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cat's whiskers | orthosiphon aristatus

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Posted by EDITOR 28 Apr 2010 - 11:59:00 AM

Whatever ‘natives' are meant to look like, Cat's Whiskers doesn't really fit the preconception. Maybe because it's not exclusive to us: found from China down through SE Asia (and around many Balinese temples), PNG into QLD and pockets of NSW rainforest. Maybe because we don't think so much about all our rainforest plants when we think ‘native'.
So also contrary to the assumption with natives it's not adapted for drought-tolerance. But it is a cinch to propagate from cuttings, grows quickly and even bounces back from frosts in far from tropical climates. Tough knocking back and pruning especially when grown in shadier positions actually keeps it from getting leggy and looking a bit like a roadside weed.
With flowers from white to mauve, its exotic hard-to-pigeonhole qualities will sit it comfortably in tropical, oriental or romantic cottage garden styles in the middle or back of a border. Related to and reminiscent of salvias, it could also add the right touch for a Mediterranean feel.

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