Trying to grow Australian Pines
I know this is politically incorrect but I would really like to get a stand of Australian Pines (Casuarina) established between my house and the Gulf. I live in a Gulf front ground level house that was damaged and almost destroyed by the storm surge in Hurricane Dennis. I have been researching vegetation that will absorb wave energy and hold onto the sand to plant in front of my house. I have already planted a lot of sea oats but I know from experience they have a limited ability to hold sand and no ability to absorb wave energy in a hurricane. They do help build dunes and that helps but I think Australian Pines would be better, and there is room for them between the sea oats and the house.
In my research I found that Australian Pines are valued for beach plants in south Asia for protection from both cyclones (what they call hurricanes) and tsunami protection. This seems counter to a lot of what you find in the Florida literature, but most of what is published there about Australian Pines is pretty negative. And the Asian studies are pretty scientific most of what I have found in the Florida literature on Australian Pines and beach erosion is unsupported claims that they can make it worse, I doubt that is true. I have a neighbor who had a stand of 30 year old Australian Pines on the beach by his house and they weathered the storm surge much better than anything else did, so I have empirical evidence as well.
I am in Franklin County in North Florida, well north of where Australian Pines are invasive species. In fact they are very rare here and the one stand I mentioned my neighbor has is the only one I have ever seen up here, I guess it is too cold unless you are right on the water. I can also say that their trees have not spread in 30 years, so no invasion here.
That was a long story but I thought it might be necessary, whenever I ask about this people automatically respond that its a bad idea, I just wanted yÂall to know that I have thought it through and am convinced it will help me out.
Does anyone have experience with either buying or propagating Australian Pines in Florida? I have not been able to find a source of plants anywhere. I did find a nursery in California that ships them, but when they found out I was in Florida they refused. I have ordered seeds on line from a number of sources but have had no luck getting them to germinate and live. My neighbor has offered to let me take whatever cuttings I want and I have been trying that with limited success. Last year I dug up about a 20 of his young trees, and tried all kinds of different ways to root cuttings. Out of maybe 200 attempts I have 5 living plants and the frustrating thing is that there seems to be no consistency in what lives and what doesnÂt. I tried different sizes, different rooting media, and different planting depths but nothing seems to work very well. Three of the live plants are from cuttings and two from the young trees I tried to transplant. My neighbor is generous but I hate to keep digging up every young sprout that appears in his yard, I would really like to figure out how to get more of the cuttings to survive. Any and all suggestions are welcome.