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Turquoise Puya

Lion's Tail

Are they space aliens??  Something from a Dr. Seuss book?  No, it's the very unusual Lion's Tail flower!  Lion's Tail (Leonotis nepetifolia) is a dramatic, easy-to-grow plant that's sure to grab peoples' attention in your garden!  This is one of my favorite bizarre flowers.  And the best part is that it blooms almost any time of year!

Leonotis Nepetifolia - Lion's Tail

The exotic, round flower clusters are 2-3 inches across, and stack themselves every 8-12 inches along tall stems, giving the appearance of an alien car antenna.  The plant grows quickly to about 6 to 8 feet tall if left unpruned.  This is a terrific background or accent plant, adding a bold splash of color anywhere you need it.  The rich orange flower tubes that emerge are furry - which of course explains the name "lion's tail".  You can pull out the tubes and suck on the sweet nectar inside!  Hummingbirds and butterflies love 'em!  The heart-shaped leaves resemble those of Catnip, hence the species name nepetifolia (Nepeta = catnip).  

Lion's Tail - Leonotis Nepetifolia

Lion's Tail is very easy to grow.  It's an evergreen perennial if protected from frost (zones 9-10).  In colder areas, you can grow it in a pot and bring it indoors over the winter.  Or just grow it as an annual each spring, saving the seed in the Fall.  It prefers full sun to a half-day of sun.  It's drought-tolerant once established, although it looks best with occasional watering and feeding.  It can bloom throughout the year in mild-winter areas.

In Africa, where this Mint relative originates, the flowers are smoked for a mild euphoric effect.  Personally, i use it as an intriguing dried flower for arrangements!  This is a fascinating and fun plant that everyone should grow.

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Detailed growing tips about this plant

 

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