Monday, October 8, 2007

Plant of the Moment-Orthosiphon labiatus

Very popular as a garden plant in South Africa, this long blooming member of the mint family forms a 3’ x 3’ shrub topped by showy, 1”, pink, tubular flowers held in whorls on many upright stems. Easy & fast growing in rich, composty garden soil. It’s also extremely drought tolerant once established but looks much prettier with regular water. Excellent used in mass planting in large beds or parks. In a small garden use singly or in small groups. Cut back to 1/3 height every couple of years to keep it fresh looking. Attracts butterflies

Last week I was in the greenhouses helping a customer ID a sprig that she brought in from a small tree growing in her yard. It looked like a hardy, bitter orange that we had talked briefly about on the gardenweb a couple of days before hand. I've actually have the same bitter orange growing in a pot outside for a couple of years now. I just couldn't remember the botantical name that day or where it was located in the greenhouses. All I could remember is that it was referred to as Flying Dragon. The customer and I went into the greenhouses but I could not locate the plant so she mentioned the computer and I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it first so I googled and found the name of the plant she was trying to identify, Poncirus trifoliata, Flying Dragon. But poncirus trifoliata is not what we are talking about today.

While in the greenhouses with the customer I got a tad bit distracted when I glimpsed a haze of pink blooms in a row ahead. Of course I was intrigued and I googled. I was disappointed to see that Orthosiphon labiatus is only hardy to zone 9. Hum, I thought.... I've pushed a zone or two before and this is certainly a worthy plant to try it with so today I will plant three Orthosiphon labiatus. I will try them in a west facing bed up against the side of my house. In this bed I've had good luck with another zone 9 plant which remains evergreen all though winter.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the plants...i hope they dont kick the bucket.....

Anonymous said...

Please keep the blog up! I will check on you regularly now that I know that you have it!