Native to Australia, Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paw) are tufted evergreen rhizomatous perennials with vibrant flower colors atop fans of narrowly strap-shaped leaves. Borne on leafless flowering stalks, the remarkable flowers are clustered at the ends of the stalks. Tubular, they are covered with velvety hairs and have pointed lobes, which are curved at their tips, giving them the appearance of kangaroo paws, hence the common name.
- Kangaroo paws are available in glorious shades of yellow, orange, red, pink or purple. An interesting fact is their color variation with temperature. They become more intensely colored when exposed to low temperatures, therefore the same kangaroo paw can take different looks in different environments.
- Kangaroo paws enjoy a fairly long blooming season extending from late spring to fall, if spent flowering spikes are cut to the ground. The flowers attract nectar-feeding birds and honey possums.
- Evergreen, the foliage forms a basal rosette of narrow, linear, upright or arching green leaves, up to 3ft. long (90 cm).
- Kangaroo paws belong to the genus Anigozanthos, which includes 11 species and many hybrid cultivars, offering a wide array of size and flower colors.
- The tall cultivars (6ft. tall or 2m) 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 x rufus group (with burgundy to bright red or orange-red blossoms). These plants are vigorous growers with a good resistance to fungal diseases. Among these tall kangaroo paws are:
Anigozanthos 'Big Red' - Evergreen perennial to 6' tall by 2' wide with bright red flowers from spring-fall.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Dawn' - Evergreen perennial to 6' tall by 2' wide with yellow flowers from spring-fall.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Devil' - Evergreen perennial. Leaves to 1-2' tall & red flowers on red stems to 3-4' tall spring-fall
Anigozanthos 'Bush Sunset' - Evergreen perennial to 5-6' tall by 2' wide with dark red flowers from spring-fall.
Anigozanthos 'Landscape Lilac' - Evergreen perennial to 5-6' tall by 2' wide with lilac-pink flowers from spring-fall.
Anigozanthos 'Orange Cross' - Evergreen perennial to 4-5' tall with orange flowers in summer.
Anigozanthos 'Red Cross' - Evergreen perennial 4-6' tall with dark burgundy red flowers in spring-summer.
Anigozanthos 'Yellow' - Evergreen perennial to 6' tall by 2' wide with yellow flowers from spring-fall.
- Dwarf and small cultivars are short-lived plants. They result from crosses between Anigozanthos flavidus and short-lived species such as A. humilis, A. bicolor or A. gabrielae. However, these dwarf kangaroo paw cultivars bloom their heart off over a long flowering period, some of them flowering all year round in frost free conditions. They make terrific container plants and provide great cut flowers for indoor arrangements. Among these notable dwarf kangaroo paws are:
Anigozanthos Bush Diamond - Perennial to 2-3' with white fuzzy flowers on pink stems
Anigozanthos 'Bush Lantern' - Narrow linear light green foliage. Yellow, fuzzy flowers. 10-16 in. tall.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Pearl' - Perennial with narrow green linear leaves. Pink, fuzzy flowers.1-2 ft. tall.
Anigozanthos 'Bush Ranger' - Evergreen perennial. Leaves to 1-2' tall & red flowers on red stems to 2-3' tall spring-fall.
Anigozanthos Kanga Burgundy - Evergreen perennial with leaves to 1' tall & red flowers on red stems to 2' spring-fall.
- Anigozanthos species are also worth cultivation, in particular the gigantic Anigozanthos flavidus which can reach up to 6 ft. in height (2m) and is usually yellow, but can be orange, red, pink or green. Anigozanthos manglesii is also a good candidate with its erect, red-hairy stems to 4ft. (120 cm) bearing racemes of tubular greenish-yellow to dark green flowers. The Royal Horticultural Society gave it its Award of Garden Merit.
- Striking and easily-grown in for frost-free climates, kangaroo paws are best grown in well-drained sandy loam in full sun to light shade. Water freely during the flowering season, keep almost dry in winter. Provide a location protected from strong winds. Protect with a dry mulch over the winter months.
- Tidy the plant after flowering by deadheading.
- Kangaroo Paws are terrific at providing a vibrant splash of color in sunny garden borders or decorative pots. The tall kangaroo varieties make a lovely backdrop at the back of the border, while the dwarfs varieties could be placed at the front of the garden borders where they will show off their fantastic colors.