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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

Pruning Kangaroo Paws

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Apparently a lot of people out there are indeed growing Kangaroo Paws because the number 1 search engine term leading traffic to this blog at the moment is  ‘pruning Kangaroo Paws’. Good to see so many people like my favourite Australian native.

I’ve put together a special bonus report on the Kangaroo Paw (since I love it so much). If you want to learn more, click the blue button below to download my free printable PDF guide to the beautiful Kangaroo Paw.

As part of my native plant of the month series, I recently featured 4 varieties of the Kangaroo Paw, click through to each of these to learn more about some common kangaroo paw varieties:
Red & Green Kangaroo Paw
Orange Gem Kangaroo Paw
Green Machine Kangaroo Paw
Yellow Gem Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paws, or plants of the genus Anigozanthos, are an absolute delight to grow in your garden but to get the absolute best from them they must be pruned. Kangaroo Paws mostly flower during Spring and Summer, through some varieties start early in late winter. They grow great big, long stems and the flowers emerge at the top.

Pruning when in flower

There are a few good times that you can prune Kangaroo paws and the first is during flowering. My first tip in pruning Kangaroo Paws is to make sure you cut the flower stems right off as soon as the flowers are starting to look less appealing.

This pruning before the flowers have died entirely encourages the plant to produce new stems and flower again, giving you a second or sometimes if you are lucky even a third showing during a flowering season.

Clip the stems off at the base of the plant  and as with most pruning try and cut at a 45 degree angle. This reduces the risk of disease and pests causing trouble.

Doing this for every flower stem will both increase the health of the plant and also give you great flowers to boast about.

Pruning at the end of the flowering season

When your Kangaroo Paw has finished flowering (usually mid to late summer or early autumn) it is a very good idea to give it a solid prune.

The good thing about Kangaroo Paws is that most of what is important for it’s growth is under the ground.

The biggest tip for the post-flower pruning is to cut any growth with any ‘browness’ right out. Don’t just cut the tip off, take the whole lot off right down to the base.

I once read somewhere of a gardener who likes to use a lawn mower to ‘prune’ his Kangaroo Paws. Though I do not myself advocate this practice…it does likely work!

I like to be a little more tender and delicate in my pruning, but the principle still stands, pruning Kangaroo Paws hard at the end of their flowering season will bring best results in subsequent seasons.

Just try to leave the very new/very green shoots or around 1/3rd of the plant where possible.

So there you have it. Kangaroo Paws are a pleasure to grow and they are pretty much brown thumb proof.

Pruning Kangaroo Paws is not terribly difficult because you really would struggle to be too harsh in pruning them. Good luck and I hope this helps!

Don’t forget I’ve made a special, comprehensive Kangaroo Paw guide, which is free to download – just click the blue button for all you need to know about the Kangaroo Paw!

So You Want A Better Garden?

All my best articles have been collected into what I’m calling the ultimate gardening toolkit – make sure you take a look, there’s a heap of great gardening advice available.

I’ve also published a series of gardening ebooks that you might be interested in. Good luck!

34 comments… add one

  • John Anderson

    My 2 small bush gem kangaroo paws are not looking two good since i pruned them right back as suggested after flowering. Can I use any fertiliser on them or just let them make their own way back. Hoping you can help J. A.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Could you take a photo and send it my way?

    You can absolutely fertilise them and they ‘should’ come back looking good now with the spring season. Just make sure you use a native fertiliser as Kangaroo Paws are very susceptible to phosphorous.

  • Kangarut

    I have a Red Kangaroo Paw. No idea what the name of it is. I have it growing in a very large pot in full sun. I live in the Lokyer Valley in Queensland and have had the plant for just on 12 months now. Since planting it has flowered prolifically and constantly even during the flooding of early 2011. It is now about 1 metre tall and about 1 metre circumfrance. We have very mild winters here and no frost. Summer is very humid and hot, yet it keeps flowering. I cut back the flowers as they fade. Should I just keep doing this or should I be more brutal and prune it right to the ground? I don’t like to think that I may ruin what is a beautiful and prolific plant.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    To be honest it *should* be fine, but I can’t make any guarantees.

    What you might like to try is a happy medium. Perhaps gradually trim it further after each flower? If it is getting too big, you’ll need to trim it anyway. Just trim a little more off each time until it is back to what you’d like it to be. This would be the safest bet.

  • Newtown woman

    Hi I didn’t know about this pruning thing and have just left the long stem and flower on after it faded last autumn. It is now nearly NOvember…is it too late to prune it? It is on a west-facing balcony in the middle of Sydney. I’ve started fertilising it with organic fertiliser (fish-based), is that OK too?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Not too late to remove the old flower stem but I wouldn’t give the rest of the plant too much of a prune. It won’t hurt to have missed it, just wait till after this seasons flowers and prune it properly afterwards :)

  • Lynne

    Hi, I have just moved into the SOuthern Highlands south of Sydney. I have about 6 large Kargaroo Paws plants (Red, Yellow and green). They have got to big in their current location and I would like to relocate them. I moved two to the front garden from the back, whilst in flower, it looks like they have both died. When can I relocate the others?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Check out http://www.gardenguide.com.au/d1397/transplanting-kangaroo-paw-plants for some tips on successfully transplanting Kangaroo Paws :)

  • jo

    Hi There gardener, I have just cut down my flowers off my paws and now i wounder should I fed them some food ??????? Im in Geraldton WA what is your best thoughts…….. thanks

  • jo

    Hi there Aussie thumb I have just cut down the flowers off my paws, should I give them some food or wait for the cooler weather….. Im in Geraldton WA thanks for your comment……..JO

  • aussiegreenthumb

    If they’ve finished flowering, which is sounds like they have given you have cut the flowers off, now would be a fine time to give them a light feed with a good native fertiliser. :)

  • Ross

    Hi We have just moved to a new house in Wilton NSW and are planting our native garden. We have put in Kangaroo paws and some still have flowers on them, is it too early to prune them back hard as they have only been in for a week.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    I’d leave them a while to allow them to settle into their new environment. Trim off any flowers when they die but other than that, don’t be too harsh on them. After the next flowering season you can give them a stronger prune.

  • Sally

    Hi there… we have a couple of kangaroo paws in our garden as i absolutely love them… reading the above it sounds like it might be too late for me to prune them back this year…? Should i wait until the of the next flowering season or would it be okay for me to prune them now – albeit late? we live in Perth… Thanks for your advice… Cheers, Sally

  • Dot Stephens

    when is it the best time to repot your kangaroo paw ?

  • Ceri Veronique

    Hi there, I live in Johannesburg in South Africa. I was given a beautiful red Kangaroo Paw (sadly not sure which one) in a pot as a gift a few years back and it flowered profusely for 2 years and then just stopped! Still has lush foliage, though.

    We have dry, cold winters with frost (around 5 degrees Celsius in mid-winter, but can drop below freezing) and wet, hot summers (25 – 30 degrees Celsius).

    I have never pruned them and suspect that, that could be the missing clue. What do you recommend? Is it too late already (today the high was around 17, but it will get down to nearly freezing tonight). Am I too late to get chopping now?

    thanks

  • aussiegreenthumb

    I wouldn’t be pruning it now with frost being a possibility. Wait until spring/the warmer months get closes, then give it a light prune to encourage growth (and hopefully flowering) this summer!

    It may also need a good fertiliser to get it going. Make sure you use one low in phosphorous because Australian soils lack this and therefore Aussie plants are not used to it in high doses.

    Hope that helps!

  • Ceri Veronique

    Wow thanks! That really helped to at least give me an action plan. Will hold out till September..

  • Cherry

    How long before I can expect flowers from healthy seedlings of Anigozanthus?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    I’m afraid I have never actually grown Kangaroo Paw from seedling. Did you buy them from a native nursery? I’d ask them. If not, just look up a native nursery in your area (preferably one that grows their own stock) and they should be able to help you out.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Sorry for the slow reply, this comment slipped through!

    By now you’ve probably made a decision but it would have been ok to give it a very light prune then. Making sure dead foliage and flowers removed is fine any time.

  • Jennifer

    I am from California and just planted some kangaroo paw plants. The all have long flower stocks that are about 3-1/2 feet high. many of them have fallen over. Is it OK to stake them until they finish blooming? Once they finish blooming, do I prune the entire stock back to the green leaves?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Hey,

    Absolutely it is fine to stake them till they finish blooming, though I am surprised to hear they are falling over? None the less, that will be fine.

    When this happens yes, prune the spent flowers off right at the green leaves :)

  • Michelle

    Hi,
    I have 3 kangaroo paws and am experiencing a problem with the flower. They grow up to the point that they look as though they should be about to open. Then they seem to dry out and die before opening.
    I live in Sydney. They are planted in a sandy soil in a position where they are in sun throughout the afternoon. I am giving them plenty of water but not too much.
    Thanks for your advice,
    Michelle

  • bonnnie

    Hi I have 2 kangaroo paws in my garden after they flowered I cut them right down to the ground as tolde by 2 of my work colleagues and they have not shown annsigns of greenery or look like they are gonna gro again. Could you please give me any ideas on how to get them up and growing again!!!!

  • Darla

    Hi there. I am from Canada. I bought my Kangaroo Paw plant about three years ago. What I am wondering is will it eventually adapt to summer /winter here or does it keep summer /winter seasons of its origin? I seem to get flowers at any time It flowered in the beginning of April. But it has also flowered in October. I do have problems with die back. Is that normal? Also , I read that it can grow very large. I have been keeping it in 6 inch pots, and it is a nice manageable house plant, but if it does grow bigger I would like that.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Hey, great to hear that someone as far North as Canada is giving a Kangaroo Paw a home.

    It should adapt to the seasons that it is growing in. It gets cues from the weather as to what is going on, so in that regard it should follow the Canadian seasons. However, it is not uncommon for them to flower in spring and autumn (what you described) as opposed to summer, depending on the conditions.

    Depending on the variety they can grow very large but it really depends on the variety. There are also quite a few small varieties. It wouldn’t hurt to try a bigger pot to see if that allows it to grow more. How big are the flower shoots usually? That would give some indicator. The big varieties usually have really big flower shoots.

  • Darla

    The flowers grow on 10-inch stems, and the flower is like a paw spanning about 2 inches. Leaves are maybe about a foot long and half an inch wide. I have to say I just love it and everyone who sees it in bloom is taken by it too. We don’t have anything like it here. Sounds like I may have a small variety.

  • Fred

    Hi, I transplanted a lot of kangaroo paws just over a year ago and of the 40 or more roots most survived. Several, 12 or more, flowered and I left the flowers on until a few weeks ago as the birds used them as perches so that they could have a good look around before drinking from the bird bath. I now have a good bed of kangaroo paws and the leaves have brown tips but otherwise look healthy.
    My questions are:
    1 Should I prune them now?
    2 If so then how hard?
    3 When should they be fed and what should I feed them?

  • doug

    Hey I asked my local native plant nursery how to prune my kangaroo paw.in Autumn. He told me to run the mower over it when mowing the lawn.
    Result That was three years ago and never saw a leaf since.
    Good one I really did want it.

  • Lorrie, Kardinya WA

    Hello…question please…I have noticed that this year my kanga paw has developed some sort of new foliage on a flower stem that I didn’t get round to cutting off. It looks like a baby kanga paw. How can I propagate these ‘growths’…have tried unsuccessfully to cut them off and pot them up but they all died….still got a couple left though and would like to try another approach…any advice please.

  • Katie

    Hi there,
    I’ve just pruned off the dead flower stalks (monsters that they were!). I know this pruning was a bit late… it was a matter of “I’ll do it next weekend.” Is it also too late (21st May) to give the rest of the plant a good prune? They are starting to look a bit scruffy with a lot of brown tips and I’d love to clean them up. I am also hoping to split one of the bigger ones to replace one that had died. Will this be ok now too? I’m in Melbourne. Thanks

  • Hey Katie,
    Nice work with the pruning, always good to hear that gardeners out there are getting their hands dirty so to speak and looking after their plants, although it sounds like you are pretty much in control just not enough time on your hands!

    The plant should be fine at this time of year as long as you give it a bit of TLC after separating i.e. don’t just forget about it or leave it til next weekend to check on how it is taking :) Good luck with it and I’d love to hear back from you in a couple of months just to see how things are going, send through some photos if you like and I’ll post them up on the website as a bit of a guide for others, if you’re interested.

    Cheers

  • Anne

    I live in foothills of Adelaide – north of the city – have just moved and put in a kangaroo paw in 2013 and it hasn’t stopped flowering! it is in a north facing position in full sun and even the frosts haven’t hurt it. My other attempts of growing them have always failed!

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