Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus flavidus, A. manglesii, A. humilis, Macropidia fulginosa)
The blooms of the kangaroo paw are some of the most unique of all our Australian flora. The common name is a reference to the hairy, tubular flowers that resemble the paws on the front legs of a kangaroo. The red and green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthus manglesii) is the floral emblem of Western Australia and all kangaroo paws are native to that state. The black kangaroo paw is now considered a separate genus (Macropidia fulginosa).
Plants have a clumping habit with strappy, dark green leaves emerging from underground stems or rhizomes. Peak flowering occurs during late spring and summer with plants becoming largely dormant during the cooler months of the year. The blooms attract nectar feeding birds and insects which in turn pollinate the flowers. The flowers are long lasting in the garden and as cut blooms. They come in colours including red, crimson, pink, mauve, orange, gold, yellow and lime green.
Check with staff at your local hardware or garden centre to find a kangaroo paw that will suit your garden spot. Some to consider are:
- Small, less vigorous growers include Anigozanthus manglesii, Bush Diamond, Bush Lantern, Bush Pearl, Bush Ranger, Dwarf Delight, Kanga Burgundy and Pink Joey.
- Tall, vigorous clumps include Anigozanthus flavidus, Big Red, Bush Dawn, Bush Sunset, Landscape Lilac, Orange Cross, Red Cross and Yellow.
Climate Plants are best suited to temperate and Mediterranean climates. They cope with cold and light frost. Take advice from staff at your local nursery if you are planting in tropical or subtropical climates as only a limited number of selections are suitable for these regions and the lifespan of plants will be shorter.
Aspect A northern aspect with full sun provides ideal growing conditions. Good air circulation is also critical for strong, healthy growth. Hot courtyards and balconies as well as coastal exposure are well-tolerated. Plants that are shaded during any part of the day bloom less prolifically and are more disease prone.
Soil Kangaroo paws prefer sandy, well-drained soil, but tolerate a range of free-draining soil types and varying pH. Where conditions are less than ideal, the hardy Anigozanthus flavidus is the best option. Undertake some soil improvement before planting by adding home-made compost and/or Seasol Super Compost or Garden Soil prior to planting. Pot culture using Seasol Advanced Potting Mix is recommended for dwarf varieties.