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
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.