Leonotis leonurus (Lamiaceae, Labiatae)
Planting area: Sunset Zones 8 to 24
Size: 4 to 6 feet tall
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Bloom season: Late spring to fall
Exposure: Full sun, light shade.
Pruning needs: Depends on garden size.
Water needs: Low water, once established.
Narrative: Native to South Africa, this plant is deer-resistant and attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. It is bothered by few pests, but keep an eye out for spider mites and white flies.
Lion’s tail is an annual in cold winter temperatures, a perennial in areas with mild temperatures. It can be propagated from seeds started indoors in winter, or greenwood cuttings in late spring or summer.
A member of the mint family, lion’s tail has green leaves that are 2 to 5 inches long and slightly aromatic when bruised.
Tubular, showy orange flowers grow in tiered whorls around the top half of long, upright stems. Blossoms appear on new wood, so pruning is beneficial not only for shaping of the plant, but also to encourage more blossoms.
In frost-prone areas, prune early in the spring after danger of frost, as low as 6 inches from the ground. (Wait until late fall in more temperate areas.) Once flowers have faded, deadhead back to ground level.
Lion’s tail, which can be massed with plants such as and salvia, can be used in beds and borders, planted in front of walls or grown in containers on patios in full sun.
Got a gardening question?
In San Luis Obispo, call 805-781-5939; Arroyo Grande, 805-473-7190, and Templeton, 805-434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. To request a tour of the garden, call 805-781-5939.