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Kangaroo Paw

Perennials, Flowers

Evergreen from southwestern Australia. Thick rootstocks send up fans of dark green, swordlike leaves and spikes bearing fuzzy, tubular flowers in red, purple, green, or yellow. The striking blooms are curved at the tips like kangaroo paws (tips are split into six segments). Plants bloom from late spring to fall if spent flowering spikes are cut to the ground. Good cut flowers. Grow in light sandy soil or heavier soil amended to improve drainage. Control snails and slugs.

Anigozanthos flavidus

Branching stems to 5 ft. tall bear 1–1 1/2-in.-long, yellow-green flowers tinged with red. Foliage clump is 2–3 ft. wide.

Anigozanthos ‘Yellow Gem’ (photo courtesy of E. Spencer Toy)
Anigozanthos ‘Yellow Gem’ (photo courtesy of E. Spencer Toy)

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Anigozanthos hybrids

Kangaroo paws hybridize freely in nature and in cultivation. The following are among the many superior garden plants that have been developed. Foliage clumps range from a foot across (for most dwarf varieties) to about 3 ft. wide; the smaller types make good container subjects.

‘Big Red’. Extra-large bright red blossoms top 3–4-ft.-tall stems.

Bush Gems series. These were bred to resist the leaf and root diseases that afflict kangaroo paws. Two of the best are 2 1/2–3-ft., easy-to-grow ‘Bush Gold’, which bears clear lemon yellow flowers above lime green leaves over a long bloom season; and 1 1/2–2 1/2-ft. ‘Bush Ranger’, a long-lived variety with clear red blooms. Other good varieties include ‘Bush Baby’, with flowers blending red, orange, and yellow on 1 1/2-ft. stems; ‘Bush Emerald’, bearing surprising green flowers with contrasting yellow throats and brilliant orange anthers on 2–2 1/2-ft. stems; ‘Bush Lantern’, a bright yellow dwarf 1–2 ft. tall; and ‘Bush Pearl’, with bubblegum pink blossoms on 2-ft. stems.

‘Harmony’. Yellow flowers on tall (4–6 ft.) stems clothed with bright red hairs.

‘Pink Joey’. Silvery pink flowers on stems 1–3 ft. high.

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