Chances are you won’t have heard of Lomandra! This mysterious plant has a severe case of mistaken identity, as it’s not in fact a grass AT ALL. Lomandra plants are actually part of the Asparagus family, following a recent classification from the Lily family.
However, put all that aside, and be prepared to embrace Lomandra as your next “unkillable plant”! With a strong heritage as an Australian native, Lomandra would survive all of the following: severe cold and frost to -10C, flooded ground, footballs landing onto it, perishing dry summers, curious dogs, clumsy Aunts, and so much more!
How was this plant created?
The creme de la creme of plant breeders teamed up to create Lomandra ‘White Sands’: Malcolm Woolmore of KiwiFlora and Robert Harrison of Greenhills Propagation. This was New Zealand and Australia teaming up to transform an outback native into a great garden plant, quite the task!
It was Robert’s job to first source viable seed of Lomandra, and he collated quite a few species. Sometimes, breeding programmes start off with a bit of busy bee action, and that was the case for Lomandra, as insects and bees busily spread pollen amongst those different species and cultivars.
Later, in New Zealand, Malcolm grew out a selection of the crossings. He didn’t just plant a few though, he planted TEN THOUSAND plants! Disappointingly, only FIVE plants were spectacular and different enough to pursue with! In 2013, some of these plants caught their eye with fancy variegated foliage! One was too weak, yet another was romping away, and Malcolm and Robert could see some potential…
What’s different about this plant?
As a pure green plant in the wild, Lomandra may not cause you to look twice… however, this new cream-etched variety was a crowd pleaser for sure! The upright, candelabra habit of Lomandra is slightly different to the usual clump forming grasses, and gives it quite a majestic stature. This plant would be landscape gold!
Lomandra ‘White Sands’ is ticking all the boxes in gardening right now: fancy foliage – yes! xeriscaping and drought tolerance – yes! flooding proof – yes!
There are also another couple of less conventional uses, and we have the indigenous people to thank for them.. Lomandra foliage has been used in weaving in times past, and the seeds ground and added to ‘damper’ – a type of Australian soda bread! And, if you’re interested, plants hold water in their base, meaning they can be chewed when lost and dehydrated in dry forested areas… or your own garden…!
Where can you plant Lomandra ‘White Sands’?
At a manageable 75cm tall and 50cm wide, Lomandra ‘White Sands’ looks handsome in most planting situations- whether that’s a patio container or a mixed border. This plant is a natural landscaping star, as it battles through cold, frost, heat, drought and water logging, barely breaking a sweat…!
The speed is quite something too, with a growth rate akin to bamboo. From virgin to voluptuous in next to no time!
Where can you buy this plant?
Plants are not yet available in garden centres or by mail order. Lomandra ‘White Sands’ is being launched at the IPM Essen trade event in Germany in January 2020.
How to grow Lomandra ‘White Sands’:
Flowering time: May to June
Location: Borders, patio pots
Soil: Any well-drained soil
Light: Sun to part shade – happiest in full sun
Hardy: Survives down to -10C! Plant are evergreen!
Care: Occasional grooming to remove old foliage will keep it looking its best.
Size: 75cm (30”) high x 50cm (20”) in spread
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America). Lomandra ‘White Sands’ is raised by collaboration between Malcolm Woolmore of KiwiFlora Ltd and Robert Harrison of Greenhills Propagation Ltd.
See every Plant of the Month here.
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I planted a variegated lomandra last year to see how it would do in my northern California garden and could not be more impressed. The deer left it alone, it grew large with very little water and the leaves are a lovely contrast to all my purple salvia.