Xanthorrhoea species (Grass Trees)

Xanthorrhoea priessii is a Western Australian species. This species was one of the plants used by the winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata and Xanthorrhoea semiplana are the South Australian species of Grass Tree.

At an Arboretum near here, Xanthorrhoea preissii and Xanthorrhoea semiplana have both been planted on deep sand. After four years of growth in the ground, the cluster of leaves is about 60cm tall and beginning to ‘vase’ out in a very graceful way. The width of the clump is larger than the reach of two hands joined finger tip to finger tip as if holding a large bunch of flowers.

It is certainly worth while growing these for the leaf display if this is what the growth is like after 4 years. Xanthorrhoea semiplana generally does not make a trunk although sometimes one up to a metre will appear, whereas the other does to about 3 metres tall. However to see a ‘decent’ trunk on Xanthorrhoea semiplana in one’s lifetime is probably only to be dreamed about!

Xanthorrhoea need a sunny well drained position. They look wonderful growing in a rockery and will also look great in a large pot as an impressive feature plant. Specimens have flowered after 7 years in Brisbane and 10 years at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

It has been discovered that the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos love the seed pods that form along the flower stem which can be as much as 4-5 metres tall. They have been observed eating them soon after sunrise between Tintinara and Keith on the side of the road.


122 Responses to “Xanthorrhoea species (Grass Trees)”

  1. […] Xanthorrhoea species (Grass Tree) from Kalbarri WA .Photo by Jeff A friend, Jeff, emailed this photo to me wondering about the botanical name (which he found for himself before I had read his email.) He said the photo was taken at Kalbarri in WA so I thought it probably was specifically Xanthorrhoea priessii when I looked up a reference. Then I realised that I had called the trunkless species by this name in a previous post. […]

    • lorraine says:

      put them in a sandy gravely soil on a mound or slope must be very well drained in a sunny spot,dont trim them,if you are moving it from the ground to another spot do not disturb that root system at all,if you can hire a backhoe to dig it out these trees a re very funny when it comes to moving them,like I said take as much soil with it around the root system as you can,i would not even attempt to do it by hand as you will disturb them too much and no native plant likes to be moved.

  2. katrina says:

    CAn you please give me some feedback to help me with a successful transplantation of semi mature grass trees. What will help them survive?
    I would be really greatful of some advice to keep them alive. They look great, what will help me keep them going?
    Do I need to cut them back?

  3. […] After the grasses seminar we went to Cromer Conservation Park for a picnic lunch. Husband had been bird watching there and was distracted by the great display of wildflowers. There were a number of these Xanthorrhoea plants in flower. They were growing on deep very well drained sand. […]

  4. Corinne says:

    Every plant that I have seen ready for transplanting has had the leaves trimmed to around 30cm or less, I assume to reduce transpiration stress.

    They do not have an extensive root system. They need good drainage, so raise the planting spot if needed, and give it an open sunny aspect. Keep moist but not soggy, so test the soil in the top 4-5cm for dryness before watering again. I think a mulch of small gravel or course sand, failing that, leaf litter to retain moisture during the summer and keep soil temperature from extremes while the plant is establishing is a good idea.

  5. Jamie says:

    I am wanting to find out a little infomation in regards to a blackboy plant that i have in my backyard. The plant is about 6 years old, and this year was the first time it flowered. The plant has always been extremely healthy, but within 1 week it looks like it has started to die. I am unsure if it has to do with the large 8ft flower, if that is draining the plant, do not know if to cut the flower off, or if it is normal for the plant to go brown, which i would doubt, as all the foilage has drooped down to the ground and not standing up. Nothing has really changed in its environment, only climate.

    Your help would be much appreciated, as it would be a shame to see this beautiful plant die.

  6. Corinne says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I have not heard of Xanthorrhoea dying off like you describe. I wonder if you have changed your watering pattern and the plant has received too much water and the drainage is not as good as it was. It seems from everything I have read that good drainage is very important.What a shame to lose a plant so well grown and at flowering stage. It is probably worth while excavating around the plant reasonably close to the trunk to check moisture levels. The root system is not extensive. You may be able to save the plant by cutting foliage back heavily and transplanting into a postion with improved drainage.

  7. nigel says:

    I would like some information please. We have a Blackboy tree that is 4 metres tall and the trunk is about 2 metres. We know that it must be really old. The 5 heads have been dropping off over the last 3 years. On inspection down the arm where the head fell of it appears brown and muddy. Is this normal? and is the trunk hollow? It would be a shame to loose it.


  8. Corinne says:

    It sounds like you have rot in the stems as what you describe is not normal. I would cut below the rot area until you come to solid stem and treat the area with a fungicide such as ‘Fongarid’ or some thing that is available for painting on fruit trees that suffer collar rot. Wash whatever you make the cuts with in disinfectant.

    I wonder if the tree is under the canopy of other trees which drop leaf litter and bark? If so and it is possible cut back the overhanging branches. In any case I would regularly clean leaf litter from the crowns. Has the drainage around the root zone of your tree changed? It would be a shame to lose such a well grown tree.

  9. nigel says:

    Hi Connie, thanks for your reply does the collar rot progress down the whole trunk of the tree, as it is a very large grass tree. There is no overhanging trees and the drainage system hasnt changed. If you lean on the trunk the whole tree wobbles is it usually that moveable. Would controlled burning be of any benefit we havent tried this we have been in the house for nearly 4 years and the tree was here when we moved in. As you say we would hate to loose such an old tree, and it is a great feature in our garden.



  10. Mark says:


    I’m living in Switzerland. 1 year ago I brought me a blackboy tree. It’s a beauty! Now, since about 3 month, 3 young xanthorreas are growing up realy quick from the ground. They now about 35 cm tall. The mother plant is about 100cm tall. Is it a good or a bad sign? I know, in Switzerland we have a complet different clima than in Australia. Can you give me a few hints for our special cold clima? Thanks a lot for your help!

  11. Zoe says:


    I have bought a property with some established black boys. Do they actually need pruning?

    Thanks for your help.

    • lorraine says:

      the thing about these blackboys is ya don’t touch them at all,but you can trim all the dead leaves of if that’s what you mean by pruning,we burn our dead leaves of and they love that every few years,apart from that we don’t touch it at all and we let the rain water it but grow blackboys in the right soil up on a bit of a mound or in between rock,they don’t like water sitting around them at all and never put them in a clay soil,must be a sandy gravely type soil

  12. Corinne says:

    I have never heard of a need to prune other than to tidy the leaves perhaps when any die off. You also may like to remove the old flower spikes. Lucky you to have established plants.

  13. Zoe says:

    Thanks for your reply Corinne. One last thing, we notice that some people burn the trunk of these trees. Do you recommend this?

  14. Tom says:

    Hi, I’ve just returned from a trip to the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia and was particularly impressed with the number of Xanthorrhoea Semiplana in the Deep Creek Conservation Park. I know they are extremely slow growing but want to buy some seeds and try growing them in Melbourne. Any ideas where I can buy these? I’m a little skeptical of overseas sites so a local site (ie Vic or SA) would be great. Thanks for your help, Tom

  15. ralph says:

    Hi, I am about to plant a 300lt xanthorrhoea preissi in an awkward site. It may loose a lot of soil from the root during this process. How much lost of soil would be detrimental to it survival? Thanks, Ralph

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Ralph,
      I don’t have an answer for you on that problem. The plants do not have an extensive root system, however the weight of the root ball with soil could break the roots from the stem. If you can, get a tarp around the roots and lift/drag the plant by that, place in the hole, and slide the plant from the tarp. If a lot of roots are uncovered or broken, cut some of the foliage back. If it is going to be hot in your locality, I suggest a temporary cover with shade cloth, or a sheet/curtain. Keep the soil damp, not wet.

  16. anita says:


    we had two blackboys planted in Jan this year, one 3m plus and one 2m high, they are planted near each other in a V shape. The taller one is excellent, the smaller one’s foliage has gone dead but has some minor new green foliage in the middle. i cut back the dead foliage today and noticed that its quite moist in the middle and the foliage can be easily pulled out, what does this mean? the landscaper said to water 3-4times a week and on top to help hydrate it. What do you recommend? Is their rot in the top?


    • lorraine says:

      we burn ours after they finish seeding,they will look a bit sick for a few weeks but them they grow back better than ever,ours had one trunk before we burnt it now it has two looks a lot better after the burn,we set it alight with a blow torch and just let it burn like it would in a natural fire.

  17. Jenny Dee says:

    Could you please let me know how to prune my grass tree or black boys as I’ve known them to be. I dont know what species they are.They were given to me as a gift.I have about 3. They must be at least 16-17 yrs old I’ve had them now for 14 yrs. Their trunk is short with lots of long grass like spikes all around. Can the grass be burnt and when do I do it so it looks like a black boy. The grass is very long and now they have their long spikes with seeds on them the birds love them. Please reply when convenient
    Thanking you in anticipation ……….Wally

  18. Serenity says:

    Hi there,

    we were given a “blackboy as a present about two years ago, it is about a metre high and at the start the grass was sticking up and it looked really happy. It was in a spot in the shade and had the water from the drain dripping down onto it which it surprisingly seemed to love. We moved about 7 months ago and the day we moved the grass wilted and all of the new re growth does the same thing. On the grass there are tiny dark brown marks and after just having a good look there seems to be some kind of ants nest in there?
    It is very dry and in a big pot and out of direct sunlight. Are all of these features normal as we have never had a “blackboy” before??

    cant wait to hear back. Serenity

    • Corinne says:

      It sounds to me like a fungal condition in the root zone. Are there any ants in the nest? Any signs of other tiny creatures? If the soil is moist, hold off more watering until dry at 3-4 cm depth from the surface. Check that the soil in the pot has not become non-wetting. Soil wetting granules will solve that. Follow packet directions. Unless it is a species from a swampy area, grass trees need very good drainage. In a pot, the plant would need moisture, but it is possible to overwater. I would use a seaweed solution and water around the rootzone and over the leaves to try to stimulate more root growth. (Follow directions on the container.) Grass trees generally prefer open sunny conditions, but if the plant is stressed, keep it in a sheltered position, with good light and possibly some morning sun. If ants are present, treat them and find the origin of the ants’ nest. They will often take over a pot.

  19. Serenity says:

    Great thank you so much. I couldn’t find any other little creatures and we have gotten rid of the ants and i cut back the grass. It looks 100% healthier now. We will do the granules and the seaweed solution.
    thanks again


  20. gavin says:

    I have about 50 Xanthorrhoea seedlings about 2 months old in pots. I wont be planting them in out for maybe 2 years, what are the do’s and don’ts of making sure they survive?

  21. Corinne says:

    he main thing to do is use deep pots, eg milk cartons with the bottom corners cut off for drainage. Be aware that they weaken with age, but if you have the plants in a box that will hold everything together until you are ready to plant out. You can plant them out sooner, and put a rock or stake beside each plant so that you keep track of them. You can buy long black plastic pots which have root trainers. They are about the size and shape of milk cartons.

  22. gavin says:

    Thank you Corinne, that sounds like excellent advice, when I plant them out would I take them out of the milk carton or leave it in and let the carton decompose naturally,
    thanks a lot

  23. Corinne says:

    Tear the milk carton away, or up end, according to how tight the cartons feel. Even though they disintegrate, it takes a while and you really want the roots to establish and spread as quickly as possible to take advantage of available moisture.

  24. Kylie says:

    We have a black boy plant in out front yard, which grew a large stalk out of it and flowered during the warmer months. The large stalk (apporx 2 feet tall) is now very dark brown and seems to be weighing the plant itself down a bit, and not looking too healthy. Should we be cutting this off? What happens to the stalk if we just leave it?
    Thanks in advance to any replies:-)

    • Corinne says:

      I obviously lost track of time with this. I hope you realised that it was ok to remove the old flower stalk. The stalks become interesting things on the plant, but you are probably better off cutting them off eventually so that the next flower stalk comes through without distortion. In the wild you find some old stalks on the ground, and some insect damage on the ones on the plant.

  25. Sunil says:

    I planted 4 grass tress this year and 3 of them now have sprung these big flower stems, which is growing very fast.

    What is the normal maintenance required when these flowers appear – should it be cut back to the stem as it may attract pests ? or should I leave the flower as it is.

    • Corinne says:

      You are so lucky! How wonderful to have flowers stems forming. You have nothing to but watch this amazing thing unfold before you. The birds will visit the flowers when they form and open, and this is how pollination occurs. When the flowers finish you have a couple of choices: leave the flower stem as a curio for a while before you cut it off near the leaves, or cut it off as as soon as the flowers have finished. Sometimes you see a distorted flower stem and I believe that insect damage may cause this. However these are often seen as interesting variations when seen in the wild.

  26. JEN says:


    • Corinne says:

      It is possible that the plant is not dead. In a pot the rule is to check the moisture 3-4 cm below the surface. If it is dry, then water. The idea is to water thoroughly then check and water as needed. Plants in pots that dry out completely have no source of regaining moisture unless they are outside where it rains regularly. I would move it to where it gets a lot of light. They do not grow under trees in the wild, but need full light and sun. Water the pot with a seaweed solution to help stimulate new root growth, following directions on the container. Make sure the potting mix is actually getting wet when you water it as many potting mixes become water repelling when they are allowed to dry out. This causes water to run down the sides of the pot and not actually soak into the mix. If you find any soft or soggy spots on the stem or crown or around the base of the stem water with a fungicide. Other than species that grow naturally in swampy areas, grass trees are in general quite frost hardy, so should not need to be in a heated area. You should see some response as you move into your autumn.

  27. Grant says:

    Will my a Xanthorrhoea johnsonii regrow a flower? My tree grew a flower stalk last spring which was something special, but unfortunately i came home today and the stalk was broken of at the base.
    If it will regrow a new stalk is there anything i need to do to promot the growth a of a new one?

  28. Zoe says:

    I have a blackboy that flowered this year. Very impressive. We want to tidy it up, do I burn the undergrowth of the blackboy to tidy it up. Do I burn the trunk / leaves ??? And if so how do I go about it?

  29. Emma says:

    We have a beautiful massive grass tree in our front yard. Unfortunately it appears to be dying. The skirt has turned very yellow and the top has black spots on it.

    I’m wondering if this is normal due to a change is season or if it is indeed dying..? Any help at all would be great… It’s such s beautiful plant and I love it… I would hate to see it die


    • Corinne says:

      Do you have the green tufts of leaves at the top of the plant? If those have gone then I suggest that you kave lost the plant. If you have green leaves above the yellow there is still hope. Cut off the yellowed leaves. The black spots suggest fungal disease and an unthrifty plant. Try a fungicide (ask at garden centre) on the leaves, water the root zone with seaweed solution to stimulate root growth and check the drainage around the plant. It may have been too wet for too long. If your soil is heavy, poke a fork into the ground around the trunk and sprinkle with gypsum, 1 Kg to the square metre, and water into the holes. This assists with opening up the soil around the root zone.

  30. Katrina Love says:

    You said “Xanthorrhoea preissii does not make a trunk, whereas the other does.”

    Xanthorrhoea preissii most certainly DOES grow a substantial trunk up to 3 metres!

    • Corinne says:

      You are correct! I just checked my books and must have muddled them at the time of writing. Thanks for letting me know. I have edited the original post. My plant of X semiplana is beginning to take off. I raised it from seed years ago.

  31. Sandra says:

    I have two mature grass trees about 2 metres high planted three years ago and gets most of the late morning sun.

    We have clay soil and have removed the pots when we planted (a big no no according to many websites)

    They was not much change for the for two years, then they produced their flower stalks but the never flowered, so I was told to cut them off to reduce any stress.

    One tree has not produced any new leaves at all but the other has, and they seem to be browning on the ends of the foliage, in fact, each time I trim the older leaves back to halfway, they seem to brown again even futher up the foliage. Even the new leaves are beginning to brown on the ends.

    I have treated them with Ground Breaker and Seasol in the past and have kept up their watering.

    Can you please advise why this is happening and how can I improve their health – I dont want to lose them as they’re a great feature.

    • Corinne says:

      Are you perhaps over watering? At this time of the year they shouldn’t need very much unless you missed out on winter rains. My source suggests it may be beneficial to use a fungicide to drench the soil around the rootzone, then use a seaweed type product that promotes root growth. You may have fungal issues around the rootzone.

    • lorraine says:

      get them out of that clay soil or they will eventually die,they like sandy gravely very weel drained soil,also build up a small hill to put them on if you look at these blackboys in the wild most grow inbetween rocks and little water and you usually find a lot growing on slopes,they hate and poor draining clay soils,it will kill them,they will also die if you pot them into normal potting mix,once you get them into the right soil and location as they do love the sun,just leave them well alone

    • lorraine says:

      its a big mistake a lot of people have growing blackboys they water them too much or feed them,just leave them alone and they grow very well.

      • Colin says:

        Lorraine your quite right…. Blackboys need little care, a well drained sand loam type soil is best. If burning be very careful as they are extremely difficult to put out and can get out of control if near a house or shed etc.

  32. grant stevens says:

    I bought a grass tree 1 week ago it is about 1 metre tall what i have notice is the tips have gone brown i have been watering it each day with a watering can around 10 litres each day it is in a garden which is a mix of organic black soil and river sand is this normal or is it just a reaction to being planted i water it in the first day with seasol.
    Please reply. See reply below about fungicides as well. Over watering can stimulate root rots.


    Grant Stevens

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Grant,
      Cease watering immediately, apart from a dose of seasol to help stimulate new root growth. You are drowning the plant. They are not palms. Wait until the ground around the base is dry to a depth of at least 3cm. (poke your finger into the soil to test it) before watering again. Hopefully there is still enough warmth in the soil to stimulate new roots.

  33. wayne says:

    I have a grass tree which grew a 1m stalk, the stalk has brown furry like?? on the top 300mm what should I do with this if anything?

  34. Andrew says:

    We have a large grasstree that has been damaged by a tree that was blown over in a recent storm. It has a trunk about 1m high and then three arms up to 2m long. Initially there didn’t seem to be any damage to the grasstree, but in recent weeks the arm where the bulk of the tree came to rest, has started to break apart. Am I right in thinking this will spell the end for the plant? I really hope it doesn’t as it must be pretty old, it flowers every year, and is a main feature in our garden.

    • Corinne says:

      I would have thought that if you cut the damaged arm back behind where it is breaking, using a saw, it might actually shoot again. My references say that after bush fire most grass trees will send out new shoots, so this could also happen after damage. Our species in SA don’t appear to develop arms like that so I don’t have first hand experience. It certainly would be a shame to lose such a large specimen.

  35. George says:

    We have a lovely black boy that we have ared r for almost 5 years. The leaves have just flopped and look rather yellow .this happened after some high winds and rain.
    Can you advise?

  36. Tracey says:

    Hi, we have just trimmed back all the brown leaves on our grass tree only to discover the centre where the 2 heads meet started falling away and it’s riddled with black ants. This area is dry not wet. The tree is doing really well it was here when we moved in 4yrs ago & has given us 3 flower stalks every year. Should we pull away what is loose anyway and how do we get rid of the ants.
    Thanks for any help you can give.

    • Corinne says:

      If you have a trail of ants use a product which is now available designed to prevent ants getting up trees. I can’t recall the name. I heard about it on local radio gardening programme. (Use an ant powder or vinegar etc in any ant nests nearby.)

      The ant powder should also get rid of the ants in the grass tree, or try spraying a vinegar solution. A friend used ordinary crawling insect spray once.

      Pull away the loose material. How wonderful to have 3 spikes each year.

  37. Craig Cook says:

    I moved a large two headed plant 8 months ago and the leaves started to brown soon after , I was told to sprinkle brown sugar around the base and keep moist , well it worked a treat so well in fact the leaves have regenerated and now I have a flower stalk about half a metre high.

  38. Judith Lamoon says:

    Hi’ I have a grass tree and it was given to me it is doing really well and looks terrific but there is, black egg things on the grass stems, can you give advise how to get rid of this.
    Hope you can help.
    Regards Judith

    • Corinne says:

      Are they something like scale? If you crush them it will appear as a ‘body’. If it is scale you can get a product that smothers them, like white oil. Otherwise possibly droppings from a caterpillar? Unless it is doing damage let the rain remove it.

  39. Tania says:

    Hi I have a grass tree that I planted 2 years ago that is nearly a metre tall always green top until yesterday I went out after we have had a lot of rain this past week and the top just fell off!! What causes this? Can I fix it? I’m devastated 🙁

    • Corinne says:

      This sounds like a case of rot. Check the spot where the top came away. If it is mushy I suspect that is the issue. Use a fungicide. Check the drainage around the base of the plant. If your soil is heavy add gypsum at the recommended rate. Some grass trees naturally grow in swampy areas but most require good drainage. Watering the root zone with a seaweed product like Seasol helps to stimulate root growth.

    • Kirrilli says:

      Hi Tania,
      I was wondering if you were able to save your grass tree?
      The same thing happened to ours last night 🙁

  40. Greg says:

    I have a blackboy in a pot an the the grass leaves are sagging and do no not have the effect of my other blackboys. Please help.

    • Corinne says:

      Because the plant is in a pot I have to suspect over watering which is easy to do especially if the potting mix is becoming non-wetting. Which was my other suspicion. Non wetting potting mix means the water is running through the mix or down the sides and leaving the mix powdery which you will find when you scratch around in the mix. If this is the case, apply soil wetter as per instructions on the container and water in with seaweed solution. If over watering, the roots are rotting. The seaweed solution may stimulate new root growth. The other possibility is that you pot is too shallow.

  41. Ian says:

    I would like to tidy up my grasstrees by trimming off the dead skirt. Can this be done at any time of the year?

  42. Karen says:

    Hi, I noticed ant trails on my blackboy and after scrapping the trail with my fingernail I saw white ants, how can I get rid of them and save the blackboy?

    • Corinne says:

      Try an insecticide spray on the trunk. Try to prevent ants by finding their nests nearby. There may be scale in the leaves which may have attracted the ants in the first place. Look for a suitable treatment at your local nursery if this is so.

  43. Annette says:

    Hi Corinne,

    I have just transferred some young x glauca plants. Do I need to trim back the existing leaves? They look pretty good but the leaves are separating rather than staying together as before.

  44. Corey says:

    I have planted a grass tree about 7 months ago and noticed today a stalk already growing, the tree is about half a metre tall should i cut the flower stalk or let it grow..

  45. Barry says:

    My blackboy is abour 60cms tall and produced its first flower spike recently. When about 50cms tall a vandal broke it off. Will this flower spike grow again. If not how long before I can expect another? The tree came from Qld.

  46. MICHELLE says:

    I have a black boy which till about a week ago was lush and beautiful. The tips of the grass has gone yellow and it appears to be dying off under the grass at a quicker rate.
    Any suggestions ? I was watering once a week and allowing nature to do the rest- am I underwatering perhaps

    • Colin says:

      Where do Blackboys grow… do they get watered once a week… not really. Blackboys need little care, a well drained sand loam type soil is best. If burning be very very careful as they are extremely difficult to put out and can get out of control if near a house or shed etc. If buying from garden centre leave outside in a pot for 12 months before planting.

  47. Glenda says:

    could you help, I planted a black boy on the weekend and when removed pot noticed ants on side of plant ,then seen eggs would the queen be in there? if she is would insecticide kill her or just the working ants , the plant has suffered a bit but not to bad I used seasol on it only 2 weeks prior to planting improved but now the ants may be the issue

    • Corinne says:

      The queen should be in there, however I would probably use Ant Sand (Mortein I think) as the workers will transport this right into the nest.

    • Corinne says:

      I cannot remember whether I replied to you at the time, but any treatment aimed at getting into the nest should also kill off the queen and all other ants. Things like antsand is carried into the nest by the ants.

  48. Paul says:

    Hi, I have just replanted a black boy tree about 500 cm tall. It has gone from sandy soil to sandy soil which is well drained.
    It looks OK but the fronds are now drooping. They have maintained their green colour. Should I be concerned or is it usual transplant stress. I have not given it any fertilizer or nutrients as I believe it doesn’t need it.
    Is there anything I should do?

  49. Simone says:

    Hi, not sure if this is still current as the last comment was from over a year ago. I am just wondering if anyone has cut the crown off of a grass tree due to insect infestation (looks like fly larvae) or rot and had the grass tree continue to grow? Some sites say you can cut the rotten/damaged part off, and other sites say this will kill the plant. Thanks.

    • Corinne says:

      When I asked a nursery in WA about this problem I was told that they would not shoot. If you have kept the plant I would like to know what happened.

      • Simone says:

        Hi Corinne,
        We actually cut the tops off (there were 3 heads, though one of those was a double, itself, so you could say 4) as they were very damaged by the insects and the tops were quite rotten. As the days went on, it started oozing a rotten fluid that smelled like rotten potatoes from a few spots up the trunk. It was obvious that it was entirely rotten. We had to remove it from the garden as the smell was awful. When we cut it open, it had the insects still living in it, from the top to the bottom of the plant. There was no way the plant was going to come back from that.

  50. Margaret Thomson says:

    Have a grass tree and vandals have broken the top off the centre spike, what do I do with it at the moment we have an ugly stem with nothing on it??? Please advise what I should do as I don’t want to kill the plant I live in Victoria

    • Corinne says:

      A specialised nursery I contacted said that was the end of the grass tree. Was that so or did it sprout again. The reason I ask is thet bush fire will destroy all the top growth and must burn the tip and they seem to sprout from the side sometimes.

  51. Pete says:

    I pulled a blackboy out of the ground with my hands yesterday and moved it to a deep pot about 45 mins later. After ready how hard they are to transplant I am a little worried that I have no chance. What’s the likelyhood of the plant surviving and is there any advice as to how I can/if at all create root growth

  52. Doris says:

    Hi I need help. I have a green tree on my property & I would like to move it, what steps do I need to take to remove. Please

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Doris,
      It depends on the size of the tree. The advice I have been given says to take as much of the root system as possible when you remove the tree from the ground. Plant at the same depth as before. Water in with a seaweed type solution to help stimulate root growth. Keep damp for several weeks. It may be wet enough from rainfall after watering in and settling the roots.

  53. Darren says:

    Hi I transplanted 3 grass threes in Nov last year and all have taken really well and looking so healthy as they came from the Dunsborough and had a huge root ball which was transplanted with a bob cat.We live in Bunbury and they have been planted into good draining soil. One of the grass trees is a double header and already it has started to produce a stalk which is 600mm high and has pretty well come up within two weeks. The size of the double header is 650 high and about 300 mm in diameter, the stalk has risen from the smaller head which is only 250mm high by 250mm round and this is the one that has produced the stalk. Should I cut the stalk off as Ive read the first two springs to cut them as to distress the plant?

  54. Peta says:

    I literally bought my first grass tree TODAY & my darling daughter accidentally broke the flower spike in half & it’s now hanging. (Trust me, I wasn’t happy!) What should I do? It’s still in the pot I bought it in, but will soon be transplanting to a larger pot. What is the best potting mix to buy?

    • Corinne says:

      I would cut the spike back to the foliage if you have lost all the flower bus, otherwise just tidy the cut. Pot into a well drained potting mix, one for natives, or one that has the 5 ticks on the bag in black, which indicates very little fertiliser in the bag. You will have to add a native plant slow release fertiliser, following instructions on the pack.

  55. Meg says:

    Hi there,
    My partner and I bought 2 grass trees for our garden about 2 years ago, they have absolutely thrived and been very happy until about 3 months ago we noticed one of them was starting to look not very happy. We cut back the brown, dead grassy bits and left the new growth, which appeared to go brown very quickly. We then noticed that they would pull out very easily, some falling out with the wind. It seemed it was very moist where they were falling out from, and stink quite bad. I also observed some very small worms would come out with the grass.
    Now we have no new, alive growth, it is all very positively brown, and I suspect dead.
    There have now been ants pulling out these small worms and today the very centre of the top has lifted and is about to fall down.
    My guess is either rot of mealie worms? And my second guess is that our grass tree is very positively dead.
    The other one is still thriving. Both were watered as we were told to water them, not covered or shaded by any other trees or plants. Just this one suddenly decided to die 🙁
    I fear the worst, but I am hoping you might have some ideas or good news.
    Thank you.

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Meg, I would say that rot is the problem and your grass tree is no more. Unfortunately we cannot know for certain what lies beneath each plant. If you do try again, I would suggest adding gypsum to the soil so that you break up any clay. The rate is up to 1Kg per square metre. This depends on which species you purchased assuming that what you have require very good drainage.

      • Meg says:

        Hello again!
        We have just gone outside and by chance noticed a few little green sprouts sprouting from the apparently dead trunk. It appears it is growing the grass back?! We had completely lost hope and to notice this has made us extremely happy.
        Here is an image of the sprouts, would love your input. http://imgur.com/csY8q4S

  56. Meg says:

    Hello again!
    We have just gone outside and by chance noticed a few little green sprouts sprouting from the apparently dead trunk. It appears it is growing the grass back?! We had completely lost hope and to notice this has made us extremely happy.
    Here is an image of the sprouts, would love your input. http://imgur.com/csY8q4S

    • Corinne says:

      Well done, you! It will be an interesting plant with at least three heads of leaves but that is often seen in the wild after damage has occured. I’m so glad it has appeared again and you have the opportunty to see it progress.

  57. Chris Balfour says:

    I have a Xanthorrhoea which has large 2 branches. Approximately 6 foot tall. Huge. Has flowered twice in 10 years and I do nothing with it. Yesterday I noticed a hole in it’s side. I can put my hand in it. Yes, it is hollow and dry. Is this a problem? or a natural occurrence. Plant is healthy.

  58. Julie says:

    Hi. I am hoping you can help clarify mixed advice I have received in regards to my grass plant. It was given to me as a gift, and was told that it needed to be repotted in Autumn. But when I went to the nursery for further maintenance advice, they said to keep it in the original pot. Should it be in the pot it came from the nursery in? or repotted into a larger pot?
    Thanks, Julie

    • Peta says:

      I bought mine in September last year, repotted it in October and it’s still going strong. Just don’t disturb the root ball & surrounding dirt. Don’t loosen it. Just pot into larger pot and use suitable potting mix to top it up (See my original post from 1 Sept above) Good luck.

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Julie,
      If the plant is more than double the height of the pot, I would consider repotting in a good potting mix into a pot the next size up. If however you discover roots on the outside of the root ball I would consider going up an extra size. It is important not to over pot by using a pot too big as the root ball and surrounding mix will become too wet and there is the risk of root rotting.

  59. Lisa says:

    Hi I need help! My blackboy has had the top knocked off (all of the foliage) any way to save it?

  60. peter says:

    Corinne you sound very knowledgeable. I am interested in the size of the grass trees root ball as a friend of mine has many on his property and says I can have a few. if a grass tree has a 1 m trunk how much area around the tree would you take and how deep below surface? the pots I see trees in seem to indicate there is very little root ball at all. Peter

    • Corinne says:

      I’m sorry I did not reply to this i a timely way.
      From what I can gather, the roots are quite fleshy, and once dug up the plants need care for at least 18 months in so far as, staking, and keeping the root ball moist, not wet. You can also use seaweed type products to stimulate root growth. I think a root ball that would fit into about a 30cm pot would be the smallest for a metre high plant. Apparently some species have retractile roots, ie the roots pull the plant into the ground, so I would go down at least 30cm, and remove the plant without disturbing the soil.

  61. Gary Roberts says:

    Hi. I have a wonderful Black Boy grass-tree in my front garden (inherited), as it was already there when we purchased the property. Our front yard is basically a cactus garden and appears to have been very thoughtfully planted and designed….ie the surface is all primarily crushed (orangy coloured) stones.
    Anyway, after about 2 years at the property, the one flower spike broke off in bad windy weather, but I’ve recently been thrilled, that not only 1 flower spike has regrown, but infact 3!!! At present, there is only 1 solid tree trunk, but there does appear to be three separate foliage centers at the top.
    I was wondering if having 3 flower spikes was rare??
    I’m so thrilled with this tree.

  62. Maria Murray says:

    Hi..I have a lovely grass tree with a flower spike. It is in a pot.
    Sometimes the flower spike droops, other times it is erect.anything to be concerned about? Thank you for your knowledge

  63. jon says:

    My blackboy to me is dead, I pulled the fronds out at the crown with ease and I could smell like rotting fruit smell and the root tips are wet greyish. I burnt the fronds and i pulled the dead crown and i made a hole at the crown by pulling the fronds thinking i could salvage and it will regrow???, can the tree regrow its self considering i have pulled out most of the fronds an is now a hole or will it need to be destroyed. I’m not sure if its fungus or wireworms. Its there a preventive treatment yearly recommend for a funguside/insecticide that commonly used for these tree as i have 3 more large tree an i hate to lose them.

  64. Planty Dude says:

    does anyone know how big Xanthorrea semiplana grows?

  65. Larraine says:

    I have two grass trees, one gets hit hard by frost n the other never. They are within two mets of each other.
    I am moving house soon n wish to by another. Can anyone suggest as to which one may be the frost hardy one I may have pls.

  66. Marianne Pankhurst says:

    Hi Corrine, we had 80mls of rain yesterday and the side of my grass tree has fallen off. Do we try and attached it on and hope it grafts. I am worried I might lose this beautiful and previously healthy tree. Regards Marianne

  67. Lucinda says:

    I tookthe seeds off my tree and put them into a container til I would think of planting them that was a few months ago and Ijust now looked into the container and they are almost all sprouting with 1 inch long grass-like strand…how should I best plant these…into little separate pots? into a seedling tray? straight into a garden bed and then take them out later…how deep should they be ? Oh so many questions…I was just knocked out that they sprouted all by themselves…Would appreciate any advice you could give me…thankyou, Lucinda

  68. marty says:

    once the spike becomes dry and the flowers are dead should I just leave it or is it better to cut the spike?

  69. Linda says:

    I noticed some posts enquiring about ‘vandals’ that have broken off flower stalks. We have two healthy Xanthorrhoea australis that have each flowered twice over the past 10 years. This year one sent up a stalk that had reached about 250mm above the tips of the leaves. We had a wet, windy night and in the morning half of the part of the stalk that would flower was gone, I assumed broken off ? A couple of days later, I noticed the remaining flowering part was further damaged. After another couple of days, the flowering part was completely gone and the stalk itself had been damaged. We also noticed a large sulphur-crested cockatoo in a tree opposite the garden. I know that cockatoos love the seeds that form after flowering, but is it possible a cockatoo is eating the stalk before it flowers?

  70. Kerry adams says:

    Hi there is a house being demolished in my street and it has a huge grass tree that is being held up with bricks and wood it has about 4-5 new green heads scattered throughout is there anyway I can take these off and plant the actual treee is way too big and old to do anything with any help would be great I’ve spoke to the demolition people and they have given me the ok

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