Anigozanthus: How to Grow and Care for Kangaroo Paw Plants
Anigozanthus is a genus of Southwest Australian plants of the bloodwort family Haemodoraceae. The 11 species and their subspecies are commonly known as kangaroo paw or catspaw, depending on their size, and the shape and color of their flowers. A further species, previously identified as Anigozanthos fuliginosus (black kangaroo paw), was separated to a monotypic genus as Macropidia fuliginosa.
Kangaroo paw plants are popular for their unusual tubular flowers that grow on stalks in fan-like rows and are covered in velvety fuzz, giving them the appearance of an animalâs paw. The blooms come in an array of shades, including red, orange, yellow, and purple. Kangaroo paw plants are also easy to grow and care for, as they are drought tolerant, fast draining, and heat loving.
How to Grow Kangaroo Paw Plants
Kangaroo paw plants can thrive in the ground or in a container. The dwarf varieties are especially suitable for containers. Either way, one of the keys to growing the plants is fast-draining soil. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11, you can plant kangaroo paw in your garden and expect it to come back year after year as a perennial. However, if you live in a cooler climate youâll either have to bring your kangaroo paw indoors for the winter, or treat your plants as annuals, letting them die at the end of the growing season in the fall and replacing them with new plants the next spring.
These plants prefer to grow in full sun. At least six hours of direct sunlight on most days will enable kangaroo paw plants to produce the best growth and blooms. They can even tolerate intense light from hot afternoon sun. Insufficient light, on the other hand, can cause tall plants to flop over and lessen bloom production.
Sandy soil with a slightly acidic pH (5.8 to 6.5) is their preferred growth medium but kangaroo paws can tolerate a variety of soil types, as long as there is good drainage.
How to Care for Kangaroo Paw Plants
Kangaroo paw plants prefer a moderate amount of soil moisture, though they have some drought tolerance. Soggy soil can cause root rot and kill the plants. So wait until the top couple inches of soil are dry to the touch before watering. However, in the spring and summer when most of the blooming occurs, kangaroo paw does appreciate some additional water.
These plants thrive in the heat, and frost can be fatal. They like temperatures between roughly 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also naturally thrive in dry conditions but can tolerate some humidity, too.
Kangaroo paw plants aren’t heavy feeders, so regular fertilizing isn’t necessary. However, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer once or twice a year to boost their growth and flowering.
Pruning is also important for keeping your kangaroo paw plants healthy and attractive. You can remove spent flower stalks at any time to encourage more blooms. You can also cut back the foliage by half after flowering to rejuvenate the plant and prevent diseases.
Types of Kangaroo Paw Plants
There are many types of kangaroo paw plants available for cultivation and floristry, ranging from dwarf varieties that grow only a few inches tall to tall varieties that can reach up to 10 feet high. Some of the most popular types include:
- Anigozanthos ‘Bush Ranger’: A drought tolerant cultivar developed from a hybrid between Anigozanthos flavidus and Anigozanthos humilis. The orange flowers are formed on stalks which grow about 50 cm tall. It can tolerate moderate frosts and has some resistance to ink disease.
- Anigozanthos ‘Harmony’: A compact variety that