You can’t beat Kangaroo Paws for colour in a bush garden. Breeding these iconic Australian plants has improved both their disease resistance and colour range. And you can grow them with anything.
Name: Anigozanthos, commonly known as Kangaroo Paw.
Anigozanthos is often found among native gardens nationwide and has gained popularity abroad. Varieties can range in height from 15cm to plants with flower stems over 2m. Foliage is usually green, strappy and smooth however some exhibit grey to blue foliage that can be coarse and appear hairy. Flowers are equally diverse, with colours of burnt orange to red, pink, purple, white and bi-colours such as red and green. There are 11 species in the genus but many more hybrid cultivars. Breeding has also developed distinct categories of Kangaroo Paws for different applications: The 'Bush Gems Lanscaper' series plants are hardy, tall growing and seasonal flowering, whereas plants in the 'Bush Gems' series are more suited to pots, flower all year and are available in a greater range of colours.
Kangaroo paws love full sun but they will tolerate some shade. Excellent drainage is important, which is why they do so well in pots with good quality native potting mix. Grow them in well-drained soils in a sunny position in the garden, adding sand to heavy clay soils and mounding the garden bed above the level of the surrounding soil.
Let’s take you through some of the many available:
‘Bush Ballad’ - 50cm high, masses of small red flowers through most of the year.
‘Bush Blitz’ - 70cm high, dark orange/burgundy flowers from spring through to autumn.
‘Bush Bonanza’ - 60cm high, bright yellow flowers on red stems from spring to autumn.
‘Bush Diamond’ - 60cm high, white flowers with a blush of pink in the cooler months, flowers almost all year.
‘Bush Dance’ - 60cm high, masses of red and green flowers from spring to autumn.
‘Bush Elegance’ - 60cm high, rich burgundy flowers nearly year-round.
‘Bush Inferno’ - 60cm high, fiery red flowers almost year-round.
‘Bush Pearl’ - 60cm high, an abundance of bright candy pink flowers all year.
‘Bush Pizzazz’ - 70cm high, masses of magenta flowers nearly year-round.
‘Bush Spark’ - 70cm high, a profusion of orange flowers from spring to autumn.
‘Bush Pioneer’ – 1.6m tall, 1m wide with yellow flowers from spring to autumn, it’ll tolerate light frosts.
‘Bush Revolution’ – 2m tall, 1m wide with bright orange flowers from spring to autumn.
‘Lilac Queen’ - stems will usually reach 1.5m with flowers of rich purple that fade to pink. Flowers appear in spring and continue throughout the warmer months.
'Rampaging Roy Slaven' – to 1.6m tall with masses of large orange flowers and broad strappy leaves. It has a spreading habit, with high disease tolerance and profuse flowering, tough and long-lived.
Belongs: to the Haemodoraceae family
Origins: South-western Australia
Flowering: Spring through to autumn
Spring: Furry ‘paws’ bloom on branching stems above strappy foliage. Fertilise with native plant food or Blood & Bone.
Summer: Although drought-tolerant they benefit from the occasional soaking during dry spells. Spent flower spikes can be removed throughout the season to improve appearance and encourage new flower formation – check halfway down the stem for tiny flower buds and prune just above them.
Autumn: Give them another light feed. Remove spent flower heads by cutting the entire fan of leaves out at the base, this will encourage new flowers to take their place. They also can be divided now by digging the clump out. Then cut through with a spade into four, removing any old or diseased leaf fans (you'll see the new leaves shooting from the clump). This will give you more plants to spread around.
Winter: It’s a good idea to cut the foliage right back almost to ground level towards the end of winter, this may seem harsh but they will come back strong and clean.
We love them with: Other Aussie greats naturally, such as Banksia, Grevillea and Lomandra, with crisp white Myoporum creeping through. Linda grows a mix of tall purple, pink and lemon ‘paws’ to great effect. Pink and white flowerers can also be worked into cottage gardens with Gaura, Salvia and Erigeron. Use them to bring pops of colour into a minimalistic succulent or gravel garden too.
Warnings: Most are damaged by frost and are difficult to grow in frosty areas. They have annoying hairs that itch exposed skin so wear long gloves and avoid the falling flowers when cutting back. Avoid overwatering and humid spots in the garden if possible. Try not to water in the evening, water in the morning if you can as wet foliage overnight can contribute to ink spot disease.
What else: Linda grows the tall ones as the dwarf varieties live for a short time, usually only two years or so. They look best used grouped together in clumps rather than as borders. They’re perfect for cut flowers, attract birds and offer shelter for lizards and some frogs.
Where to buy: Visit our Nursery Partners in late winter and early spring for smaller varieties, tall-growing ones come into nurseries in late spring through summer.