Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The lovely Cats whiskers;

Orthosiphon aristatus
Cat’s Whiskers is a tall, slender evergreen perennial growing up to 1.5 meters including the flower stalks. The spread is variable at 30 to 90cm per plant depending on home garden conditions. 
The flowers range from white through to light mauve or pink. 
 The ‘whiskers’ or stamens extend outwards up to twice as long as the flower itself, giving the impression of cat’s whiskers. Cat’s Whiskers flowers from late summer to autumn and is considered to be a bee, bird and butterfly attractant. 

The scientific name ‘orthosiphon’ refers to the upright tube shape of the flower and ‘aristatus’ means ‘with ears’. This plant is native to some tropical regions of Australia and South East Asia, spreading to East India, Indo China and Indonesia. 

Cat’s Whiskers is a fast growing plant that should do well in most gardens. It comes from a tropical climate, so replicating this environment with rich soil and good water supply will result in a healthy plant. Orthosiphon aristatus requires moist soil and it is best not to let the soil dry out too much. 
Most recommendations say it requires full sun, but this is not with the heat of Australian sunshine in mind. The plant will often wilt simply from the heat, so it is worth trying part shade or a few different places to see where it grows best. 

Pruning back flower stalks leads to improved performance the following year. It is easily propagated and may root in water or soil if left lying on the ground. Propagation is by soft wood cuttings or seed pods can be collected and dried in a paper bag for planting

I grow mine in a half shaded area together with this soft yellow Tecoma. They look very nice together  as they flower at the same time. The yellow colour from this Tecoma is not overpowering meets up and blends well with the soft mauve shade of the cats Whiskers. 

It is believed it has many medicinal uses, as its healing  history indicates. It is considered to be anti-hypertensive, diuretic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. 
O. aristatus contains the diterpenes orthosphol and orthosiphon, as well as saponins, rosmarinic acid and lipophilic flavonoids. 

Excerpts from Mudbrick cottage, Herbfarm

Cats Whiskers

An old proverb claims, a cat has nine lives. For three he plays. For three he strays, for the last three he stays. 

Believe it or not;
Cats do not have nine lives, it is nothing but a popular myth, a legend.

©Photos/ Text Ts  my garden, Lavender & Vanilla


  1. This is a plant I've always wanted to grow, but never have. Your post has reminded me why it's been on my wish list for so long. I really must find some. I just adore the light mauve colour.

  2. Bernie, let me know if you do not find some, I will send you some root divisions. Sharing! I love mine, it is so easy to grow and so rewarding. I think it would also look nice with some white flowers as a contrast. I love it with the yellow Tecoma. Have you got that one?

    1. Thank you kindly, T. I really appreciate your offer. If I can't find anything at the nursery soon, I'll certainly take you up of your offer of some root divisions. I will be visiting the nursery very soon to see what's on offer. I agree that pairing the lovely mauve with a stark white would look fantastic. I have just the spot for some Cat's Whiskers under my Tabernaemontana with its brilliant white flowers.

    2. Yes, Tabernaemontana is beautiful and a little shade is great for the cats... yes please let me know.

  3. I never knew that it was a native. I got very interested and seriously thought I must get some until I read that it doesn't like drying out. I'm afraid my garden dries out quickly in winter even with mulch and regular watering.

  4. Diane; It is pruned back late autumn when it has finished its flowering time. It can be dry, once it is established it will survive.Mine survive on rain only. some years they might be a bit sparser, this year they were magnificent, still flowering . It is raining, I guess at your place too.Come for a drive and I give you root cuttings.

  5. Hi I'm new on this blog. I really want to have this cats whiskers, I'm sure they will look good on my garden. I want to ask if you know where I can buy this plant. I live here in Toronto. I looked around but no luck. Thanks.