Australian flora has for countless years been compelled to withstand frequent periods of drought and fire. Added to that, much of the soil is acid and apt to destroy seed or at least give poor conditions for germination.
Nature’s way to remedy such weaknesses has been, in many instances, to harden the protective covering of seeds, making it possible for them to withstand drought, fire, and acidity.
Sturt’s desert pea
Some refuse to germinate unless subjected to heat, even fire, which causes the outer husk or testa to crack and allow moisture to enter. Prominent among these is the seed of the strangely beautiful Sturt’s desert pea, Clianthus formosus.
To get best results soak the seeds in a cup containing about an inch of almost boiling water and allow them to stand all night before sowing in virgin sandy soil of good quality. Don’t transplant.
Boronia ledifolia (Sydney boronia) grows to 3 feet and flowers in June. It is suited to medium or light soil.
Flannel flowers, Actinotus helianthi (the N.S.W. variety) and Actinotus leucocephalus (W.A.) require sandy loams, preferably over rock where the lower soil is almost peaty and rarely dries out. Sow direct.
Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos manglesii and varieties) are a native of Western Australia. They are among our most distinctive flowers and are found in no other country. The red-and-green kangaroo paw (manglesii) is the most attractive, but dislikes cool districts.
One of the hardiest is the yellow kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos Yellow Gem, which has yellowish to pale green flowers, the stems of which are often very fluffy. There is also a reddish variety, Anigozanthos Big Red. The Anigozanthos Yellow Gem grows to 8 feet or more when in bloom.
The green paw, Anigozanthos viridis Green Dragon, grows to about 4 feet but the flower stems are often taller.
Seeds of kangaroo paws can be germinated by sowing in sandy loam and covering with an inch of dry grass or dead leaves and then setting fire to this cover. Water immediately.