The transplant and transportation of the Giant Boab from the Kimberley region into the Western Australian Botanic Garden was one of the Authority's great success stories. The Garden Advisory Service often gets enquiries about transplanting Australian native plants, particularly the Common Grass-tree.
The Common Grass-tree (Xanthorrhoea preissii) grows in a wide range of soils, varying from deep free-draining sands to fairly heavy gravelly soils, and in full sun or in broken sunlight such as in Jarrah forest. The growth rate of grass trees is estimated to be between 1.7 cm and 2 cm per year, but this may increase in cultivation.
The time recommended for transplanting is from April to June, although success has been recorded at almost any time of the year.
The best method of transplanting is as follows:
Trim off the leaves of the grass-tree with shears, or tie them up with string, to avoid damage to your eyes.
Dig around the base of the plant severing the old roots. You only need to dig a few centimetres away from the trunk to avoid damaging it. Do not push on the top of the plant as you may snap it off.
Wrap the root system in damp hessian or canvas to stop it from drying out while transporting the plant.
Plant the grass-tree as soon as possible at the same depth at which it was growing. Fill in the soil around the root system, keeping a hose running to moisten the soil and eliminate any air pockets.
As soon as transplanting is finished make a depression or 'saucer' around the plant for future hand watering, or install trickle irrigation.
Trim off the leaves if you have not already done so, to reduce water loss. Within a few weeks new leaves will appear from the centre of the plant.
Water the plants regularly until the onset of heavy winter rains and then water once a week, starting in early Spring and continuing through Summer and Autumn until the onset of further winter rain. From then on the plants should be drought tolerant.
Grass-trees, like all native flora in Western Australia, are protected by law, and can only be removed from private property if complying with clearing laws and with the landowner’s permission. Commercial operators are licensed to salvage grass-trees, and these plants are readily available for landscape and home garden use.
For further information regarding the approvals for removing grass-trees from your property, or for information on the licensing requirements for the sale of grass-trees, please contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife.