Leonotis Species, 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
View this plant in a garden



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


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

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (dark red)


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Montevallo, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Alamo, California

Amesti, California(2 reports)

Belvedere Tiburon, California

Brentwood, California

Ceres, California

Citrus Heights, California

Corralitos, California(2 reports)

Elkhorn, California(2 reports)

Encinitas, California

Fairfield, California

Fortuna, California

Grass Valley, California

Grover Beach, California

Interlaken, California(2 reports)

Lake Forest, California

Livermore, California

Los Angeles, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Martinez, California

Menifee, California

Merced, California

Napa, California

Oakley, California

Pajaro, California(2 reports)

Pittsburg, 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

Watsonville, California(2 reports)

Alford, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Bokeelia, Florida

Fountain, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida(5 reports)

Lynn Haven, Florida(2 reports)

Naples, Florida

Navarre, Florida

North Fort Myers, 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

Radcliff, Kentucky

Zachary, Louisiana

Orono, Maine

Brighton, Massachusetts

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

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beaverton, Oregon

Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania

Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Beaufort, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Greenville, 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(2 reports)

Temple, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sandy, Utah

Willis, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Cheyenne, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 8, 2020, Tracee from Tulsa, OK wrote:

I'm in Tulsa OK. I started this from seed indoors on a heat mat in Feb. 2020. I planted them out in late April as tiny little sprigs. They did not bloom until they were very robust specimens of up to 10 feet tall. I think they started blooming at 7 feet. It is almost mid December and we've had a light frost as usual in Oct. which did not hurt them. They are still blooming beautifully. I did not notice that the hummingbirds had that much interest here. They prefer the morning glories, salvias and cardinal vines. Also the Vitex and to my surprise the English ivy flowers. This will be my first year to try to overwinter the Leonotis in the ground. I intend to place several full bags of oak leaves atop them starting in January. I'm not going to cut them to the ground-maybe to 2 foot sturdy sta... read more


On Jul 12, 2017, Historybuffaz from Anthem, AZ wrote:

I have one planted in my backyard. It was doing well until we hit the low 100s in north Phoenix (high desert). I've shaded it, but it's not doing well at all. I'm watering daily because when I watered every other day it looked worse. Any ideas on what to do? Should I cut it back and cut off the dead blooms?


On Mar 30, 2017, bosbriguy from Brighton, MA wrote:

I live in Boston, Ma, although they aren't a perennial here, they have always grown to 10ft tall for me, very uniform, absolute monsters by the first frost. They grow very fast and seeds are plentiful. Each plant had literally hundreds of flowers and they blew my neighbors away. The color was a dark orange/red and really brought in the hummingbirds, they would be swarming above my head while I gardened. I should see if I can find some old seeds lying around and bring them back into my garden. They were high maintenance because of their size, but nothing that spectacular is without work. I paired them with castor plants that grew 7ft and 6ft cleome on the south side of a white house, the rabbits ate everything else.


On Sep 28, 2015, propensity from London,
United Kingdom wrote:

This plant is mentioned in Sir Joseph Banks diary 1769 to 1771 while Botanist on Endeavour on Cooks 1st Voyage of Discovery. While visiting The Cape of Good Hope he writes of the locals;

"Smoaking is a custom most generaly usd among them, in doing which they do not as the Europeans admit the smoak no farther than their mouths but like the Chinese suck it into their Lungs, where they keep it for near a minute before they expire it. They commonly mix with their Tobacco the leaves of Hemp which they cultivate for that purpose or Phlomisleonurus which they call Dacha."


On Aug 2, 2015, Tyson0222 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Please advise: Our two lions tale plants survived our winter and are beautiful and bushy, measuring 4'x4'. This year they have not produced a single bloom.

Any suggestions?

We're in zone 8.




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.


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.


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.


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


On Jun 29, 2011, FLStu from Effingham, SC (Zone 8a) 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.


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.


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.


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?


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 ??


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


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.


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 ... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. : )


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.


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!


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

Very easy, and the hummers love it!


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.



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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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 perennia... read more


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,


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.


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.


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... read more


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)


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.