With all the challenges of 2020, it will be nice to see spring with all that it will bring for gardeners. Warming but mild weather brings fresh new growth to our plants and sees all the spring flowers popping. My favourite kangaroo paws start budding up and blooming, as this is their peak flowering season.
In recent newsletters I have been mentioning my tree planting projects on my Tasmanian farm, and I am thrilled to say I have added in another of my passion projects to the mix and have now finally brought to Tasmania my breeding collection of kangaroo paws from the nursery that distributes my kangaroo paw hybrids around the world, NSW Central Coast nursery RAMM Botanicals. They have been and are responsible for coordinating and distributing millions of my babies, not only all over Australia, but also far flung countries worldwide such as the USA, various European nations, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and others. I first got involved in kangaroo paw breeding while working as a researcher at Sydney University after finishing my horticultural degree there in 1980, with the intention of taking a genus that is beautiful and iconic as a wildflower, but often temperamental in garden situations, particularly in more humid climates, and developing them into great garden plants.
While I and a few other breeders have had many successes, with some outstanding cultivars now being sold all over the world, I know there is still much more that can be done with these fascinating plants, particularly in creating much tougher dwarf garden varieties, so the passion to create new colours and at the same time tougher varieties will continue down here in Tasmania. Watch this space!
Two cultivars that I bred and am particularly fond of, and that have stood the test of time are Bush Pearl and Bush Fury. Pearl is one of the smaller cultivars with pink flowers….
….Bush Fury is a medium sized grower with good red coloured flowers. Both flower for most of the year.
In a previous newsletter from 2016, I gave a few hints about caring for your kangaroo paws in spring, so I thought I would revisit the information for any who may have missed it-
Kangaroo paw care in Spring
At this stage of the season a little tender loving care can pay huge dividends in terms of the flower display you get. Most species and cultivars are currently pushing up flower stalks and they need an uninterrupted supply of water and nutrients if the flowers are to reach their full potential. If your weather is unseasonally hot and/or dry, then make sure you do not allow your paws to reach the stage where the developing flower stems start to wilt. Even if you get water onto a wilted plant in time, you are still likely to get a bend in the stem that can be avoided. If it is too late, you are likely to get a small and misshapen flower.
I also like to feed my kangaroo paws with liquid that I get from my worm farm while they are budding up. I make sure it is diluted to the colour of weak tea and pour it on liberally. A weekly application means that the plant is kept moist and well fed while the flowers develop too. An alternative is to apply around the base of the plant a generous handful of fertiliser such as Bush Tucker (that I helped formulate so I know it works well), and ensure that you water it well to help the nutrients get into the soil around the roots and really fill out the developing flower stems.
For more information on kangaroo paws-
More Native Plants Please!
While this is mainly about my trees and kangaroo paws, this is a great time to get along to your favourite native plant nursery and get some inspiration for what’s looking great in spring for you to plant and bring you much joy for future years to come. There is a wonderful variety of beautiful spring flowering natives to browse!