With it’s unique, fuzzy flowers shaped like a claw (hence the name), kangaroo paw isn’t just a pretty plant – this Aussie native is pretty clever, too! With flowers shaped specifically for easy nectar extraction by pollinating birds and an underground, bushfire-proof root system, this plant has definitely adapted itself to survive – and thrive – over tens of thousands of years.
Kangaroo paw can be found in a variety of gorgeous colours including red, green, orange, yellow, white, purple, and even black.
There are 12 unique species of kangaroo paw, and all are native to southern Western Australia. Although these particular species can be tricky to cultivate outside the region, there are hundreds of hybrid varieties available which can be grown in different environments all around the country. Check in with your local nursery or garden centre to find out which varieties grow well in your region.
In general, however, kangaroo paw is a sun-lover – grow it in full sun to part-shade, in a well-draining soil.
Kangaroo paw varieties can be roughly divided into two groups – taller and shorter varieties – which determine what kind of care they need.
The taller varieties, growing up to 2 metres, are the easiest to care for. They will tolerate a broad range of soils and climatic conditions, including humidity. They are perennials which form large clumps over time and produce lots of flowers in spring and summer.
The shorter varieties, under a metre, will give you more flowers, sometimes year-round, but they do need more care and don’t live as long. These varieties are a great choice for planting in pots, where watering can be better controlled and they don’t have to compete with stronger plants.
When it comes to watering, kangaroo paw will need reliable moisture when growing and flowering, but doesn’t like being wet. Many will benefit from having a little dry period over the cooler months.
Kangaroo paw is susceptible to a couple of diseases, including leaf rust and ink spot. Reduce the risk of infection by avoiding having the leafs continuously wet and remove any leaves that show signs of blackening. When you’re choosing your kangaroo paw, chat with the experts at your local nursery or garden centre about resilient varieties.
As kangaroo paw’s main growing points are underground, you can prune it back quite dramatically in early spring, down at the base of the plant, and it will come back stronger than ever.