Beautiful fall color for the garden.

The Lion's Tail bush.

Years ago, fall was my least favorite season: my kids were going back to school; gloomy skies, rain, snow. That was before my teaching years, and before retirement and gardening. Now I welcome fall because it comes with a round of fresh brilliant blooms on plants that have held off all summer, and is a refreshing break from frequent watering and the extreme heat.

Fall has arrived with its own unique look and feel. Many of my flowers are re-blooming with the cooler temperatures: Roses, angel trumpets, lazy susans; however, newly blooming dahlias, asters, and the fall chrysanthemums have popped with gorgeous purple, burgundy, burnt orange and red colors.

This fall I’m especially enjoying my Lion’s Tail plant, also known as “wild dagga,” or “Lion’s Ear”. It has never looked more vigorous and healthier. The orangey blooms on tall stalks, waving in the breeze, have announced fall as no other plant in my garden. My Lion’s Tail, Leonotis leonurus, is about 3 to 4 feet tall with over two dozen stalks. It has been a great attractor for bees, butterflies and humming birds. My plant bloomed late summer, and will probably continue to bloom until December. I will let you know more as I make observations of my lovely plant.

On the tips of each stalk are two globes which look like a beehive as the tubular blooms fall off. Leonotis leonurus, Lamiaceae (Labiatae) is a member of the mint family of South Africa. Lion’s Tail fits our Zone 8-9 very well as it is drought tolerant with little water needed, and it grows in full sun. Some plant instructions indicate “full sun,” but it does not mean our full sun. This plant really does grow in full sun in well-drained soil.

If we have a rainy, rainy season make sure the water doesn’t collect at the base of this bush. The year I bought Lion’s Tail, I bought two, planted them nicely in big planters, and placed them by the back deck. Well, that year we had lots of flooding rain which drown out one of the plants. I was fortunate this one Lion’s Tail survived. In the late spring I planted the evergreen shrub in the ground.

At the end of blooming time, you can prune the dead stalks down to the new growth area, and for protection against cold, put mulch at the base of the plant. Also, at this time, you can shape up the plant by pruning those extended and lazy stalks. Cut those down to the stem. New growth may begin to emerge.

Lion’s Tails are used for ornamental arrangements, but burn the ends of the stems so the juices don’t drip out. Theoretically, you can make a tea of different parts of this plant for treatment of “tuberculosis, jaundice, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, diabetes, viral hepatis dysentery and diarrhea.” Now I would not try this without a lot of research and guidance by doctors! Another alleged use of leaves, roots and bark is to make a putrid potion so you can vomit after a “snakebite, bee and scorpion stings.” How does that help?

No one said Lion’s Tail is not interesting! I’m not even going to say why Leonotis leonurus is illegal in Latvia and Poland.

Red Bluff Garden Club members continue to carry on President Judy Paul’s theme of “Joy of Gardening” in our gardens while we wait and anticipate the time when we can meet safely in our regular monthly meetings again. Keep looking here in our Thursday articles and check us out on Facebook at Red Bluff Garden Club for the latest information. We share many garden and plant related items.

The Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., Pacific Region Garden Clubs, Inc. and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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