Leonotis leonurus
Common Name: lion's ear
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Southern Africa
Zone: 8 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Orange
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-11. North of Zone 8, it is a good winter-flowering conservatory plant that can otherwise be somewhat tricky to grow. In St. Louis, this shrubby tropical plant may be grown as an annual bedding plant from seed sown each spring or as a tender perennial in containers that are overwintered indoors. If grown as an annual, seed should be started indoors in winter or sown in the garden before the last frost date for flowering in fall. If grown as a tender perennial, seed can be sown in containers which are moved outside after last frost date. If flowering occurs on container plants in fall, plants may be overwintered in bright sunny locations with flowering continuing into winter. If container plants do not flower in fall, then they should be overwintered indoors in a cool location with bright light and returned outdoors after last frost date, with flowering usually occurring in late spring to summer. Cuttings may be taken in spring from overwintered plants or from garden plants in summer for overwintering. Plants are not particularly fussy about soil type, and are easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade. Likes regular moisture.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leonotis leonurus, commonly called lion’s ear, is native to South Africa. It is a tropical shrub that can grow rapidly to 3-6’ tall in a single season from seed planted in the garden in early spring. Tubular two-lipped orange flowers (typical mint family) appear in tiered whorls that encircle the square stems. Flower petals purportedly resemble lions’ ears. Flowers bloom in fall from plants placed out in early spring. Oblanceolate to lance-shaped green leaves (to 2-4” long) are aromatic when bruised.

Genus name comes from the Greek words leon meaning a lion and ous or otis meaning an ear in reference to the corolla that could look like a lion's ear.

Specific epithet means lion's tail.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for whiteflies and spider mites, particularly on overwintering plants.

Garden Uses

Annual for borders. Container plant.