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PlantFiles: Lion's Ear, Lion's Tail, Wild Dagga
Leonotis leonurus

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Leonotis (lee-on-OH-tis) (Info)
Species: leonurus (lee-on-or-uss) (Info)

Synonym:Phlomis leonurus

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

90 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Floridian
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There are a total of 36 photos.
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31 positives
11 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive debylutz On Jan 31, 2015, debylutz from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is definitely an attention-getter. I love the fuzzy orange mint-like flowers and so do the hummingbirds. This past year is my first experience with the plant. I believe, as others have said, that it is best as a specimen in the garden where, during its blooming season, the flowers may be enjoyed up close. In larger gardens, it could make an interesting seasonal border. My lion's tail is looking a little sad this time of year, but I think with a hard pruning, it will thrive once the weather warms up.

Positive otter47 On Sep 30, 2013, otter47 from Livermore, CA wrote:

We have two large specimen plants of lion's tail at our Sensory Garden in Pleasanton, CA. The plants always attract attention for their form and unusual color of the flowers. It is easily grown, not requiring lots of irrigation water. We prune it back heavily each year to maintain a reasonable size, and the plant responds with new blooming new growth. It is at its best in late summer and autumn.

Positive PedricksCorner On Sep 23, 2012, PedricksCorner from Freedom, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Grows very well in drought tolerant groups, but does better with food and water. Best of all, the deer don't eat it!! So we are considering using it as a hedge around the veggie patch next year.

Positive samiam1 On Sep 3, 2012, samiam1 from Willis, VA wrote:

I planted this plant from seedlings. It has grown over 7 feet and has many blooms. i plan to harvest seeds and grow again in the spring.I only found out about its properties when I tasted a leaf... my mouth went numb. One of its names is toothache plant. I am in the mts of SW va

Positive FLStu On Jun 29, 2011, FLStu from Lowell, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

Our winter got down to several days hard freezes into the mid teens these past two years, and the plants came back from the rootball. I'd add zone 8b, 9a and 9b to the list as some of the venders have them listed.

Positive annlof On Feb 20, 2011, annlof from Camarillo, CA wrote:

In Zone 10 this plant makes a pretty large xeric shrub which blooms for most of the year. Our leonitis self-sows prodigiously, but the seedlings usually appear close to the base of the parent plant and are easily weeded out, if desired. I try to prune about 30% off my leonotis in the fall to keep them in bounds. In our cool maritime climate, this plant is very drought-tolerant, thriving with a deep soaking once every three weeks in the summer (with no supplemental rainfall.) Also a real magnet for hummingbirds.

Neutral 1e9l3h7 On Jun 28, 2010, 1e9l3h7 from Rio Rancho, NM wrote:

Planted two last year,one in a pot moved to a sheltered location over the winter survived the other in the ground did not. survivor getting fower buds late june
West Mesa from Albuquerque,nm.

Neutral Ellen8 On Jun 16, 2010, Ellen8 from Berkeley, CA wrote:

CURLED LEAVES on my lion's tail--

in three different nurseries in the San Francisco bay area, the lion's tail's leaves were all curled. One nursery thought it may have been from cold. I have examined them thoroughly, but am still afraid to plant them in case there is something that will infect other plants. Does anyone know the cause of the leaf curl?

Neutral floridakicksass2 On Jan 6, 2010, floridakicksass2 from Marco Island, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Does anyone know:
How many months (max) does this plant bloom per year in a tropical climate Zone 10-12 ??

Positive fauckland On Dec 2, 2009, fauckland from Longmont, CO wrote:

I would like to add Cheyenne, Wyoming to the list of locations that Lion's Tail "Staircase" was grown. I was at the Cheyenne Botanical Garden this past summer. Lion's Tail held a prominent place in several of the gardens. It went well with Verbena Bonariensis, Indian Summer Black Eyed Susan and Purple Echinacea Cone

Neutral terrora On Jul 29, 2009, terrora wrote:

I've had one in a pot for over five years. It stopped blooming but greened up really nice. Then it got really woody, but after reading some of the comments here, it dawned on me that I wasn't cutting it back in the fall or spring. I noticed new growth and promptly cut the woody part out and it has been doing nicely. No blooms yet, but probably next spring for sure. When it did bloom the humming birds loved them. So prune first before you tear it out completely.

Positive wingsandblooms On Jul 27, 2009, wingsandblooms from Saint Matthews, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I purchased this plant (and I don't know which variety it is) nearly 15 years ago while on a trip to Florida to Butterfly World. I was told it would not survive the winter here as we live near the dividing line between Zones 8 and 7 almost in the middle of South Carolina. However, I planted it right in front of our house with an eastern facing so I guess it has had some protection. It does die back over the winter, but comes right back in late spring producing more and more shoots each year and blooms prolifically in September and October until frost. I hope to learn (by experimenting) this year how to propogate it. I will try to collect some seeds, but I will also try to take some cuttings and will try to cut off and separate some of the stalks at the roots. I just love it and have some neighbors who would like me to share it with them.

Positive maramouse On Jun 18, 2009, maramouse from Llano, TX wrote:

I now have two varieties of this plant (also known as Lion's Tail, Wild Dagga). My first (going on its 2nd year in the garden) has the long slender leaves. It wintered well here in the Texas Hill Country with a mulching. I just planted the second variety which has small round - almost scalloped leaves. The bloom ball on this plant appears a little coarser than the plant with the slender leaves. I would appreciate any assistance with the names of the two varieties and any other information regarding the differences, uses and origins.

Positive blueskyfd11 On Jun 15, 2009, blueskyfd11 from Harrison Valley, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love growing unusual plants and trees and this plant is such an eye catcher! Last year I grew it in part sun part shade and it did well. When the plants get about 2-3 in. I cut off the next set of new leaves that come on so it branches out, then cut those as they grow to fill out the plant more. This year it is growing in full sun.

Positive crazymary On Apr 20, 2009, crazymary from Lodi, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Came back from an 11 degree freeze here two years ago. Reseeds slightly and becomes a little woody at the base, but overall a great plant for a hot, dry site. Hummingbirds love it.

Positive margie_b On Nov 1, 2008, margie_b from Swarthmore, PA wrote:

I grew L. leonurus from seed indoors in the spring of 2008. From an early June planting out, the 7-8 plants grew to about 7-8' tall and bloomed from early October to frost. They are spectacular even before they bloom!
I plan to pot up a few of them to winter over in my 40 deg. greehouse. Perhaps they will even root from cuttings in the spring to increase my supply.
I will replant them next year in both my garden and in a public garden which I manage. Maybe they will start blooming earlier from that headstart.

Positive BlueGlancer On Apr 23, 2008, BlueGlancer from South/Central, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I grow this in 9a. (Florida) It went through a few hours of below freezing temperature, and only killed the blooms. It bounced right back and bloomed again. It's one of my favorite plants. : )

Positive tabby7 On Jan 12, 2008, tabby7 from Alford, FL wrote:

Another name for this delightful plant is Lion's Paw. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to it. Blooms for a long period of time - early in spring, during summer's heat and, before our recent "hard freeze" again in December. Children love it for the fuzzy blooms, the beautiful color and it's unforgettable name.

Positive WUVIE On Oct 23, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

While I love the unique look of Leonotis, I tend
to prefer leonurus over nepetifolia for it's bushier
habit, whereas nep is often tall and somewhat lanky.

Very interesting plant!

Positive mrs_colla On Sep 23, 2007, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Very easy, and the hummers love it!

Positive JaxFlaGardener On May 22, 2007, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grows beautifully in full sun with regular irrigation in the "Savanna Blooms" South African exhibit at the Jacksonville, Florida, Zoo and Gardens. The climate here is borderline 8b/9a. The plant dies back in Winter, but recovers quickly and is now in full bloom in Mid-May. It has reseeded itself freely around the parent plants.

But.... what part of the plant resembles a lion's ear?? I've also heard it called "Lion's Tail" which makes a bit more sense for a common name.


Positive LHCstudent On Mar 26, 2007, LHCstudent from Portland, ME wrote:

We use this plant at the University of Maine in Orono. It is possible to grow it up there if it is well protected and in full sun. I think it works nice as when planted in a cluster in the center of a circular privacy garden. Pretty unique.

Positive Joy On Oct 25, 2006, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've grown this plant from seed as an annual in my zone 8b garden. This year I'm planning to cut it back and over-winter it in my un-heated growroom. I've had very good results wintering over lots of other zone 9+ plants in this fashion. I hope it will work fine with this one as well.

Positive zville123 On Nov 23, 2005, zville123 from Zanesville, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I've grown this plant for several years. It's the talk of the neighborhood. I harvest the seeds to share with those I know and to grow new plants the following year. I prefer the way this plant fills out to L. nepetifolia. But I still grow both.

Positive LarryDavid On Jul 28, 2005, LarryDavid from Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 5b) wrote:

Very unique and interesting plant. I love to grow lion's ear for the comments I get from neighbors. Great annual (in my zone).

Negative edfinney On Jul 7, 2005, edfinney from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful flowers and it grows well here but plant is very large and takes up much to much room in my garden where space is at a premium. I have NEVER seen a butterfly upon it. So, I plant to shovel prune mine soon.

Positive CatskillKarma On Jan 31, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I tried to grow this plant from seed as an annual on my balcony in Brooklyn NY several years ago. Only one plant managed to flower, and that was around Thanksgiving (mild winter that year!) but it was spectacular when it did. It did not come back in the spring.

Positive kviolette On Jan 30, 2005, kviolette from Raleigh, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant has been growing in my Raleigh NC (Zone 7b/8a) garden without special protection for the last four years. We have seen temps as low as 10 deg at least once a season over that same period and it has returned each year although rather late in the season. I got this plant from an Oct. JC Raulston Arboretum giveaway, planted it in Oct and it has been doing well since. I do not know if it is a special cultivar bred for cold hardiness. That first winter (2000-2001) was very mild by NC standards which may have been a stroke of luck (pelargoniums returned in the spring that year). Spring planting under normal circumstances would be a wise choice to bolster the cold hardiness. I was unfamiliar with the plant at the time.

The leonitis behaves as an herbaceous perennial here and grows to about 3feet including the bloom stalks. It blooms in late Sept and Oct until the first killing frost. It is planted at the top of a well drained bank on the dry side. No fertilizer is used, only an annual mulching with shredded bark mulch. This year I have piled leaves on top and am waiting to cut it back in the spring to see if it comes up earlier than the past.

This is a great plant for its late season interest. Summer's last hurrah in my garden.


Positive branka On Oct 29, 2004, branka from Hobart, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I live in NW Indiana, zone 5a just outside of Chicago so you know what kind of winters we have here. I planted seedlings in the spring of 2003 and it survived the winter and grew like a champ the summer of 2004. I don't know if the original plant survived or if it reseeded itself but I hope it does the same thing in 2005,

Positive revjca On Oct 5, 2004, revjca from Austin, TX wrote:

love this plant! beautiful and has gone through 3 bloom cycles from the beginning of june to the beginning of october. easy to grow in decent soil with decent drainage. also, the flower petals are a traditional smoke of an african tradition, quite mild. i've also been told that it is deer resistant, but i have not experimented there yet.

Positive michele_inla On May 4, 2004, michele_inla from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

This is a very spectacular plant, with beautiful flowers. I bought two of them, at separate times. Both went through an initial growth spurt, but then seemed to wither up and die. The first plant suddenly came back to life, and the second never recovered. Only difference was that the one that survived had some shade.

Positive lien On Jan 25, 2004, lien from Santa Rosa Beach, FL wrote:

I started several plants from seed in my greenhouse in 2/03. by july/03 they were in my flower patch and 8-10feet tall, widely branched, almost forming a thick hedge. I needed the space in my garden and planted some of the smaller ones in a very poor area in my front yard in full sun. It is now 1/25/04, and i am happy to report that they are blooming more then ever, eventhough we have had many freezes (28 F having been the coldest). I have not taken care of them since I stopped watering in september. They have adapted their shape from straight up to curving, even making curves 1" above ground, always with a flower or two (or three)at the end. The 1st and second flower pod will bloom but never the smallest one at the tip. Has anyone had the same experience? I will try to propagate them next month or so, but will leave them in place to see how they will make out. Possibly a perrenial in NW Florida's Gulf Coast?

Positive 20yrPlantDude On Dec 28, 2003, 20yrPlantDude wrote:

Very fast-growing shrub. Grows full size in about 2-4 yrs. Cut down to about 20 cm tall after flowering finished. Can also grow from cuttings in early summer. Very drought-resistant (I never water mine)

Positive RichSwanner On Dec 27, 2003, RichSwanner from Citrus Heights, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

As one can see by my pictures this is a beautiful plant.It grows straight up and out. I thought as with most of my shots, what would a hummingbird, or bee see? These were taken with a 1.3 megapixel camera. I have a Nikon 35mm slr, but this is my first venture into digital. I have found you can grow anything at anytime of the year here(9a). This is a S. Africa native, thru Hawaii. Almost all plants that say cape in their name can take cold to 25 degrees or less. Look for those if you like this one.

Neutral cynthiac On Oct 20, 2003, cynthiac from Watauga, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I just got seeds from another gardener. I can't wait to see these bloom in my garden!

Neutral soilsandup On Aug 7, 2003, soilsandup from Sacramento, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted this in my yard last year and it was doing quite well. It started to flower in June of this year, but then the branches started to die off one by one. By late July, the whole plant was dead. I do not know why. I don't think that it is due to underwatering or overwatering since everything around it was fine.

Neutral Muzikatz02 On Aug 2, 2003, Muzikatz02 from Johannesburg
South Africa wrote:

I have just bought this plant today, and hope to be planting it in my garden tomorrow. It produces a lot of nectar and draws a lot of unusual wild birds.

The color of the flower (unnoticed by our own human eyes) contains pigments which are recognised from afar by these birds. It is one of the best plants for bird watching.

Progress report 19.09.2003: About three weeks ago we had a severe frost spell (with below-zero temperatures) for about 4-5 days, which killed off the 2 shoots the plant had. But it quickly responded by sending up a new shoot, which is already beginning to flower bright orange again.

Neutral Crimson On Feb 3, 2003, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I loved this plant and would grow it again... in a warmer zone. The stems are very strong and woody. I started them indoors, but even doing that they barely made it to start blooming before hard frost... zone 4 is just too short and I can't bring them in over the winter.

Positive tjoslyn On Jan 14, 2003, tjoslyn from Robbinsdale, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I brought three Lion's Ear plants back to Minnesota from California in June 2002. They started as 2-3" plants, and have since been repotted twice to larger pots. At the time I had to bring them indoors for the winter, they were almost four feet, and one of them got a very quick flower.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Dec 10, 2002, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I just got this plant this spring for the butterfly/hummer garden and like it so far. It started out in March '02 in a 2 inch pot and has grown to about 4 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide over 10 months. I haven't added any fertilizer beyond the compost I mixed into the planting hole when I installed it. So far it has not been damaged by the cold weather (down to around 38) and I haven't had any fungus problems.

Neutral dtcb On Nov 7, 2002, dtcb wrote:

Growing this plant now. 3 months and the plants are on average 2 feet in height. Live in a humid tropical climate so the plants are doing ok (seem to have a spore issue right now.)

Neutral Ulrich On Oct 13, 2002, Ulrich from Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

Courtesy of 'Troy':

Perennial if protected from freezing, grown as an annual in the temperate north. Native of South Africa. Highly decorative, with tall, whorled spikes holding arrays of long-tubed and curving orange flowers that resemble lion's ears. Hummingbirds love them.

Internally, the tea of the dried leaves is taken to treat headache, bronchitis, high blood pressure and the common cold.

Cultivation: Extra care. Start early. Germ. in 5-9 days. Plant prefers fertile soil, regular watering and full sun. Space 1 or 2 feet apart. Flowers to 5 feet.

Neutral bleu On Aug 4, 2002, bleu wrote:

An attractive addition to the perennial garden, can be used as a backdrop for shorter flowers or a stand-alone planting along walkways.

The stems bear whorled clusters of tubular-shaped orange flowers resembling a lion's ear. Also called Lion's Tail because blossoms have long tapering stems.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Amesti, California (2 reports)
Belvedere Tiburon, California
Brentwood, California
Ceres, California
Citrus Heights, California
Encinitas, California
Fairfield, California
Fortuna, California
Lake Forest, California
Livermore, California
Los Angeles, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Martinez, California
Menifee, California
Merced, California
Napa, California
Oakley, California
Pleasanton, California
Redding, California (2 reports)
Riverside, California
Sacramento, California
Salinas, California
San Anselmo, California
San Bernardino, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Seaside, California
Stockton, California
Ukiah, California
Vacaville, California
Alford, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports)
Lynn Haven, Florida (2 reports)
Naples, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Port Orange, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Townsend, Georgia
Divernon, Illinois
Ewing, Kentucky
Zachary, Louisiana
Orono, Maine
Newtonville, Massachusetts
Maben, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Lynchburg, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Beaverton, Oregon
Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Beaufort, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Okatie, South Carolina
Saint Matthews, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Brownsville, Texas
Conroe, Texas
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)
Dripping Springs, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Georgetown, Texas (2 reports)
Grand Prairie, Texas
Grapevine, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Huntsville, Texas
Llano, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
New Waverly, Texas
Rockport, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Sandy, Utah
Willis, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Cheyenne, Wyoming

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