Lomandra (loh-MAN-druh), commonly known as mat rushes, is a small genus of perennial herbaceous plants from the Asparagaceae family.
It contains 51 species and all of them are native to Australia, with two also being found in New Caledonia and New Guinea.
However, it has been widely grown in many other parts of the world, including New Zealand.
The word Lomandra comes from two Greek words – loma meaning margin or edge and andros meaning male – and refers to the circular margin on the anthers of Lomandra flowers.
The plants are more widely known with common names of spiny-head-mat-rush and basket grass.
Several cultivars of lomandra species are also available, and almost all of them grow in warm temperatures.
Some of the commonly grown lomandra variety include:
- Lomandra hystrix (river mat rush)
- L. longifolia (long-leaved mat rush)
- L. spicata, Lomandra ‘Tanika’
- Lomandra cylindrica
- Lomandra ‘Breeze’
While lomandras are not true ornamental grasses, they are called so due to their similar appearance and growth habit.
Lomandra Grass Care
Size & Growth
Lomandra are hardy evergreen plants with slender, flat, strappy green leaves, dense and deep root systems, and clumping growth habit.
Most species of these grass-like plants grow up to the height and width of about 3’ feet.
Flowering and Fragrance
In late spring, lomandra plants produce yellow flower spikes.
But, they are inconspicuous and doesn’t add much value to the plants.
In winters i.e. from December to February, Lomandra species produce fruits.
The fruiting season sometimes last till early spring.
Light & Temperature
- Most lomandra species easily grow in full sun to full shade.
- They are hardy and can hence, can easily tolerate a range of temperatures as well.
- However, it appreciates warmer climates.
- Depending on the sunlight exposure, the foliage color of a lomandra plant may vary a bit, however, it doesn’t affect the plant’s health.
- In the United States, most plants are winter hardy to USDA zones 7 to 11.
Watering and Feeding
While lomandra plants have moderate water needs, most of them can tolerate very dry to wet conditions.
They can even survive flooding and are also highly drought tolerant.
This versatility makes these Australian native plants ideal for a variety of landscapes.
Soil & Transplanting
Lomandras can grow in all soil types, including the poor ones.
In fact, as mentioned above, they help prevent erosion and loss of nutrients from the soil.
Grooming and Maintenance
Most of these Australian plants are low-maintenance and can even grow well with little to no care, once established.
Young plants, however, need to be protected from weed and other grass species, which may give them hard competition.
In case your lomandra gets damaged, prune it to about 6” to 8” inches above the ground to encourage new, healthy growth.
How to Propagate Lomandra Grass
Lomandra plants can easily be grown from seeds or propagated through the rootball division.
To grow from seeds, simply scatter them over the potting mix in a seed tray.
- Water regularly to keep the soil moist and seeds will germinate within 4 to 6 weeks.
- Keep the young plants in part shade and continue to water regularly for about a month.
- Once the plantings are 4” to 6” inches in height, gradually harden them off in sunlight and then finally, transfer them to the ground once they are about 8” to 12” inches high.
To propagate through root ball division, carefully dig up a healthy clump and divide it with the help of a sharp blade, ensuring all the small divisions of the plant have good root systems.
Cut the leaves back to about one-third of their length and then plant the clumps into prepared ground.
Lomandra Grass Pest or Diseases
Lomandra plants aren’t very susceptible to pests and diseases.
Many of them, however, serve as the food source for the larvae of many butterfly species.
While it does cause some damage to the plants, it isn’t very serious and cannot cause plant death.
Some lomandra plants have also developed resistance to phytophthora (root rot).
When growing a lomandra plant from seeds, make sure to keep them protected from mice; they just love lomandra seeds.
The plants, however, are deer resistant.
Lomandra Grass Uses
The strong root systems of Lomandra species make them ideal for growing on slopes and in areas that are prone to erosion.
The roots help stabilize the soil along with trapping nutrients.
This makes lomandra great for riparian plantings and buffering.
When planted alongside the edges, some species even slow down weed intrusion as well as provide shelter to young plants.
Whether you need a plant to stabilize a creek bank, to create a buffer, as a groundcover, or simply to add visual interest to your garden, lomandra plants are the best choice.
Choose to grow different cultivars to add a range of colors to your garden – lomandra cultivars produce different colored foliage and flowers.
These low-maintenance plants are ideal for mass planting and are widely grown as ornamental grasses too due to their hardiness, compact habit, and beautiful pine-green foliage.
Historically, aborigines used these plants to make baskets and nets.