Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cat's Whiskers, Java Tea
Orthosiphon aristatus

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Orthosiphon (or-tho-SY-fon) (Info)
Species: aristatus (a-ris-TAH-tus) (Info)

Synonym:Ocimum aristatum
Synonym:Orthosiphon stamineus

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

40 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
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
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Light Blue
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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28 positives
7 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive zoyster On Feb 19, 2015, zoyster from Tyler, TX wrote:

I have grown this plant for over 15 yrs but always have to take cuttings in the fall as I have never even seen a seed on it. I forgot to take cuttinge a couple of years ago and finally found a fall plant to get some more cuttinge. Haven't seen it offered commercially although I haunt growing centers every year. I think the reason could be because if has to be matue to "show its stuff" and this is toward the end of the growing year. It also comes in a pale lavender but in my opinion the white is moe spectacular.

Positive darliam On Sep 12, 2014, darliam from La Grange, TX wrote:

Just purchased and planted a Cat's Whiskers a week ago. It's on the northwest side of the house where it gets lots of shade and so far it's doing great. I've renamed my plant my Bella bush, after my 1 1/2 year old boxer was ran over the morning after my purchase before I even got the plant in the ground. My pup had long white whiskers, thus my plant is now named Bella. I'm prayerful that I will have the plant for years and years and that I will be able to share cuttings with my kids when they have homes of their own. Thanks for all the tips on this plant. It's one that has an extra special meaning to me and I want to make sure I know how to care for it. Everyone's suggestions will surely help.

Positive NoviceNow On May 18, 2014, NoviceNow from Cinco Ranch, TX wrote:

I bought 6 plants (Orthosiphon stamineus Lamiaceae) October 2013. This winter was exceedlingly cold with freezing temperatures and strong north winds ( exposure for my plants) I covered plants , but didn't cover when winds were strong and temperature above freezing. All plants lost leaves and were thought to be gone. But to my surprise on Mother's Day all six plants have leaves and one with considerable new growth. These plants have nine lives. I bought the plants at Houston's Garden Club sale last fall.

Positive whenpigsfly On Apr 25, 2014, whenpigsfly from Willis, TX wrote:

I live north of Conroe/north of Houston and only had this plant for one season before the terrible freeze(s) killed it (it IS an annual). I understand it's supposed to reseed, but I haven't seen any evidence of seedings either.

I just found another source for the plant - Arbor Gate in Tomball - and chose the blue vs. the white I had last year (One of the "experts" at Arbor Gate told me to plant it in the shade...NOT first plant did beautifully in full sun.)

Plant is gorgeous, but it didn't attract bees/butterflies - at least not that I ever saw

Positive rockstargardene On Jun 22, 2013, rockstargardene from Coppell, TX wrote:

I have had this plant before and it does well in morning sun, here in North Texas. It is difficult to find but I just found a bunch in 4" pots at Strong's Nursery at 35 and Sandy Lake Road. I will plant one in a container I can bring inside and see if the other can survive in a warm spot in my zone 8a garden.

Neutral Laurie88 On May 25, 2013, Laurie88 from Douglasville, GA wrote:

Douglasville GA ... planted mostly sun last summer. My husband cut them almost to the ground when he thought they had died. Are they going to come back?

Positive RenayEllis On Apr 7, 2013, RenayEllis from Priceville, AL wrote:

We have this growing here in North Alabama - zone 7b-8a.

Neutral pkr On Oct 29, 2011, pkr from Jersey Village, TX wrote:

I only this week purchased this plant. I live in Jersey Village, a suburb of Houston, Texas. It is still in the pot waiting for its new home. I'm thinking morning sun, afternoon shade. But, formost the reason for the comment is to tell other Houstonians where I found the plant. Buds & Blossoms on Cypress North Houston has plants available. Saw it, couldn't resist it. Which is saying a lot when you've already run out of planting space. ~ gardening junkie that advertising? Not meant to be.

Positive janlark On Sep 28, 2011, janlark from Auburndale, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

In bloom, this plant is drop-dead gorgeous. Our four plants have a tendency to get chlorotic, and I don't think they're drying out, so I'm going to try some iron. Any other ideas? Our landscape, designed by a professional, contains three butterfly gardens but she put cat's whiskers only in one. Won't be the first time I modify a professional's design.

Positive ScootersYard On May 21, 2011, ScootersYard from Grapevine, TX wrote:

I planted 3 of these plants in a corner of the yard that remains somewhat wet and has been hard to plant. Our local nursery recommended it for just such a spot. It is thriving in filtered sunlight here in Grapevine Texas. Cannot wait to do some root cuttings and then collect seed pods!

Neutral bcua11 On Mar 7, 2011, bcua11 from Manila
Philippines wrote:

Botany: :
Slender, smooth or hairy undershrub, 30-60 cm high. Leaves in distant pairs, narrowed into the stalk, ovate, 5-10 cm long, pointed at both ends, coarsely toothed margins. The flowers are borne in very lax racemes. The calyx is bell-shaped, with a naked throat and two slender lower teeth. Corolla is 2.5 cm long, smooth, white or purplish, slender in the tube, and thrice as long as the calyx. Nutlets are oblong and compressed.

In thickets, at low and medium altitudes.

Parts utilized

Leaves contain a high percentage of potassium salts (0.7 gm in 100 grams of fresh leaves.
From dried leaves, a small amount of volatile oil and a bitter alkaloid, orthosiphonin.

Considered anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, diuretic and hypoglycemic.

Leaves used for gout and renal disorders.
Also used for its diuretic effect.
Poultice of leaves or chewed leaves stuffed onto painful tooth.
In Java, leaves made into tea for treatment of diseases of the kidney and bladder.
In South East Asia and Australia, frequently used for renal inflammation, kidney stones and dysuria.
In Malaysia, traditionally used for diabetes, kidney diseases, for hypertension and as diuretic.
Java Tea is derived from Orthosiphon aristatus, touted for its diuretic action, kidney flushing benefits for kidney and bladder stones.

Positive Veve On Sep 2, 2010, Veve from Murphy, NC wrote:

I am having to pull up all my plants to make room for "knock out" roses, but I collected zillions of seeds and hope to replant and start them in another part of my garden. I love this plant and it does very well in mostly shade on the North side of my house under the porch eave. I live in Murphy NC and it thrives here.

Neutral stephem On Nov 2, 2007, stephem from Virginia Beach, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Love this plant. It's pretty and unusual. The leaves do have a bit of a smell. I bought mine at the Norfolk Botanical Garden's spring sale. It's suppose to be tender here in VB. I planted it this spring in morning sun/afternoon shade. I give it average watering, fed it maybe twice and that is babying at all. It's big and doing nicely. I've seen bees on it, but no butterflies (i do have other butterfly plants). so I have my fingers crossed that it will survive our winter. I did take a cutting to root - easy peasy. I'll update this post if it makes it or not next spring.
Oops, I transplanted it in the fall. Didn't make it. But I took a cutting and am going to try again.

Positive suzanne_v On Jul 28, 2007, suzanne_v from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

This plant consistantly gathers compliments in my garden, and I've shared quite a bit of it. I find that it handles the spring droughts without any watering just fine here in St. Pete, once it is well established. Until then, it can be a bit demanding. I do have to keep pulling out the plant where it spreads into my lawn by rooting from any stems that lie on the ground.

Positive biskutmkr On Dec 10, 2006, biskutmkr from Crystal River, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I bought this plant at Home Depot because of the beautiful blooms and because I love cats. Put it in my garden earlier in the year and all during the spring, summer and fall, it produced beautiful flowers. I deadheaded the dead ones and threw them away. But, after reading the other comments here, I will definitely save the seed heads and sow them in pots for more of this great plant. It has started getting yellow and straggly now that winter is close, so I cut it back. I noticed that some of the branches have rooted and I left them in the soil. I love this plant in white. Not so enthusiatic about the blue/purple variety. It isn't very easy to find, so when I do see some I will definitely buy another, or two. Highly recommend this plant. It lends a beautiful interest and contrast to any garden.

Positive shellabella On Aug 29, 2006, shellabella from West Central, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted this 2 months ago in June. It grew to 3 ft high and about 3-4 feet wide. I am amazed how fast it's grown.
I have had 2 bloom flushes. I cut off the blooms as they started to fade. Cuttings also root very quickly in water. Once the plant is established the hot florida sun doesn't seem to bother it. Mine gets sun from about noon till 4 pm.

Positive ForestExplorers On Feb 17, 2006, ForestExplorers from Penang
Malaysia wrote:

How can this plant be dangerous if it can be brew as tea? I personnally use the dried leaves to brew tea. The tea is light golden color and it is very effective for controlling diabeties. Normal people (like myself) without diabeties can also consume the tea without any side effect. It has cleansing effect on our kidney.
Plant is easily propagated by the cut stem. Easily grow and need sunshine and water.

Positive janetplanet On Oct 23, 2005, janetplanet from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

After reading the reviews I found 2 straggly cat whiskers not really blooming. I planted them and cut them back and also stuck some of the cuttings in the ground. All the cuttings grew but I didn't get any blooms for a couple months but now I'm hitting pay dirt and love this plant! All the stems are bearing flowers. I plan to cut all stems when they finish blooming and stick in the ground! A truly mesmerizing flower! easy to propagate.

Positive einaudi On Aug 26, 2005, einaudi from Hana, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

Like many others have noted above, given the right conditions (I live in Hana, Maui), Cat's Whiskers is an extraordinary plant - fast grower; quick to bloom; beautiful, ethereal flowers; and easy propagation. Pruning helps to keep my plants in bloom. I trim the cuttings, stick them in soil 6" deep, water daily for a week, then walk away! These are classic "cut-and-poke" plants.

Positive Stuber On Aug 4, 2005, Stuber from Fernandina Beach, FL wrote:

Yes, I'd try a phosphate "jolt" for blooming 'cause you're doing everything else right. Mine grow best with some direct sun here in N. Florida, but not all day (they may even do the "hydrangia droop" a bit, but come right back). If it's too shady blooming tends to be adversely affected. Short of standing in water, and if planted in a well drained area, I'd say you can't really over water these beauties. I think one of their best attributes is how well the white variety shows in the night garden. Most whites tend to do well in low light viewing situations, but for some reason, these flowers seem to really "jump out". Maybe it's the unusual pagoda shape of the bloom. A plant well worth growing, and will come back strong from the roots even after a good freeze. I'm not surprised by the zone 7 rating some are giving it.

Neutral Kathryn127 On Jun 29, 2005, Kathryn127 from Mandeville, LA wrote:

I grew this plant a few years ago and it performed beautifully! This year the plant is huge yet there are very few flowers. It has osmocote , sun, and enough water. I think I'll jolt it with some super phosphate! What do you think?

Positive meena On Dec 28, 2004, meena from Jakarta
Indonesia wrote:

They are pretty..but I'm amazed by this plant more to its medicinal ability, than the pretty look itself.
I happen to live in Indonesia, where you'd find them in most of people's gardens and bushes..since they've always been popular as traditional herbal remedies.. or in my father's case, bladder stones problems. Very powerful also, that we've actually had to cancel the rest of dad's medical appointments, including that laser treatment. just less than 2 months, of the everyday Cat's Whiskers 'tea' rituals. ^o^
.. pretty sure not toxic, too.. so far. :-)

Positive didee67 On Jun 25, 2004, didee67 from Tampa, FL wrote:

This plant was a gift and no one knew what it would be like until it sprouted. The local Home Depot didn't even know! I am happy to say that it has been in a pot in my garden for 2 growing seasons now and already this year has many white blooms. I have found that when they say full sun, they aren't refering to Florida sun. To end the wilting during the day and to conserve water, I moved the pot to a partial shade place under my tree and it just exploded with growth and blooms!

Last season I clipped all the whiskers off after they had finished blooming. I put them in a paper bag to dry out all winter. Before growing season this year, I crumbled up what was in the bag, added a little potting soil, and mixed it with the top layer of soil in the pot. This plant tripled in size! I have yet to take stalk clippings to make multiple plants, but after blooming season is in full progress, I am going to try it.

Positive s_taylor On May 13, 2004, s_taylor from Colleyville, TX wrote:

I ordered three plants from Sarasota Growers last year. They came in fairly good condition and bounced back abundantly. They are a fast grower and keep growing and growing... I live in north Texas and they did fine with a little shade relief when it got too hot.

Positive nightangel On Apr 21, 2004, nightangel from Arlington, TX wrote:

I had this plant several years ago - it was beautiful
It grew like crazy and any piece I pulled off and stuck in the ground or a pot grew. I had it in all my flowerbeds from pieces i pulled off and just stuck in the dirt - it was great!
After the winter it never came back - I was sure it would drop seeds or something but I never saw it again :-(
I have looked for it ever since and have never seen it anywhere, couldnt even find it on the web until I found this here. I wish I could find seeds for it or another plant somewhere.
I read it belongs to the mint family but it looks like salvia with whiskers to me :-)

Positive pyritesam On Apr 9, 2004, pyritesam from Houston, TX wrote:

This has been a beautiful perennial in my garden for 4 yrs. now - I have one purple and one white plant - both look a bit bedraggled in the winter, but come back nicely each spring . I live in Houston,Tx.

Positive SILady On Apr 4, 2004, SILady from Enterprise, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Zone 9b, Stone Island Florida - We didn't have a freeze this year so it's still there! Looks a little sad, but will do fine I'm sure. Beautiful in bloom.

Positive TerriFlorida On Nov 7, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

Very interesting Cat's Whiskers notes, thank you all. I have a big beautiful white one after killing one several months ago. They do not like being dry! Yet -- the one planted and doing great is in a well drained spot, and it is managing to compete successfully for attention with its too-close neighbor, the 7' tall forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis 'Durham'). It's much shorter, but it's just as striking!

I will try cuttings. And I will get the purple form available as well. I have not noticed butterflies mugging it, but I have so many plants they like that it's no surprise they might ignore one.

Positive AmyNTwan On Nov 7, 2003, AmyNTwan wrote:

This plant grows exceptionally well here in Hawaii, Zone 11. I found the one I have by just coming across it at a local plant sale and haven't been able to find any others here. I'm waiting for it to get larger to attempt to take cuttings.

Positive suncatcheracres On Nov 4, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have had a beautiful white flowered Cat's Whiskers in the ground for a few weeks now here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b. I bought it at a local plant nursery just a few miles away, and the owner, who seemed very knowledgable, told me Cat's Whiskers will overwinter in the ground here despite its origins as a medicinal herb in Southeast Asia--India, Malaysia and Indonesia--where it is called "Tea of Java." In Figi it is naturalized along road sides, besides streams and in wet places. She told me to clip off the dying flowers, and it will keep blooming.

On the internet I found a wholesale provider of "quality cuttings to the trade" in Gainesville, Florida, who lists this plant as hardy to zone 7, and advises plant nurseries to use constant, liquid, complete fertilizer and heavy watering to grow cuttings to a "finished" 6" pot, so when I take my own cuttings next year I will do the same.

This plant is outstanding in a low spot in a bed with other water lovers like white ginger lilies and Louisiana iris 'Black Gamecock,' which is a deep purple color with a golden "signal" spot. The white flowers stand up high above the green leaves, and the plant can be seen from quite a distance away, despite its light, white flower color.

Positive aubieal78 On Nov 3, 2003, aubieal78 from Hermitage, TN wrote:

Since I live in Nashville, Tennessee (USDA Zone 6), I guess I should treat this plant as an annual or winter it over. I had planned to plant it, but had been dithering about its location due to the light and moisture requirements. It was gorgeous this summer in its pot, but it finally required that I place it in a small bucket to keep the large plant upright in winds, and to keep it moist enough. To be fair, I have it on the front porch which gets full hot afternoon sun, and it may not have needed as much watering had it been in the ground, and in a shadier place. Morning to noon sun would probably be best for it here in Middle Tennessee, unless used close to a water garden, even a boggy area in full sun.

I found the leaves had an odd odor when brushed up against; I can't place the smell, but it was kind of stinky. I would not place it close to a walking path where it would get brushed by passersby. I loved the look of the plant otherwise, and will try to locate one of the other colors next year. I bought this one ... in Huntsville, Alabama.

Positive Londade On Oct 15, 2003, Londade from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

I have been growing Cat's Whiskers for two years here in St. Petersburg, Florida. They are easy to propagate and share with friends. I cut about six inches pieces and put them directly into moist soil. I have a basket that has blooms all around the plant and it is more than 4 feet around. I take the cuttings after I cut the dead blooms off and it starts producing new growth. It makes the plant grow twice as many blooms every time I clip it - a fun and beautiful plant.

Positive moki123 On Sep 22, 2003, moki123 from Sanford, FL wrote:

We have grown this in our garden for the first time this year, and it has turned out to be the highlight/accent to our beautiful butterfly garden. It is easy to grow and draws butterflies as well as hummingbirds. You can propagate by taking semi-hardwood cuttings and placing in water to root. Will grow in shade/sun, or full sun.

We really love this plant.

Neutral demersb On Jul 10, 2003, demersb from Siler City, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I just got one down here in New Orleans, Louisiana (U.S.) because it was so eye-catching. I'd love to know how to propagate it.

Neutral Floridian On Oct 1, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Orthosiphon stamineus is an unusual plant for pots, containers or planted out in the garden. It features long white or blue flowers with long stamens (the "cat's whiskers") over glossy mid-green foliage. The plant is native to tropical eastern Asia. Of the family Lamiaceae, it is cultivated for its unusual flowers and as a remedy for urinary system ailments. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds also find this plant very attractive.


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

Auburn, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Decatur, Alabama
Lillian, Alabama
Joiner, Arkansas
Anthony, Florida
Apopka, Florida
Archer, Florida
Auburndale, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Bradenton, Florida (2 reports)
Brandon, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Clewiston, Florida
Cocoa, Florida
Deland, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (3 reports)
Gainesville, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Largo, Florida
Lithia, Florida
Mc David, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida (3 reports)
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
Titusville, Florida
Venice, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Zolfo Springs, Florida
Alpharetta, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Hana, Hawaii
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Kailua, Hawaii
Kihei, Hawaii
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Covington, Louisiana
Greenwell Springs, Louisiana
Houma, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Mandeville, Louisiana (2 reports)
Metairie, Louisiana
Monroe, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Zwolle, Louisiana
Natchez, Mississippi
Charlotte, North Carolina
Murphy, North Carolina
Beaufort, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Manning, South Carolina
York, South Carolina
Hermitage, Tennessee
Beaumont, Texas
Bulverde, Texas
Colleyville, Texas
Coppell, Texas
Grapevine, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Huntsville, Texas
Katy, Texas
La Grange, Texas
Lake Jackson, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Willis, Texas

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