The bright orange blooms of wild dagga flower petals (Leonotis leonurus) make this plant a popular garden feature. It's an easy-to-grow perennial that thrives in warm weather, but it can be a little fussy about soil conditions.
Native to South Africa, Leonotis leonurus is also known as klip dagga or lion's ear. It grows in rocky grassland habitats throughout the Cape provinces and parts of Natal. The flowers are a striking sight during fall, with their whorls of bright orange clusters. Other varieties may produce yellow, white, or red flowers. Leonotis nepetifolia is sometimes called Hawaiian dagga, although it's not as common in gardens.
Like its cousin, klip dagga, the flowers have been used for their medicinal and psychoactive properties. They are a natural relaxant, sedative, and antidepressant. They can be used in teas, made into decoctions and infusions, or smoked in a pipe or joint.
Wild dagga is easy to grow in well-drained loamy soils that are rich in compost and/or manure. The plant is tolerant of moderate frosts and can be overwintered in cold climates. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or by dividing large clumps. In winter, Leonotis leonurus plants should be heavily mulched, as they go dormant and the roots are vulnerable to freezing temperatures. In the spring, the mulch can be removed to stimulate regrowth of the new summer season's growth. Wild dagga has excellent hepatoprotective properties, and it is thought to help protect against viral hepatitis and jaundice.