Kangaroo paw plants (Anigozanthos spp.) have long green leaves and finely textured flowering stems in tones of green, red or yellow. These perennial Australian natives grow in warm soil with a sandy composition that drains quickly. Although these plants are drought tolerant, summer watering can extend the flowering period. Tall kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos flavidus) is the one you're most likely to find and it grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Choosing a Spot
Kangaroo paws grow in open, sunny sites, where water drains quickly through soil consisting mainly of sand or gravel. The plants are susceptible to frost damage, but planting them close to the south-facing side of a building offers some protection from cold damage in USDA zone 9.
Caring for Paws
Kangaroo paws need little or no fertilizer, but you can improve their growth with a slow-release 12-4-8 fertilizer spread over the soil around the plant at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 square foot. Apply the fertilizer once every three months or according to label instructions. Removing the fans of flowers helps stimulate growth because each fan of flowers only blooms once. Remove the fans when they start to wilt.
Watering Kangaroo Paws
Species of kangaroo paw plants other than tall kangaroo paw are adapted to periods of summer drought and enter a period of dormancy unless they are watered daily. Daily drip irrigation from a soaker hose will prevent kangaroo paw from going dormant in summer but will also shorten its lifespan considerably. Once a kangaroo paw has entered dormancy, watering it quickly rots the plant.
Snails can cause serious damage to kangaroo paws. Snails hide during the day and feed at night. Look for cool, dark places beneath landscaping timbers, boards and rocks that could provide shelter for snails near your kangaroo paws and remove them. Eliminating snails' habitat and regularly removing the pests by hand are a simple and effective way to control snails on kangaroo paws. Check your plants for the slimy trails each day until their numbers decline and then continue checking them weekly.
Treating Fungal Diseases
Kangaroo paws are susceptible to ink spot, which is a fungal infection that blackens flower stems and leaves, beginning at the leaf tips. Spacing plants further apart, keeping them in good health and avoiding overwatering help prevent this disease from taking hold in kangaroo paws. You can treat plants that are already infected using a foliar fungicidal spray containing mancozeb. Add 3 teaspoons of mancozeb for every 1 gallon of water you plan to use. Add the fungicide to the sprayer's tank before the water to ensure it mixes properly. Wearing chemical-resistant gloves, pants and a long-sleeved shirt while mixing and spraying will reduce accidental contact with the fungicide. Mancozeb is most effective when used to thoroughly coat foliage of affected plants once every seven to 10 days throughout the growing season.