Articles & Advice


04 Sep 2015

Grass Tree

The Grass Tree is an impressive feature in any home.  Xanthorrhoea, more commonly called Grass Trees or Balga (meaning ‘Black Boy’ in some local dialects), are native to Australia.  We stock the Xanthorrhoea johnsonii variety which typically features a blackened trunk from bushfires and thin green leaves. Generally they have a white collar which indicates several years since the last fire.  The leaves are cut when the trees are potted so the plant can concentrate on new root growth. 

A long flower spear shoots up from time to time.  The flowering process is such a huge effort for the plant, that it may not show any sign of new growth for several months and sometimes longer.

In poor bush soil the trunk will grow approximately 1cm a year so a tree with a metre trunk could be 100 years old.  In better soils, growth is much faster.  These trees really are outstanding specimens.

Grass Trees are a protected species and it is illegal to remove them from the ground without statutory consent.  Each Grass Tree comes with an individual Government Conservation Tag and we source straight from licensed harvesters.  We know you will love your Grass Tree as each is unique and special to you.

Planting your Grass Trees

A little care and planning in the beginning will result in a happy plant that requires minimal maintenance and water.

Follow these instructions as you will be rewarded for many years to come:

  • Plant in a sunny position.
  • Ensure soil is free draining.  These trees are often found growing on slopes or sides of hills.  This indicates they like good drainage and will put up with poor rocky soil conditions.  However, they do appreciate the better soil and water they received in the garden.  If the ground is clay, plant above ground level in a raised mound or raised bed to prevent root rot due to excess moisture. 
  • When planting, dig the hole first and then cut the pot off the tree.  This way you retain as much of the original soil with minimal root disturbance.
  • Make sure the plant is stable after planting then water in well ensuring there are no air pockets around the root ball.

Caring for Grass Trees

  • Grass Trees are drought tolerant.  After planting the tree will need regular water until the roots settle and grow.  Plants of approximately 1-2 metres require about 30-50 litres of water per week, depending on your plant size and conditions.  Naturally plants in clay soil will require less water so reduce the amount by half.
  • Even established planted Grass Trees will benefit from watering during dry periods.  This includes winter as we can often have dry winters in Melbourne.
  • Grass Trees in pots must be watered more regularly.  If you are at all concerned about your individual requirements as all conditions vary, seek professional advice from our staff.

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