By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Drought prone areas and sites with low maintenance needs will benefit from the use of ornamental grass. The original grasses hail from Australia but have been developed in New Zealand to include numerous cultivars. Wintertime wet feet and dry summer conditions simulate the best Lomandra growing conditions. Best of all, the grasses can be cold hardy into USDA zones 7 to 11. As an excellent visual enhancement to the garden, Lomandra grass can’t be beat in most of our temperate to warm climates.
Nothing beats the sway and swish of ornamental grasses in the landscape. Not only are they acoustically appealing but their dimension and movement send visitors into a pleasant swoon. One of the nicest grasses for dry to wet landscapes is Lomandra. Its main attraction comes with Lomandra maintenance, which can swing from outright neglect to brutal shearing. More lush growth and a fuller plant will result from average watering and feeding, but the plant has an attractive natural aspect even when left to its own devices.
Exactly what is Lomandra grass? Lomandra is a native Australian grass that is also called basket grass or spiny-head mat-rush. Lomandra growing conditions vary from sandy to moist soils in swamps, mountains, creek banks, forests and open hillsides. Lomandra grass has a clumping habit with green, flat blades and a height and spread of about three feet.
Among the more interesting tidbits of Lomandra information is its traditional use by Aborigines to make nets and baskets, and one species was also used as a food. There are nearly 10 Lomandra grass varieties available on the market. Almost any of these would be suitable as ornamental specimens in the warm region garden. As an added bonus, caring for Lomandra grass is effortless and plants have few disease or insect problems.
The largest of the Lomandra is Katie Belles. It grows nicely in bright sun or dappled shade and produces prolific creamy white inflorescences.
Lomandra ‘Katrina Deluxe’ has fragrant flowers and a compact habit while ‘Nyalla’ has blue foliage and yellow flowers.
A totally different appearance is brought by Lomandra cylindrica ‘Lime Wave,’ which has chartreuse foliage and bright golden blooms.
Lomandra ‘Tanika’ is known for its graceful, arching foliage.
Dwarf Lomandra produces perfect tufts of green with orange-yellow inflorescences.
There are many more varieties available, and this adaptable grass is being developed to extend hardiness.
Most of these grasses are suited to full sun or lightly shaded locations. The foliage color may change slightly depending upon the exposure to sunlight, but the health of the plant is not affected.
Once established, the grass is tolerant of drought but for thick clumps of glossy foliage, occasional watering is an important part of Lomandra maintenance.
If grasses get damaged due to frost, wind or time, simply cut them back to 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm.) from the ground and the foliage will spring back beautifully.
Almost any area of the garden can provide perfect Lomandra growing conditions. This versatile plant is even comfortable in containers and makes a perfect low border, outline for a pathway or mass planting to replace traditional sod. Lomandra grass is an outstanding landscape performer with a tough nature and elegant, transformative foliage.
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I’m not much for tough guys I prefer the sensitive artist type—except when it comes to perennial grasses. I admit to liking leafy ones that can hold their own, take care of themselves, not fuss and can just…deal. This is why I use Australia native Lomandra in so many of my garden designs. For my clients’ sake, I like to use a good portion of plants that look good year-round and sometimes stand up to rough dogs and marauding deer. If this potential partner intrigues you, please keep reading to learn more about this grass-like future mate.
Above: Lomandra spicata. Photograph by Peter Woodard via Wikimedia.
When I need an evergreen plant that can masquerade as a grass, I use Lomandra. When I need a plant that is low maintenance, isn’t a prima donna begging for copious amounts of sun, and just plain looks awesome year-round, I call in Lomandra.
A particularly impressive quality of this perennial herb is its versatility. Lomandra is happy in growing conditions that vary from quick-draining sandy soil to swampy, moist locations. Also, Lomandra can happily exist in a variety of light conditions, although the tonal quality of the blade may dim in low light and the leaves might not be as perky as they are in full sun. Lomandra’s structured yet soft appearance will undoubtedly impress in most every garden setting, even when left to its own devices.
Above: Lomandra cylindrica. Photograph by Gardenology via Wikimedia.
Native to Australia, Lomandra also is called basket grass because it could easily be part of the ornamental grass family for its long, narrow blade-like leaves. Another common name is mat rush, because Australian Aboriginal people apparently weaved the leaves into mats. My favorites:
Above: Lomandra longifolia ‘Breeze’ is the most widely used Lomandra variety in the world, prized for its compact habit, tolerance for shade, and the fact that it looks and feels like a true ornamental grass. Photograph via Dig Plant Co.
L. longifolia ‘Breeze’ sports bright, pine-green foliage and is drought-tolerant and evergreen even in areas where temperatures can dip close to zero degrees. It gracefully arches and weeps, forming symmetrical clumps that can grow to a diameter and height of 3 feet.
Above: Lomandra longifolia ‘Platinum Beauty’. Photograph via Peacock Horticultural Nursery.
L. longifolia ‘Platinum Beauty’ is tough yet totally pretty. Creamy white-edged blades will brighten garden spaces and pair perfectly with white and silver foliage and flowers. This drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plant stands up to challenging environments.
Lomandra longifolia (Spiny-head Mat-rush or Basket Grass) is native Australia wide except for the Northern Territory and Western Australia. A member of the Xanthorrhoeaceae family, it can grow in a range of sandy soils, in swamps and wet places to the montane zone on banks of creeks, rocky hillsides, cliffs and open forests.
L. longifolia is a perennial, rhizomatous herb. Leaves are glossy green, shiny, firm, flat. They can grow from 40cm up to 1m long and 8-12mm wide and are usually taller than the flowering stem. Leaf bases are broad with yellow, orange or brownish margins and the tips of the leaves are prominently toothed.
The inflorescence is usually a panicle of clusters of sessile flowers. Each cluster has a sharp, slender, straw-colored bract at its base, which gives it a dense spike-like structure. The inflorescence is usually about half the leaf length (500mm) and individual flowers are about 4mm long. Flowers of L. longifolia are scented and dioecious, with the female flower often a little bit longer or larger than the male flower. The heavy-smelling nectar on flowers can attract pollinating beetles. Flowering in warm temperature (late winter/early spring), fruiting occurs 1-2 months after flowering.
The clustered flower head is always shown as brown seed capsules throughout the year. During the flowering period, sepals are shiny brown, thin and papery, while the petals are fleshy and creamy-yellow colored.
L. longifolia is suitable for growing indoors in containers as well as outdoors and requires moist soil for growth. However, its thick leaves and also the extensive root system help L. longifolia tolerate dryness. It can grow in a wide range of soil from light (sandy) to heavy (clay) soil. There is no special soil pH requirement and it can grow in semi-shaded area like light woodland or non-shaded area.
It is relatively easy to maintain L. longifolia. Moisture soil is required for growth of the plant, but it would not die out without watering. It is very high tolerant to dryness and does not have pest and disease.
L. longifolia propagates by seed or clump division. When the fruits are matured and turn brown, sow the seed in moist soil for 6 weeks in the greenhouse/outdoor. Clump division: by dividing the plant into half and plant them in moist soil indoor/outdoor.
There is not much cultivation limitation for this plant in Australia. L. longifolia is highly drought-tolerant but also can tolerate occasional flooding, withstand low temperature down to -7°C and succeeds in moist soil in Australia. However, the plant can die back when it is in a wet winter nor does it survive well in areas with cooler summers.
Aboriginal people use the leaves of L. longifolia to make strong nets and baskets, and they consume the base of L. longifolia leaves as food.
Text by Kate Tak Yee Ko (2007 Botanical Intern)
Lomandra – from Loma- (Greek) meaning edge, border and aner, man, male, because of the bordered anthers of some species.
longifolia – from longi- (Latin) meaning long and -folia (Latin) meaning leaf.
Lomandra filiformis, whose common name is Wattle Mat Rush, is native to Australia. According to the Australian Plant Index, this species belongs to the Asparagaceae family but can also be found listed in the Lomandraceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae families.
It is widespread in eastern Australia, from northern Queensland through New South Wales to Victoria as far west as the Grampians. This species is generally found growing in open forest and woodland areas and will tolerate much drier conditions than Lomandra longifolia [GNP page]. It performs in a variety of soil types from heavy clays to, humus-rich and sandy soils.
It is a compact perennial herb growing up to 50cm tall in sparse clumps up to 20cm in diameter with a semi-arching habit. The leaves are stiff, approximately 3mm to 5mm in width, with inrolled margins and are dull green to bluish-green in colour. Each leaf is tipped with one to three tiny light brown points. This plant spreads by underground creeping rhizomes and when affected by fire will re-establish from these.
This species becomes noticeable at flowering time - mainly from October to November, but this may vary according to locality. The flowers are cream to bright yellow, hence the common name. The male flowers are ball shaped, up to 2mm in length, while the female flowers are more tubular, up to 3mm in length.
This plant grows well in full sun or part shade and can tolerate a range of temperatures from extreme highs to lows. It is exceptionally drought hardy and tolerant to frost.
Lomandra filiformis can be propagated by either seed or division.
Seeds disperse quickly making collection difficult. To perform well, seeds need to be sown directly after collection. Soaking seeds in warm water 24 hours prior to sowing will help break their dormancy. Their germination rate is low and they can take between 4 to 12 weeks or even longer to emerge.
An established plant can be divided but ensure roots are attached to each section before planting. Each new plant can be planted directly into the garden or into a pot.
This is a low maintenance plant but may require occasional pruning to remove tattered ends. It is not subject to any known pests and diseases. Once established this species requires very little to no irrigation, making it a low water use plant.
Both stunning and versatile, this species can be used for mass plantings in garden beds and borders. It is particularly useful in small gardens and courtyards as a design feature and can be planted to complement native grasses. As it is slow growing this makes it ideal as a container plant.
Text by Val Cheater (2009 Botanical Intern)
Lomandra – from the Greek Loma – meaning edge or border – and aner – man or male – because of the borders on the anthers of some species.
filiformis – threadlike, referring to the narrow leaves.
Lomandra longifolia, commonly known as spiny-head mat-rush,  spiky-headed mat-rush  or basket grass, is a perennial, rhizomatous herb found throughout eastern Australia. The leaves are 40 cm to 80 cm long, and generally have a leaf of about 8 mm to 12 mm wide.  It grows in a variety of soil types and is frost, heat and drought tolerant.  Labillardiere described Lomandra longifolia from a specimen collected in Tasmania. 
Xerotes longifolia (Labill.) R.Br.
This strappy leaf plant is often used on roadside plantings in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States, due to its high level of drought tolerance. The breeding of more compact finer leaf forms has made Lomandra longifolia popular as an evergreen grass-like plant in home plantings. Tanika, Lomandra longifolia 'LM300', also known as breeze grass in the US, was the first fine leaf type. It still has the finest leaf of any Lomandra longifolia, with a width of 3 mm.  In temperatures down to −7 degrees Celsius these plants stay evergreen, and this variety has been recorded to live in the USA at a number of sites including Alabama, at −10 degrees Celsius.
Indigenous Australians ground the seeds for use in damper, and the long, flat, fibrous leaves were used for weaving. The base of the leaves contains water, and was chewed by those in danger of dehydration. 
L. longifolia is closely related to L. hystrix, the main differences being that the leaf of L. hystrix has teeth on each side of the longer main end point, whereas that of L. longifolia has side teeth equal if not longer than the central one (a W shape). 
The Matt Rushes at San Marcos Growers
Matt Rush is a common name for Lomandra, a genus with about 50 species of tufted dioecious perennial herbs with long narrow blade-like leaves that arise from a central stemless base (acaulescent) and have thick woody rhizomes and fibrous roots. Flower inflorescences are cymes, panicles or spikes with male and female flowers on separate plants with both sexes of flowers looking fairly similar. Most of the cultivars have yellow flowers of varying fragrance that are in tight clusters and accompanied by slender spines. The genus has a widespread distribution through diverse habitats from rainforests to arid areas largely restricted to Australia but with 2 species extending into New Guinea and New Caladonia. The genus Lomandra was previously placed in the lily family, the Liliaceae, then with the grass trees, in the Xanthorrhoeaceae and later the Dasypogonaceae but current treatment is to put it in the subfamily Lomandroideae in the Asparagaceae, which includes such well known plants as Aloe, the cabbage palm, palm lily and ti plant (Cordyline sp.), the rock-lilies (Arthropodium sp.), the Paper-lilies (Laxmannia sp.) and the Fringe-lilies (Thysanotus sp.). Alternate treatments place in the Laxmanniaceae or its own family, the Lomandraceae. The name Lomandra is comes from the Greek words "loma" meaning margin and "andros" meaning male and is in reference to a circular margin on the anthers. These plants are commonly called Matt Rushes because leaves were used for weaving into mats by the Australian Aboriginal people, who also used the leaf bases as a food.
We began growing Lomandra at San Marcos Growers in 1990 after purchasing seed of Lomandra longifolia from Nindethana Seed Company in Australia. Our interest was piqued after seeing this plant used extensively in gardens in Australia while touring this country in 1989. Particularly impressive was the plant versatility as it was used as an interior plant, in aquatic gardens and as a dry growing plant in the Eucalyptus understory. Our first seed grown plants were very large and, though quite attractive and tough, their use was limited to large gardens. A majority of this first crop went to Madame Ganna Walska Lotusland in 1992, where the planting remains as an attractive large scale groundcover under Blue Gums (Eucalyptus globulus).
Lomandra longifolia under Blue Gums (Eucalyptus globulus) near the visitor parking area at Madame Ganna Walska Lotusland.
The second Lomandra to cross our path was an attractive Matt Rush we received from Southern California plantsman Gary Hammer in 1996 that we thought would be far more useful in smaller gardens and for mass plantings as it appeared that it would remain considerably shorter than the larger form of Lomandra longifolia that we were growing. It took us several years to build up enough stock on this plant and we were finally able to begin selling it in 1998. Still thinking this plant would remain small and wanting to honor Gary Hammer as the source, we called this plant Lomandra longifolia 'Gary's Dwarf'. After growing this plant for many years we finally concluded that it was neither a dwarf plant, or a form of Lomandra longifolia but a selction of c so renamed it Lomandra hystrix 'Gary's Green'. We still have both or our original Lomandras in the garden but have since replaced the large Lomandra longifolia with smaller cultivars and replaced 'Gary's Green' with the similar but slightly smaller Lomandra hystrix Tropic Bell ['LHCOM']
After growing and selling these early Lomandra varieties for a few years, we were told by Australian horticulturalists that new selections of Lomandra were gaining popularity in Australia. In 2003 we were contacted by Tobey Wagner of VersaScapes, a turfgrass producer in South Carolina, who was trialing a smaller cultivar of Lomandra from Australian plant breeder Todd Layt of Ozbreed. VersaScapes was looking at grasslike plants that would be tough and attractive for their southeastern market as a replacement for Liriope, as this ubiquitous turf lily was having disease problems in southern gardens. The plant they were evaluating was called Lomandra 'Tanika' in Australia, but was registered in the US with the cultivar name 'LM300' and the trade name of "Breeze". Thinking this plant may have a future with a broader market, VersaScapes asked San Marcos Growers and Australian Native Plants Nursery in Ojai to trial this plant in California. Our first test planting was planted in spring 2004 and is still thriving in our garden today. This plant and the newer cultivars that have followed behind it have become so popular, and at such a rapid pace, that our friend John Greenlee (AKA The Grassman) remarked about the increasing interest in these plants as "The Lomandra Revolution". The steady stream of new Lomandra cultivars that have since become available will assure that this Lomandra Revolution will carry on!
The general cultivation requirements for Lomandra are easy for most gardeners to provide. They grow in sun or shade with abundant to little or nearly no supplemental irrigation - plants will grow actively and more robust when water is provided but when water is withheld, in most situations the plants do not die but stop active growth. More irrigation will need to be provided in hotter inland locations but for coastal gardens, especially in the shade, these plants can certainly be considered "drought tolerant" - some exceptions to these guidelines are explained on the individual listings of these plants at the links below but generally these plants are carefree. Another positive attribute noted is that these plants don't seem to be very attractive to gophers, which is a real plus. We have also found them to respond well to being cut back hard and in fact have succesfully done this on a nearly annual basis in the fall through late spring with Lomandra hystrix 'Gary's Green' and Lomandra longifolia Breeze. Both of these plants were cut to tight mounds no more than 6 inches tall and they both resprouted and grew back rapidly - within 3 weeks the plants looked presentable. This cutting back cleaned up older foliage and made the plants more presentable but is not necessary, as we have older clumps in the ground for over 25 years that have never been cut back in this manner and they are still quite attractive.
Currently we are growing the following Lomandra:
Lomandra Baby Breeze ['LM600'] PP28,260 (AKA Evergreen Baby)
Lomandra confertiflora subsp. rubiginosa 'Crackerjack' (Mat rush 'Crackerjack') will reach a height of 0.7m and a spread of 1m after 2-5 years.
City, Beds and borders, Coastal, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Gravel, Mediterranean
Grow in well-drained, preferably neutral to acid soil in full sun. Tolerates partial shade, especially in areas with very hot summers. Mulch in winter in cold areas.
Hardy (H4), Tender in frost (H3)
We do not currently have companion plants added for this plant.
Lomandra confertiflora subsp. rubiginosa 'Crackerjack'
Mat rush 'Crackerjack', Matt rush 'Crackerjack'
'Crackerjack' _ 'Crackerjack' is a tufted, mound-forming, frost-hardy, evergreen perennial with linear, flat, grass-like, blue-green leaves and spikes of inconspicuous, fragrant, cream flowers in summer.
Cushion or Mound Forming, Clump-forming
Some of the top wholesale growers listed below do also sell retail, those marked as Trade Only will not, all others will sell direct to the general public.
|Gondwana Nursery |
|BARKERS VALE||02 6689 7544|
For retail nurseries and more wholesale growers click here.
This website gives general information for the states/regions in Australia. For local information on which plants work in your area contact your local grower. Local grower knowledge is vital, this website is no substitute.
Heights shown on the website are for general gardening conditions. In well maintained gardens, some plants will get taller.
For the Landscape Professional: 3d graphics, top views, brochures and more
IMPORTANT FACT ABOUT PLANT & TURF NAMES: In this website, the genus species and cultivar are listed like this example: Dianella caerulea ‘DCNC0’ is the PBR and cultivar name. The brand name or trade name for this plant is BREEZE®, and should not be confused with the true cultivar name. The cultivar or true plant or turf name will always immediately follow the species name enclosed in single quotation marks.
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