The kangaroo paw is a plant that is native to Australia. It is known for its ability to grow easily and stunning display of colours. Within this blog, learn more about these iconic plants and how you can grow and care for a kangaroo paw within your garden.
What Are Kangaroo Paws?
The kangaroo paw originates from the southwestern area of Western Australia. Its name comes from the plant’s flower closely resembling the paw of the native Australian kangaroo.
Kangaroo paw flowers are covered in fine, velvety hairs and come in a stunning variety of colours, including yellow, orange, red, pink or purple. The colour of the kangaroo paw flower changes with varying levels of exposure to light and temperature, so you’ll find that the tones will be more intense in cooler climates.
Depending on the variety, the height of the kangaroo paw can vary significantly. Small kangaroo paw varieties can start as little as 50 centimetres, while other kangaroo paws can reach a height of three metres.
What Are the Different Kangaroo Paw Varieties?
There are twelve kangaroo paw species, each with its unique characteristics. Eleven of these varieties belong to the Anigozanthos genus, including the Anigozanthos gabrielae. Its compact dimensions make it ideal for those who have smaller gardens.
For dramatic display, opt for the Anigozanthos flavidus, which can reach up to three metres in height. If you want to introduce the ‘wow’ factor into your garden, then the only kangaroo paw from the Macropidia genus, the Macropidia fuliginosa, is the plant for you. Due to its striking black and green kangaroo paw flowers, it’s commonly called the black kangaroo paw.
Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos Tall Cultivars
Kangaroo paw anigozanthos tall cultivators are regarded as long-lived garden plants. They include hybrids between Anigozanthos flavidus and Anigozanthos pulcherrimus (with blossoms in shades of yellow, red and orange) as well as those between Anigozanthos flavidus and Anigozanthos rufus group (with burgundy, bright red and orange-red blossoms). These Australian plants are vigorous growers with good resistance to fungal diseases. Among these tall kangaroo paws are:
- Anigozanthos Big Red (Red) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.8 metres tall by 0.6 – 0.9 metres wide. Bright red flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Bush Dawn (Yellow) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.8 metres tall by 0.3 – 0.6 metres wide. Bright yellow flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Bush Devil (Red) – Evergreen perennial. 0.8 – 1.2 metres tall by 0.3 – 0.6 metres wide. Small, bright red flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Bush Sunset (Red) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.5 metres tall by 0.3 – 0.6 metres wide. Dark red flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Landscape Lilac (Pink) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.5 metres tall by 0.3 – 0.6 metres wide. Lilac pink flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Orange Cross (Orange) – Evergreen perennial. 1.5 – 2.0 metres tall by 0.6 – 0.9 metres wide. Orange flowers. Blooms in spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Red Cross (Burgundy) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.8 metres tall by 0.3 – 0.6 metres wide. Dark burgundy-red flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Yellow (Yellow) – Evergreen perennial. 1.2 – 1.8 metres tall by 0.6 – 0.9 metres wide. Bright yellow flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos Dwarf/Small Cultivars
Kangaroo paw anigozanthos dwarf and small cultivars are short-lived plants. They result from crosses between Anigozanthos flavidus and short-lived species such as humilis, bicolour or gabrielae. These dwarf kangaroo paw cultivators bloom over a longer period, some of them flowering all year round in frost-free conditions. These kangaroo paws make terrific container plants and provide great cut flowers for indoor arrangements. Among these, notable dwarf kangaroo paws are:
- Anigozanthos Bush Diamond (Pink) – Perennial. 0.6 – 0.8m tall by 0.3 – 0.6m wide. White fuzzy flowers on pink flower stems. Blooms spring, summer and autumn.
- Anigozanthos Bush Lantern (Yellow/Green) – Perennial. 0.6 – 0.8m tall by 0.3 – 0.6m wide. Bright yellow/green flowers. Blooms spring and summer.
- Anigozanthos Bush Pearl (Pink) – Perennial. 0.6m tall by 0.5m wide. Red flowers on red flower stems. Blooms all year.
- Anigozanthos Bush Ranger (Red) – Perennial. 0.6 – 0.8m tall by 0.5 – 0.7m wide. Pink, fuzzy flowers. Blooms spring, summer and autumn.
- Anigozanthos Kanga Burgundy (Red) – Evergreen perennial. 0.3 – 0.6m tall by 0.3 – 0.6m wide. Red flowers with red flower stems. Blooms spring and summer.
What Are the Pros of Growing Kangaroo Paws?
Growing kangaroo paws is an absolute delight. Here’s why:
- They are native to Australia, so they are easy to grow in their natural environment.
- They come in various heights, which makes them perfect for different settings in your garden.
- Kangaroo paw plants are hardy and low-maintenance plants.
What Are the Cons of Growing Kangaroo Paws?
Despite their easy-going nature, kangaroo paws do present a couple of challenges:
- While they work best in their original habitat, Western Australia, kangaroo paws may not thrive in other areas of Australia – for example, Queensland, which is wetter.
- Kangaroo paws can be prone to diseases such as black ink spot disease, a fungal disorder, and root rot, which can be caused by overwatering.
How to Plant Kangaroo Paws
While the conditions for kangaroo paw plants may differ according to the variety, here are the general guidelines for planting them successfully:
- Know that it’s best to plant kangaroo paws between March and October.
- Find a spot that is in full sun or partly shady and protected from the wind.
- Look for good drainage when choosing your planting location.
- Prepare the ground by digging in fertiliser.
- Dig a hole twice the size of the pot your kangaroo paw plant came in and position it in place.
- Fill in the hole with soil and give your kangaroo paw plant a good water.
- If you are planning on planting more than one kangaroo paw, place the plants roughly 80cm apart.
If you are growing your kangaroo paw in a pot, follow these tips:
- Use a potting mix specifically formulated for Australian native plants.
- Add some pebbles to the top of the garden pot to keep moisture in and stabilise the temperature.
- Top up with water when needed, especially in hot weather.
Also good to know:
- If you’re planting kangaroo paw plants from seed, they will spout after approximately four weeks.
How to Care for a Kangaroo Paw
Some varieties of kangaroo paw only live for around two years, while others may thrive for 20 years or more. This means that kangaroo paw care requirements will vary, so be sure to check their label carefully.
Striking and easily grown in frost-free climates, kangaroo paws are best grown in a well-draining soil called sandy loam and placed in full sun to light shade. Water freely during the flowering season to keep the soil moist and refrain from watering during winter. Protect the kangaroo paws roots during the winter months by laying a dry mulch.
While kangaroo paw plants can survive in drought conditions, they still need proper watering, especially when their foliage and flowers are in growth. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that their surrounding soil conditions keep moist without becoming waterlogged.
You can also give your kangaroo paw plants controlled-release fertiliser when you’ve just cut them back and then again in spring as they enter their growth period. In summer and autumn, you can divide the plant’s clumps to produce more plants that are more manageable.
How to Prune a Kangaroo Paw
Here’s our advice on pruning kangaroo paw plants:
- Remove diseased, damaged and dead leaves.
- Remove flowers as soon as they are past their best, trimming stems down to the base to encourage further flower growth.
- Trim the leaves off each of the flower stalks to further stimulate flowering.
- If your kangaroo paw is a variety that only flowers once a year, you can cut off the top third of the flower stem as buds start to open. This will stimulate buds lower down to flower.
- At the close of the flowering season, you can cut the rhizome (root mass) down to ground level.
Want to Know More About Kangaroo Paws?
Kangaroo paws are terrific at providing a vibrant splash of colour in sunny garden borders or decorative pots. The tall kangaroo paw variety makes a lovely backdrop at the rear of your garden, while the dwarf varieties could be placed at the front of your garden, where they will show off their fantastic colours.