Karen LaSarge is a gardener and contributor to State-by-State Gardening magazines.

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Lion’s Ear
by Karen LaSarge    


Few plants give so much for so little attention. Native to South Africa, Lion's Ear (Leonotis leonurus) is an annual flower that produces a fall display of riotous orange, fuzzy tubular blooms on long velvety stems. In USDA zones 8a and warmer, it is grown as a tender perennial. It successfully overwinters indoors.

The flowers are in compact clusters arranged in whorls around the stem, and are a beacon of nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies. White and apricot flower forms exist, but may be difficult to locate in retail markets. Fertilizing is beneficial, but many plants do well without it.

Deer purportedly avoid it. It's also fairly drought tolerant to boot, making it suitable for xeriscaping. As it can grow at a good rate by root suckers, it's a perfect plant to share with your friends. But who would want to?

It's winter hardy on the Gulf Coast, but persistent hard freezes in the low 20s may kill it. Mulch if temperatures are unusually low, and it may survive. It blooms more densely if cut back in the early spring. In most areas, think of it as an annual set to burst into fiery bloom, and you'll wonder how you ever planted a garden without it.





Botanical Name: Leonotis leonurus

Size: Approximately 4-6 ft. tall x 4 ft. wide

Sun Exposure: Full sun, light shade.

Water Requirements: More in summer, can take drought once established.

Zones: Hardy to Zone 8a. Grown as annual in colder climates.

Soil: Neutral pH, loamy well-drained soil.

Propagation: Seed, cuttings or dividing clumps.



Posted: 03/09/16   RSS | Print


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