The Kangaroo Paw Family - Propagation

Introduction

Propagation of members of the Haemodoraceae is generally by seed or by division of clumps. There is, however, only limited information available on the propagation of some genera.

Because of the popularity of kangaroo paws in cultivation, many cultivars and hybrids have become available. With these, propagation by division of the clumps is preferred to ensure that plants with desirable characteristics of form, flower colour or hardiness are perpetuated (plants propagated from seed may show variations in these characteristics). Commercially, these cultivars and hybrids are often reproduced by tissue culture.

Seed

Seed of many species of Anigozanthos is available from commercial suppliers but seed of other genera is rarely available.

Seed is usually sown without any pre-treatment using conventional seed raising methods. The simplest method is to sow the seed normally in a punnet or pot, cover it lightly and keep moist until germination occurs. This may take a few weeks up to a month or more. Once seedlings have appeared they can be carefully transfered into tubes or small pots in a potting mix designed for Australian native plants.

Another method that has been successful for at least some species is the use of smoke or "smoked water" as a pretreatment. This has been successful in the germination of species of Anigozanthos, Blancoa, Conostylis, Haemodorum and Macropidia and may have practical application for the home propagator. Further information on this procedure is available in the article Smoke Stimulates the Germination of Many Western Australian Plants (see Further Information) and from the Regen 2000 web site.

It should be noted that most hybrids are sterile and do not produce seed.

Division of Clumps

Division is the easiest way of propagating from established plants and is most successful with the more vigorous kangaroo paws such as Anigozanthos flavidus and its hybrids.

Clumps are best divided in autumn but other times are also successful - division in the heat of summer will require adequate protection of the divisions until they have re-established. Clumps can be lifted with a garden fork and, using a tool such as an old bread knife, sections can be from the clump - each section should contain at least three large shoots to give the maximum chance of success. It is advisable to cut all the leaves back by about a third and plant in a well drained potting mix in a suitable container so that the shoots are at the same level as they were originally. Place the newly potted plants in a sheltered position until new leaf growth is well advanced and roots are starting to come out of the drainage holes. They are then ready for planting in the garden.

If only one or two new plants are needed, large clumps can be split into 2 or 3 divisions and replanted directly into new locations in the garden - ensure the divisions are well watered while they establish themselves in their new locations.

It is also possible to divide clumps into sections containing only a single shoot and some roots - in this case the small divisions are potted up into small pots and placed in a glasshouse or similar humid environment until new root growth occurs. They can then be gradually hardened off and potted into larger containers.

Conostylis species seem to be more difficult to divide successfully than Anigozanthos. With Conostylis, best results will probably be with larger divisions.

Tissue Culture

Tissue culture is a plant propagation method that uses plant cells taken from stems, leaves, or other parts of a parent plant to produce new plants. The cells are placed on a nutrient medium under sterile conditions in a laboratory. Using this method, large numbers of clones of the original plant can be produced quickly.

Although this is not a procedure that is practical for the home gardener, it is an important propagation method, particularly with Anigozanthos and Macropidia. Virtually all of the colourful kangaroo paw hybrids that are available in nurseries are produced using this method.

General Propagation

Further details on general plant propagation can be found at the Society's Plant Propagation Pages.


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