Melianthus Species, Honey Bush

Melianthus major

Family: Melianthaceae
Genus: Melianthus (me-lee-AN-thus) (Info)
Species: major (MAY-jor) (Info)
Synonym:Melianthus himalayanus



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 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


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

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:

Huntsville, Alabama

Phenix City, Alabama

Arcata, California

Berkeley, California

Castro Valley, California

Chula Vista, California

Clayton, California

Davis, California

El Dorado Hills, California

El Sobrante, California

Encinitas, California

Fairfield, California

Ferndale, California

Fort Bragg, California

Gilroy, California

Huntington Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Los Angeles, California

Reseda, California

Rosedale, California

San Diego, California(2 reports)

San Francisco, California

San Jose, California

San Leandro, California

Silverado, California

Solvang, California

Tracy, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Brooksville, Florida

New Orleans, Louisiana

Deer River, Minnesota

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Portland, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Ladys Island, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Hallettsville, Texas

Bellevue, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Vashon, Washington

White Center, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 18, 2018, cathysage from Anchorage, AK wrote:

The seeds are quite expensive but I have found a way to get 100% germination.
I take a nail file to the seed and scratch off just the outer layer of the seed in about a 1/8" circle. I soak them in water for a few days then plant. Germination begins in about 4 weeks but it takes a few weeks for them all to germinate. I start in mid February for planting out on June 1 in Alaska. A lovely container plant with grasses around the edge.
Also discovered it is an herb. It has been used to treat snake bites and a violet dye is obtained from the flowers. Mine have not flowered in our short season.


On Dec 1, 2015, siege2055 from Stilwell, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Rating as Neutral for now because although I have found Melianthus easy to germinate if given cool temps (Warm temps had no germination), I can't keep them alive past the seedling stage.

Update 12/18/2015

Started another batch in cool temps, germinated very quickly. This time in case it was drainage issues I started them in palm and cactus mix instead of seed starting mix, but kept them watered. They were growingvery well until today, one seedling is laying on its side dying, the stem is not crimped so does not look like damping off. I cannot figure out what is causing this, do they need cool temps even when sprouted? I guess I am going to have to end up buying an adult plant, I cannot get these past the seedling stage. I am removing the remaining seed... read more


On Jan 8, 2013, Oxytone from Marina, CA wrote:

I give this a positive because at our old house, in the years it was in the ground, this was quick to shoot upward, but slow to spread outward. I never saw seedlings come up from the plant, and suckers only traveled a few inches from my plant. This plant is also very easy to grow from quite hefty cuttings, although it will take a while before those get established and vigorous.

I am growing this again at the new house, and it is growing in sand, and will not be kept moist year round (perhaps that's the key?). Either way, this is an attractive shrub with very silvery blue green foliage with a very architectural quality to the shapes of the leaflets (like regular saw teeth).

Melianthus can grow quite tall unless cut back. I had let my original plant grow stems... read more


On Jul 29, 2012, huntbeachgarden from Huntington Beach, CA wrote:

My plants are growing very well in Zone 10 - Coastal Southern California.

However, I am having continuous trouble with a sooty-like smudge on the tops and underside of the leaves. I did have a significant white fly infestation that is now gone by diligent use of soapy water.

Does anyone have any tips for getting rid of the sooty-like smudge on the leaves? If left untouched, the leaves nearly are covered within about 2-3 weeks.

Thanks, Paula


On Oct 23, 2011, baiissatva from Dunedin,
New Zealand wrote:

zone nine, coastal otago new zealand.

Sorry to rain on the love-in about this nasty customer, and I don't hate many plants, but I detest this one passionately. It is a sneaky, toxic invasive weed in my large garden, here when we arrived and will probably survive the apocalypse- it'll ride in on it's own bloody horse alongside Famine and Pestilence!

Be very wary where you let this bugger go- it shows up all over, from dropped seed, tiny bits you missed, stray roots, suckers, you name it. Every spring it merrily creeps outward from a central redoubt, (tried to poison it but you can probably tell from my tone how successful that was) and would cover my half acre in a couple of years if left to it's evil devices.
It smells bad ( a nasty, gassy high pitc... read more


On Jan 2, 2006, growin from Beautiful, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Attractive serrated silver-green arching foliage on upright stems. The aroma of peanut-butter is a neat novelty. Prefers well-drained soil but enjoys a bit of water in the summer. Planted against a sunny wall, can usually expect it to survive winter. Seed propagation is very easy.


On Jul 9, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is so amazing! I love it alot, i planted it in my yard a few months back from a one gallon, it really hasnt grown much, but i noticed today that is started to shoot up new stems from the ground, i think it will be a nice bush when it fills in. I love the flower alot, it is very very nice and eye catching, the foliage is also eye catching..


On Jan 5, 2005, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Edgewood, Washington Got my plant from Heronswood nursery. It grew like crazy this past summer. I have it in a container now, am giving it protection form the extreme cold and wind. Possible that in the Spring will plant it in the ground near my hardy banana's .It so far has survived down to 24 degrees. Have been told to cut it down in the winter to get a bushier plant in the Spring, haven't done so yet. Thinking about trying to root the cuttings.


On Aug 27, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

There are 6 species of Melianthus, all of which are found in South Africa.

Kruidjie-roer-my-nie, which means herb-touch-me-not, is a well known plant in the south western Cape where it occurs naturally; usually along streams and roadside ditches.

The long flower-spikes grow out from the top of the stems in spring, rusty red flowers rise up above the leaves, followed by pale green, bladder-like pods containing the shiny black seeds.

In its native habitat it is used to make poultices and decoctions that are applied directly to wounds, bruises, backache and rheumatic joints.

Easy, fast growing shrub, prune for shape, attractive foliage, prefers sun with good drainage.