Grevilleas are sometimes used as showy accent plants in waterwise gardens. While adapted to low water use, they primarily come from areas of acidic clay soil in their native Australia which means they can be challenging to grow in the many areas of southern California with quickly draining slightly alkaline soil. They tend to turn yellowish due to lower availability of calcium in the soil than the soils with which they had evolved.
We include the plant on this site, primarily as a reference, and because these plants are often purchased at nurseries when people see their flowers, but then do not know how to care for them.
Unless you are a dedicated ornamental gardener, we recommend that most people plant a colorful blooming California native shrub that will be easier to grow in local gardens instead. Hummingbirds and some pollinators will use the flowers of Grevilleas so they do provide some habitat value, but many native shrub choices will provide greater overall habitat value while being easier to grow. Some top choices to consider instead include toyon, sugar bush, lemonade berry, and island bush poppy.
Long John grevillea is a tall upright growing evergreen shrub with an with a soft and billowy appearance. Mature plants become quite large and can reach heights of 10-15 ft. and spread 10-15 ft. across. Foliage consists of finely divided dark green leaves that are soft and pliable. Large numbers of showy light pink and red flowers occur in mid to late spring. This is a fast growing cultivar that needs space to mature and works well for screening and in mixed tree and shrub plantings. It is cold hardy to 20°F.