How to Take Care of a Grass Tree

Completely unlike other native plants, the grass tree is an iconic part of the Australian bush and has been around for thousands of years. Considered to be a living fossil, adding a grass tree to your garden not only gives you a piece of history that generations of your family will be able to enjoy, but it will also provide a dramatic, architectural presence that will give your garden a whole new focal point.

To ensure that your new grass tree truly thrives, here’s what you need to do:


Find a Reputable Grass Tree Nursery

Not only is it illegal to remove a grass tree from its natural habitat, but the tree’s unique root system will be unlikely to thrive in your garden after that. For the best chances of survival, purchase your grass tree from a reputable nursery, one that is licensed to sustainably grow and harvest these historic specimens.


Plant Your Grass Tree in a Suitable Location

While some grass trees, such as the Glauca Grass Tree, will do well in a container, the tree truly thrives when planted in the ground. Choose a location that receives full sun or partial shade, and make sure that it’s protected from strong winds. Since grass trees don’t enjoy being moved, it’s important to pick the perfect spot in your garden right from the start.

The grass tree hates waterlogged soil, which is why it tends to grow on steep slopes in its natural environment. Therefore, good drainage is a must, especially since your grass tree will need to be regularly watered for the first few months after planting.

Try to disturb your grass tree’s roots as little as possible when planting – you may need to cut the pot away from the rootball, rather than lifting the tree out.


Give Your Grass Tree Enough Water, But Not Too Much

Once established, grass trees are pretty drought-tolerant, but they still do best when watered regularly. Once or twice a week is usually enough during dry spells in the summer, but make sure that you keep the actual trunk of your grass tree as dry as possible – too much water on the trunk will soften it, leaving it vulnerable to pests and diseases. The same applies to the foliage too, making it important to always direct water to the soil surrounding the tree instead.


Try to Promote Root Growth

For your grass tree to really thrive, you need to encourage its root system. Regular deep watering can help with this, as can using a liquid seaweed fertiliser for the first few months after planting. Many experts also recommend applying a mixture of brown sugar and water to the soil surrounding your grass tree for the first couple of years after planting – this feeds the mycorrhiza in the soil, enabling the tree’s roots to grow bigger and stronger.

Grass trees are a fantastic addition to any Australian garden. While there are a few different varieties to choose from, the Glauca Grass Tree is known for having the highest survival rate, making this the best option for home gardeners.


7 thoughts on “How to Take Care of a Grass Tree”

  1. We have a grass tree that is 25 years old and lives happily in the pot, it has rooted into the ground sitting on top…My husband has taken the pot off now, after all this time…will it die now as where the pot was is now exposed…any suggestions please

    1. I had EXACTLY the same situation. Mine grew in a large wooden container for nearly 30 years. When I noticed that the top leaves seemed to be dying back and basically contracting into a small bunch I contacted a gardening talkback show and was told that the roots were now probably into the clay which makes up the substrate of my garden and that it was dying a slow death. This year it does have a small clump of new leaves and I have just read that they like brown sugar so I might give it a go once a month.
      Good luck with yours.

  2. We moved into our new home 18 months ago, during that time we have removed a large palm tree from near one of the grass tree and several paper bark trees which was a approximately a metre away from the grass tree we never use any poison on the stump of the palm tree, we have noticed that nearly all the glass tree foliage has turned brown except athe centre portions, is this natural or have we damaged the grass tree,

  3. While moving the pot with my grass tree in it, it has fallen over and the head of the plant snapped off. I’m very upset about it. Can I replant the head and will the original plant resprout or have I killed it?

  4. My grass tree has likely been in the ground for over twenty years. It’s over 2 to 3 meters tall.
    I have noticed lately that is looking a bit brown. It’s under Retriculation with kangaroo paws. I’ve read not to get the trunk wet, is this maybe the problem

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