September 12, 2023

Smoking Lion's Tail

Often called Wild Dagga or Wild Cannabis, lion's tail flowers are a delight to behold in the garden. It also gives a calming effect when smoked or brewed into a tea. This is why it's been used as an alternative to tobacco and as a replacement for cannabis for those who don't want to smoke the illegal psychoactive plant.

The shrub, which is a member of the mint family, is drought-tolerant and grows as an evergreen to 5-6 ft. tall with a broad spreading habit in warmer climates, but it's better suited as a perennial container plant or planted outdoors as an annual in US hardiness zones 9 through 11.

It can reach up to 2 meters in height in the wild and is a visual feast for its primary pollinators, birds, bees, and butterflies. The vibrant orange blossoms are grouped in whorls on square stems that stand out against the deep green leaves, and their sweet fragrance is intoxicating.


Leonotis nepetifolia prefers sandy, well-draining soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline. It does not require a lot of water but it must be kept moist throughout the winter and spring, especially during flowering. The frequency of watering should increase during the summer but never let the soil dry out completely.

This is an easy-to-grow plant that's tolerant of heat and can even withstand the sun, but it's easily damaged by frost and cold. To avoid the threat of frost, bring it indoors during winter or place it in a container that can be brought out in the spring and back inside again before the first frost.


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