those are lovely...especially the large swathe of them...remind me quite a bit (texture-wise) of Amsonia...except, of course, that's not evergreen.

  2. If I find it, it's coming home!

    1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2014

      Gardeners Choice in Tigard on 99

  3. My guess is that these will be expensive the first few years...but wow, what a great plant!

  4. Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' is a cute plant, the first time I saw it at work, I was shocked that it was an Acacia. Matti

  5. < Naturally I’ve fallen for a plant that isn’t hardy here in Portland. But yet I imagine a thick border along the front of the house, choking out the Bishops Weed and looking fabulous!

    As if that's ever stopped me from purchasing a plant. Especially a way cool plant like this!

  6. The foliage is glossy as well as draping. A very beautiful plant.
    Hakonechloa macra might be a fair if shorter and deciduous substitute in colder climates.

    Great post!

  7. Yeah, this is a stunner for sure. It looks like it would be soft to the touch and probably has a fragrance too. Another contender for your basement or greenhouse during the winter. :)

  8. Bring that scary plant on! I'm ready to experiment. I will certainly be on the lookout.

  9. I like how soft it looks--a great foil for pointier other plants. I wonder if it's as soft to the hand as it appears. Lots of soft-looking plants end up feeling like a mud-caked orangutan.

  10. scott, the evergreen part is a definite plus! (if you can get over the not hardy here part).

    Denise, price is no object?

    ricki, I think you are correct.

    Matti, have I mentioned how lucky you are? You know, to work THERE.

    Van, exactly.

    Thanks Hoover, I hope you'll keep us updated on how your plants are doing!

    Grace, well you've got me figured out that's for sure.

    compost, so will it be hardy for you?

    James, I am curious just how many a mud-caked orangutans you've touched?

  11. Looks like another candidate for the danger (potted) garden. You are on an increased acacia trajectory lately, I see. It's a soft, drapey one this time!

  12. Great plant I saw it at the nursery. I wonder if it will grow in a desert climate?

    1. Ozzie LandscaperFebruary 09, 2012

      should grow in desert climate, like most acacias they like poor soils and plenty of sun. They will need some TLC at first because the nurseries spoil young plants with too much water. You should be able to wein them off the water dependency in 4 - 8 weeks. good luck

  13. I've been dreaming of this plant ever since I first stumbled upon a photo of Acacia cognata 'Limelight'! I love the weeping habit and that it is evergreen. The photo was on an Australian's blog and they were using the plant in street median plantings- I've been waiting for years to find this plant in the states. I'm going to start using Cousin ITT in my designs!

    Kate Wiseman
    Sage Outdoor Designs

  14. Ah - should have know that you would have a post on this plant! I'm so bummed... I guess I was overwhelmed, and in the excitement of taking it all in, I forgot to buy it when I had the chance. Oh well... You know, it would look fantastic paired with that red-leaved wonder I also didn't buy. DAMN!

  15. Bought two at a nursery near here..nursery is in Loomis, CA, High Hand Nursery. They have survived our cold spell last few weeks (got down to about 22) but do seem to have a little yellowing of the leaves.

  16. AnonymousMay 07, 2014

    This plant is marketed at Acacia Limelight and Fettucine here in Australia. Casuarina Glauca is marketed at 'Cousin Itt'. We have three 1.5m standards of the Casuarina Glaca and have a hedge of Limelights in raised beds..all beautiful plants

  17. I have 2 growing in Tasmania and the frost here cutts it right back but does not kill the plant and after a good trim it takes off again and looks beautiful. Just bought 2 more today and will grow these in pots so I can move them out of the frost. Trial and error.

  18. Are these plants deer resistant?

  19. I never saw this plant until just recently at my neighbors house. It is beautiful, soft and very unique. I called several nurseries looking for it and finally found a place that sells them. Very hard to find and pricey. I bought 6 of them and love them. :)

  20. AnonymousMay 17, 2015

    I have had mine for about 6 months in a pot at the froun of the house, by the front door. Have watered 3 times, and in shade in the winter and sun late summer and soo far it is wonderful! Everone who comes to the door, touches it - as they think it might be plastic - I am in love with this plant - Roseville Ca

  21. AnonymousJuly 24, 2015

    I have had them for a year in a raised planter bed in full sun. They are beautiful and doing well except for one. The foliage is very thin and falling off. I can't find out why. Does anyone know?

    1. I am having the same problem with my only plant. I had it in a pot outside (I live in Port Townsend where we had a hot, dry summer), and dithered between giving it enough water and too much. It started losing its foliage by the end of the summer, except for one branch. Weird. Now it's naked looking. I brought it inside the house, but am not sure if that's good for it either. I've given it some bat guano and I don't water it until it feels sort of dry, so fingers crossed!

  22. I also have one in a pot by the front door for about a year - It did well at first now it is getting thin and falling off also - I do water, but not very much in shade in the morning and sun afternoon? Any one know why???

  23. I ran a big garden in Australia, and loved these plants.
    They are not really soft to the touch, but they look soft and feathery, great, and the 'cute' name is after the character "Cousin It" from the Adams family TV series, who had hair growing to the ground, covering his face, and sunglasses over the hair where the eyes would be.
    I saw a mature clump of these in native Australian gardens, in very poor nutrient and water environment, cascading densely over many, many square feet of hill, forming a lovely, otherworldly, bizarre 'terraforming' of their own, like some sort of lovely spreading alien, so so characterful it made me laugh.
    The 'limelight' varietal is pretty, and has a fresh green look (like the green of a butter lettuce), but like most 'pretty' varietals is not as robust and dense as the original.

    On Deborah's plant struggling - most Australian plants do get leggy over time, its just what they do. I would consider cropping it back hard, changing the soil, and perhaps add more natural water retention (mulch/compost), or 'water retainer' If that fails, give it more sun.
    Most of all, make sure you water deep and less, rather than regular light sprinkling.
    Aussie plants seek water obsessively. If you water them deep, they grow deeper roots. But if you water only the top few inches of soil, and do that too frequently, their roots will head towards the surface, and then fry when you forget to water, or on a hot day


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