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Australian Grow Guide: Lomandra longifolia (Spiny Headed Mat Rush)

Lomanda longifolia is a tufted grass-like plant that grows naturally throughout eastern Australia. It’s extremely hardy and will tolerate most soil types and is also frost and drought-tolerant.

Featured Image: Lomandra longifolia / Photo by Peterdownunder / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 3.0

I have a couple of these plants in my current garden and they require very little maintenance or any additional watering. The creamy white flower spikes are quite attractive and the tough green leaves add some lovely flow to the garden.

Lomandra longifolia flower | Plant care
Lomandra longifolia / Photo by Stickpen / Wikimedia

Interestingly, the leaves of this hardy plant were used by indigenous Australians to make baskets and the seeds were ground into flour.

Lomandra longifolia varieties

A number of cultivars of Lomandra longifolia have been bred over the years. Here are the most common ones.

Lomandra longifolia ‘Katrinus Deluxe’

This cultivar grows to a height of around 70 cm and produces lovely yellow flowers. It’s a more compact plant than the original species and has a nice weeping habit. This variety can be very useful for border planting or even growing along a bank for erosion control.

Lomandra longifolia ‘Tanika’

This is another compact form of Lomandra longifolia that will only reach a height of around 60 cm. The leaves are soft to the touch and the small yellow flowers can appear for around 7 months of the year.

This cultivar is also available in a variegated form.

Lomandra longifolia ‘Nyalla’

This cultivar has a more upright growth habit and is particularly suited to coastal areas. It will grow to a height of around 90 cm which makes it perfect for natural erosion control in these areas.

Lomandra longifolia ‘MURU Great White’

This cultivar has the prettiest variegated leaves and is great planted together with ‘Katrinus Deluxe’ to add some interest and contrast to a border or native garden bed. The flowers are a little larger than the original species.

Lomandra longifolia ‘Verday’

This is another cultivar that has leaves that are soft to the the touch. It produces small clusters of yellow perfumed flowers in spring through to autumn. It will only grow to a height of 50 cm which makes it a more compact form than the original species.

Site and soil preparation

Lomandra longifolia will grow happily in full sun or part shade. It will also adapt to most soil types, even those that may be a little damp. However, it doesn’t particularly like long cold and wet periods. In saying that, my plants have had no problem surviving long, cold, wet winters.

It’s best to choose a site that has adequate drainage and not one that remains waterlogged for long periods of time. Other than that, there are no special soil preparation requirements needed for planting this species.

How to plant Lomandra longifolia

All you have to do to plant Lomandra longifolia is to dig a hole that is a little wider and as deep as the rootball of the plant. Then, take the plant out of the pot and place it in the centre of the hole.

Backfill the hole with soil and water well to ensure that the soil settles around the roots of the plant. You can add a small amount of slow-release fertiliser if your soil is really poor but this is not necessary for most soil types.

How to care for Lomandra longifolia

For time-poor gardeners, this is one of those plants that you can just plant and forget. It will thrive without any special attention. 

Lomandra longifolia | Plant care
Lomandra longifolia / Photo by Daderot / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

However, because I like to rejuvenate my plants on an annual basis, I will cut back the foliage in late autumn or early winter. This also helps to neaten up the plants and will encourage new fresh growth. Generally, I just use a pair of manual hedging shears to cut back all the leaves by about half. 

I do this after I’ve removed the spent flower spikes and seeds which will just pull away from the plant easily. I also pull away any dead leaves to really spruce up the plants.

You don’t have to do this annually – once every two years is fine. However, if you don’t mind how the plant looks growing naturally, this pruning is not an absolute necessity. After all, these plants never get pruned in their natural environment.

Lomandra longifolia problems, pests and diseases

You’ll be happy to know that Lomandra longifolia is virtually problem free. The only problem you might come across is if your plant is growing in waterlogged soils that never drain fully.

These types of growing conditions can cause the growth of a root rot fungus that will eventually kill your plants.

FAQ

How quickly does Lomandra grow?

Lomandra is a very fast-growing and hardy plant suitable for a variety of garden situations. 

Are Lomandras invasive?

No, Lomandras are not invasive as they’re tufted plants that will only grow to a certain width. However, the seeds do germinate quite readily but it’s unlikely that these will spread around your garden.

What can I plant next to Lomandra?

You can plant other native or even non-native plants next to your Lomandra that enjoy the same growing conditions. Ideally, choose shrubs that will grow taller than the Lomandra to create some height and interest around your garden.

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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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