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Crowea is a genus of flowering evergreen plants that are known for their pink star-shaped blossoms. Found primarily in Australia and New Zealand, the crowea plant is known as the waxflower in its native region. Unlike many exotic flowers, this plant blooms in fall and winter rather than spring or summer. It typically reacts better to frost than extreme heat, making it well-suited to many different world climate zones.
This genus gets its name from British scientist James Crowe, who made important contributions to its study during the late 18th-century. Crowea includes just three major species, though botanists and gardeners have also cultivated many hybrid species. Most crowea species grow best in sunny or partially-shady conditions. They require frequent watering, particularly during early development, but can eventually survive extended dry spells as they mature.
The Australian waxflower, otherwise known as the crowea exalata, is one of the most widely known species within this genus. The exalta features a shrub-like appearance, and grows very bushy over time to cover a large area of ground. It must be grown in lime-free soils, and requires regular pruning to ensure continued growth. This species is known for its pink flowers, which feature five symmetrical petals that form the shape of a star. The leaves of these petals are very waxy to the touch, which gives the plant its nickname.
The crowea saligna is one of the most easily adaptable species of this plant, making it well-suited for non-native climates. It is highly-resistant to most pests, but may be damaged by extreme cold or some forms of mold. This species is larger than the exalta, and tends to grow upright, rather than out along the ground. The saligna features larger, more vibrant flowers than the exalta, with the petals of each flower forming a rounded or elliptical shape. Some hybrid species of this plant feature longer, thinner leaves that detract slightly from the flower's star-like shape.
While most species of this plant produce bright pink blossoms, the crowea angustifolia produces very pale pink or white flowers. The plant itself is small and low to the ground, with small green leaves. When the angustifolia is in bloom, its large number of white blossoms can completely cover the base of the plant. After the blooms have faded, the leafy-green base continues to form a shrub-like ground covering. A dwarf version of this plant maintains a reduced ground covering, but it rarely found outside of its native Australia.