Leonotis nepetifolia - Mint family
Germinating: Fill a plastic "6-pack" container to within 3/4" of the top with regular potting soil, and water it in. Place 2-3 seeds in each section and cover with 1/4" of soil. Water lightly, and place in a warm area (70-85 degrees F) with some air circulation.
When the seedlings emerge (4-8 weeks) place them 2" from a fluorescent lamp, or give them 2-3 hours sun per day. Gradually give the seedlings a little more sun each day. When they are 2" tall, cut off all but the healthiest one from each pot, and transplant each to a larger container (1 quart to 1/2 gallon is ideal), without disturbing the root-ball. Move them to sun if they're not there already. Water whenever the soil is dry 1-2" down.
When roots have circled around the bottom of the container, they are ready to be moved into the ground or to a larger container.
Feeding/Watering: Lion's Tail has relatively low fertilizer and watering needs. You can feed once a month with ordinary, complete fertilizer, following the dosage on the package. If many of the older leaves turn yellow, it probably means they need some more fertilizer (nitrogen), or that they aren't getting enough water.
Pruning: Lion's Tail has a strong upward growing habit. It can be pruned when young for a wider "candelabra" shape. Once a flowering branch is "spent", it can be removed to encourage new side branches to sprout from below it.
Harvesting seeds: When the flower heads start turning brown at the top, the seeds in the brown area are ready for harvesting. You'll get more seeds if you wait until the flower heads have turned at least 1/3 brown before cutting. To collect the seeds, just shake the flowers upside down over a white sheet.
Insects to watch for: spider mites (tiny "dots" under the leaves), whiteflies, scale, ants.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11.
Protect from frost. Grow as an annual in cooler zones, or prune back and grow indoors over the winter.
Lion's Tail may lose vigor after 2-3 years. If this happens, simply start fresh from seed.
Feel free to write with any questions.
Enjoy your plants!
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