80919It does not get much more orange than this. Lion’s tail, Leonotis leonurus, tends to start with a relatively light duty bloom phase in the middle of spring, and then continue blooming in increasingly prolific phases until it finally culminates with the most spectacular bloom phase of the year about now, late in summer or early in autumn. The bloom is about as bright orange as California poppy!

Deadheading and pruning between bloom phases is not as simple as it might seem. Cutting back too aggressively postpones the next bloom phase. Bloomed stems should instead be cut back just below the deteriorating blooms. This unfortunately allows maturing plants to get somewhat overgrown and in need of more severe pruning over winter, before their first bloom phase of spring.

By now, well blooming plants may be as tall as six feet. As they mature, plants tend to get a bit wider than tall. The narrow evergreen leaves are about three inches long. Bloom is typical of related salvias, with dense tufts of tubular flowers neatly arranged in tiers on upright stems. Lion’s tail just happens to bloom with distinctively wide floral tufts. Cultivars with yellow or white flowers are rare.

4 thoughts on “Lion’s Tail

    1. It is useful, and really should be more popular. It is not my favorite because the color is a bit too bright for me, but I think it totally rox for those who like bright orange. It is one of those many plants that makes me wonder about those who establish fads and trends.


    1. I still think of it simply as leonotis. I really like the specimen in my colleagues garden, and those in other landscapes, but I would find pruning it to be frustrating. I tend to prune salvias more aggressively than what lions’ tail wants.


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