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Grow Guide: Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)

Kangaroo paws are uniquely Australian and have the most interesting flowers in a wide range of colours. These flowers appear on long stems in spring and summer and are ideal as cut flowers.

Kangaroo Paw only grows naturally in the southwestern part of Western Australia, so this should give you some idea of their ideal growing conditions (warm dry summers and cool wet winters).

While I have grown these lovely natives previously, I haven’t grown kangaroo paws in my current garden in Victoria. I have, however, seen them growing just up the road around the local shopping precinct.

Although kangaroo paws are fairly low-maintenance, they do benefit from an annual prune and you might be surprised how hard you should cut them back to get the best from these unique plants.

When to plant kangaroo paw 

Kangaroo paws can be planted at any time, as they grow from underground rhizomes. However, if you live in an area that gets frost in winter, then avoid planting during this time.

There are two general types of kangaroo paws. The tall varieties are generally quite hardy and can be grown in most areas. These are the best for cooler and more temperate regions.

Then, there are the shorter varieties that flower prolifically. However, these varieties do need a little more care and are often grown in pots as short-lived perennials.

Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos 3 | Plant care

One thing that kangaroo paws don’t like is high levels of humidity, so they can be quite difficult to grow for any length of time in Queensland.

However, gardeners have found that the plants will do well for a couple of years in the more humid regions and slightly longer in the southern parts of the state.

How to plant kangaroo paw

If you’re just starting out, consider planting some of the taller varieties first in your garden. You should select a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Make sure that you add some organic matter to the soil before planting.

Although kangaroo paws will adapt to a range of different soils, they do prefer slightly acidic soil that doesn’t stay wet for too long.

Plant your kangaroo paws by digging a hole that is as deep as the pot and around twice as wide.

hole for plant | Plant care

The crown of the rhizome should be at ground level and not buried under the soil.

Mulching around your kangaroo paws is recommended as this helps the soil to retain more moisture during hot, dry summers. However, make sure that you don’t cover the crown of the rhizome with mulch.

The crown needs to be exposed to sunlight if you want lots of flowers in spring and summer. Make sure you water your kangaroo paws after planting.

How to care for kangaroo paw

Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos 1 | Plant care

During summer, when the plants are in full bloom, you want to make sure that they’re well-watered. Just test the top few centimetres of soil and if it’s dry, give your plants a good soaking.

You can give your plants some slow-release organic fertiliser in spring to boost flowering. These plants are not phosphorus-sensitive, so you can use your favourite fertiliser on them.

Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos 2 | Plant care

When the plants are in full bloom, you can cut some of the flower stems to put into a vase. In fact, if you do this, you may end up with additional flowers. Any flower stems that have been left on the plant should be cut once they’re past their prime. Cut these right down to ground level.

As kangaroo plants go dormant during winter, you want to cut them back quite hard at the end of autumn or early winter. In fact, you should cut all the foliage back to ground level. If you do this, you’ll be rewarded with fresh new growth in spring.

Don’t be afraid to do this as even top breeders follow this same procedure with all of their breeding stock in order to increase the longevity of their plants.

How to propagate kangaroo paw

One of the best ways to get even more kangaroo paws growing around your garden is to propagate them by dividing up the clumps. Remember that these plants grow from underground rhizomes, so dividing the clumps is a great way to keep your plants healthy and create new ones.

This can be done in spring, summer, and autumn by just using a spade to dig up the whole clump. Then, just cut this into smaller sections using a sharp knife or even a spade.

Ensure that each piece has a healthy and plump rhizome attached and then plant these pieces back into your garden.

Kangaroo paw pests and diseases

Although kangaroo paws are natives and not prone to many problems, there is one disease that you should look out for and that is black ink spot.

This is a fungal disease and will appear as round black lesions on the leaves. If you spot any of these on your plants, remove as much of the affected foliage as possible and treat your plant with a good fungicide. 

The best way to avoid fungal diseases, such as black ink spot and rust, attacking your plants is to only water at the soil level and avoid getting the leaves wet. Good airflow around the plants is also ideal. However, if you cut your plants back every year, you should have fewer problems.

Interesting kangaroo paw varieties to try

Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos | Plant care

While there are only 11 species of Anigozanthos, there are numerous hybrids and cultivars available. Some of the more interesting ones include:

  • Amber Velvet
  • Gold Velvet
  • Bush Dawn
  • Bush Pearl
  • Landscape Lilac
  • Orange Cross
  • Anigozanthos manglesii (Red & Green Kangaroo Paw)

FAQ

Is kangaroo paw poisonous?

No, kangaroo paw is not poisonous to dogs, cats, or humans.

What is kangaroo paw flower used for?

You might be interested to learn that the kangaroo paw flower is used in cosmetics and skincare. It contains antioxidants and Omega-6 fatty acids.

How much sun do kangaroo paws need?

Kangaroo paws should ideally be grown in full sun to keep them flowering well. At least 6 hours of sunlight per day is required.

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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