Growing a grass tree – Xanthorrhoea sp

Five years ago we put in some paths for disabled access so we could bring my mother-in-law home from her nursing home for regular day trips and in the process we added a new section that was made up using larger smooth rocks near my studio shed. I bought a Grass tree – Xanthorrhoea sp from a local nursery – I think it is Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. Grass trees are nortorious for being slow growing but this particular species is from this area and grows more quickly That being said it has been five years but this year we finally got our first flower stalk!

I love these plants!! The spiky long thin leaves can swirl in amazing patterns and have a blue/green tinge about them. But when the flower stalk emerges their true architectural quality can be seen. Here are some photos of the stalk emerging from the spiky ball.

Slowly the stalk gains height and eventually it erupts in tiny nectar laden white flowers that attract birds and insects. Unfortunately I was away for the actual flowering of my own Grass tree but I took these photos last year at a friends place of their grass tree flowers.

Eventually after the flowers all emerge – from the base of the flower head upwards, the stalk gets covered in spiky seed pods.

These eventually fade and the ‘kangaroo tail’ as they are often called are left to whither and fall off until they are replaced by a new flower stalk to begin again.

I am hoping that mine flowers again next year and I will be here to see the actual flowers – maybe I will even get more than one stalk this time!

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