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Grow Guide: Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra)

Kangaroo grass is a native grass species that grows all over the country as well as in parts of Asia and Africa.

Featured Image: Themeda triandra / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

Kangaroo Grass is a tufted grass that has blue-green leaves in summer but these turn purple in winter. The flower spikes can grow up to 1.5 metres in height and turn a lovely bronze colour in autumn.

Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass | Plant care
Themeda triandra / Photo by Bernard Dupont / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

When grown in grazing country, this grass species is favoured by cows and horses and is also a food source for kangaroos and wallabies. The seeds are a favourite food source for birds and are also edible for humans. In fact, indigenous people would often harvest the seeds and grind them up to make flour.

You can grow kangaroo grass almost anywhere in Australia either as a groundcover or border plant or as a native lawn. 

Choosing your location and preparing the soil

Kangaroo grass grows best in full sun but can handle a semi-shaded position. These plants are also quite adaptable to most soil types and no special soil preparation is required.

However, they really thrive in sandy soils around the coast and also like sandy loam or clay loam.

You want to make sure that the area where you’re seeding or planting your seedlings is weed-free as it’s difficult for these plants to become established if there’s too much competition from weeds.

However, once the clumps are growing well, they are excellent at keeping weeds at bay.

How to plant kangaroo grass

You can grow kangaroo grass from seed or from purchased seedlings. If you want to seed an area in your garden for a native lawn, it’s best to do this in early spring to mid-summer because the seeds require a minimum soil temperature of 20 degrees Celsius to germinate freely.

There’s no need to till the soil first but you should plant the seeds around 15 mm deep. Then, just water the soil and wait for the seeds to germinate. Avoid covering the ground with mulch because this will stop the seeds from germinating.

Kangaroo grass seedlings can be planted at any time of the year and these just need a hole large enough to accommodate the rootball and a good watering once planted.

If you want to plant kangaroo grass along a border, space your seedlings around 25 to 30 cm apart. This will give them enough room to produce a nice clump.

Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass | Plant care
Themeda triandra / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

How to care for kangaroo grass

Kangaroo grass is fairly low-maintenance once you have it growing well in your garden. If you’ve planted seeds, you should ensure to keep the soil moist until all the seeds have germinated and the grass is growing well.

Themeda triandra | Plant care
Themeda triandra / Photo by Nadiatalent / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Seedlings should also be kept watered until they’re fully established. Once your kangaroo grass is growing well, it’s very drought-tolerant and shouldn’t require any supplementary watering.

If you’re growing this native grass as an ornamental or border plant, you should prune off the flower spikes and any dead foliage once a year in late summer or early autumn. This will ensure that you get lots of fresh green growth in spring.

It’s also not necessary to fertilise kangaroo grass but you can give it a boost with some liquid seaweed if you wish.

Common problems, pests and diseases of kangaroo grass

If you really dislike having to deal with common garden pests and diseases, then you’re in luck because kangaroo grass is resistant to almost all of these. 

The only problem that you might come across when growing kangaroo grass in a garden setting is an attack of aphids. If only found in small numbers, these are nothing to worry about especially if you have ladybirds and lacewings in your garden as well.

However, if you’re suddenly faced with a major infestation, you can easily deal with them by spraying your kangaroo grass with a mixture of neem oil and water. If the aphids have caused sooty mould to appear on your plants, then this can be wiped off with a damp cloth.

How to maintain a kangaroo grass lawn

One of the best things about growing a kangaroo grass lawn is that it requires very little maintenance. You only have to mow it once a year to remove the spent flower heads and dead foliage at the end of summer.

Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass 2 | Plant care
Themeda triandra / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

However, a kangaroo grass lawn should not be planted in areas that get heavy foot traffic as this clumping grass prefers to grow without being trampled on constantly. 

Kangaroo grass is also available as a mulch

During my research, I discovered that kangaroo grass is also available as a mulch from a company called Native Seeds and this is an interesting way to introduce this plant into your garden. Especially, if you’re developing a natural landscape with plenty of native plants.

The mulch is actually made using the grass spikes. These are collected and tumbled so that any loose seeds are collected separately. The remaining plant material can then be used as a mulch around your native garden beds.

Over time, the seeds that are still remaining will germinate and you’ll end up with clumps of kangaroo grass growing throughout your garden. This could be very useful in areas where natural revegetation is needed or desirable.

FAQ

Where does Themeda triandra grow naturally?

Themeda triandra grows naturally in most parts of the country and is also found in parts of Asia and Africa.

Can you mow kangaroo grass?

If you’re growing kangaroo grass as a native lawn, you can mow it once a year in late summer or early autumn to remove the dead foliage and spent flower spikes.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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