All summer long I am asked to ID plants for people. As a public horticulturist I enjoy and take great pride in educating the masses but that's not to say I don't still get tired of repeating the same short list by the season's end. That's a Dahlia, that's Gomphrena, that's Canna which is not the same as a canna lily, and so forth and so on. But the ID question I've gotten more than any other the last week or two is linked to one of my all-time favorite annuals so I had to share.
Leonotis leonurus is commonly called lion's ear.
This fabulous plant is native to South Africa (Zones 10-11) and is therefore just an annual option for us here in New York. But the durable stems and lance shaped leaves and these unbelievable orange, tiered blossoms I will never tire of and never hesitate to spend money on, even if only for a few months time.
Plant leonotis along with your annuals in spring and in full sun watch it grow to be a few feet tall and wide and full of flower by late summer. It might take a little while to get situated and bloom for you but trust me, so worth it!
Above you can see that near a little dappled shade the flower is not quite as prolific but the plant still packs a valuable punch.
After all the tending and care, I can't tell you how much I love the small fuzzy orange blossoms that emerge slow enough for you to really appreciate every aspect of this South African gem. The late summer contrast of the rich green leaves and the bright poppy orange that explodes forth - Ooooh weee!
Leonotis leonurus, you're welcome! ;-)