Cat whiskers is a tender perennial that blooms all summer long in 5 inch spikes. The purple or white flowers of Orthosiphon aristatus feature long stamens which resemble a cat's whiskers.
They remind me of Cleome flowers.
The plant's ridged dark green leaves are thin and will wilt badly if it is planted in too much sun or if the soil becomes too dry. I have a plant at the edge of a shady wood which has survived years longer than the ones I planted in sunnier spots. I think the tall oaks protect it from our winter frosts.
Rich soil and regular watering will cause fast growth to 3 feet or more. Kitty whiskers will also spread a bit in time.
This makes starting new plants easy. Look around the base of the plant for stems that have fallen over and rooted. Dig these up and move them to other areas of the garden. Cuttings also root easily in water. Or just stick the cuttings into the ground and keep them moist for a while.
One nice thing about cat whiskers is that it doesn't need to be on a feeding schedule in order to bloom. Just feed it whatever/whenever you feed the rest of the bed it is planted in.
Butterflies often visit the cat whisker plant growing at the edge of our woods.
This plant is used in traditional medicine in South-east Asia where it is called java tea. The leaves only (other parts are toxic) are made into a tea which is used to treat kidney problems, diabetes and arthritis. It is diuretic and antispasmodic.
The leaves should be harvested for medicinal use while the plant is in bloom.*
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