MELIANTHUS (Melianth'us)

Stella_Blue(ss23us9b So CA)February 15, 2003

MELIANTHUS (Melianth'us)

These slightly hardy to frost-tender perennials and shrubs are native to South Africa. They are mainly grown for the beauty of their foliage. M. major (Honeybush) is a large, evergreen shrub that grows from 6 to 10+ feet high, or up to 4 feet high in cool climates. It has a spread from 6 to 10 feet. The evergreen or deciduous, glaucous blue leaves grow up to 18 inches long and are divided into 7 to 13, toothed, oval leaflets. The small, tubular, brownish-red flowers are produced in foot-long, terminal spikes, in the summer.

We have nice stand of this M. major (Honeybush)the birds love the flowers. They are blooming now.

In the Dirt,

Stella Blue

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks interesting, but a little big for my garden.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2003 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Hello Stella, I have two M. villosus plants (kruidjie-roer-my-nie). This winter is a true test of their hardiness, as they are in pots on my deck where temps in the teens were recorded during the last week of October. Fortunately it has not been that cold again, although the past three weeks persistently had morning temps of 25 degrees F. I cut the stems down to the ground, and apparently they will resprout in the spring and grow fast, as is their habit.
M. villosus does not get as tall as M. major but they are striking plants, and very good subjects for container growing. Some folks on the Northwestern Gardening forum has posted pics of fabulous specimens of M. major growing there. I find the smell of the M. villosus intriguing, it is somewhere between castor oil and peanut butter. I have noticed that the darn deer leaves them alone. What other S.African plants do you grow? Delina

    Bookmark   February 15, 2003 at 5:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've got both M. major and M. comosus blooming now. Anybody need seedlings/seeds of M. comosus? Thing is VERY prolific!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 3:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have Melianthus major here for ten years growing under very difficult conditions. It is between two mature douglas firs which suck up all the nutrients and what ever moisture the winter brings, as they get no summer water. They do not get any taller than about 8 feet but they do bloom every year. I enjoy the unusual type foliage as a backround to my ceanothus ground cover. Al

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Salvia_guy(z8 OR)

My M. cosmosus came through a cold snap we had back on 10/31/02. It didn't even seem to effect the plant.
The temps overnight went down to 18F, 20F and 21F on 10/31, 11/1. 11/2.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2003 at 12:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am in Walnut Creek, CA, zone 14, Sunset 7. I have my plant under the canopy of a large Valley Oak. I have been told that there are some unattended plants in our area that are in full sun and doing quite well, blooming and thriving. Do most of you think of this as a partial shade plant?

How easy is it to propagate? The books say very easy but we have not had any branches root. We have several branches bent to the ground to get them to root and then we will clip them.

I would love to have some more suggestions for propagating this beautiful plant.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2003 at 4:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

It grows easily from seed. Also, when I transplanted mine last year, I noticed that they have thick fibrous roots and were sending up sideshoots ... my guess would be that it would be easy to start a "baby" by spading off a side growth section and repotting. Delina

    Bookmark   February 19, 2003 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bahia(SF Bay Area)

Propagation of M. major is easiest from root divisions. Look for underground shoots with both already developed roots and a growth tip. Seems to be fairly easy to get started once the weather has warmed up abit, try in April or May.

The plants seem very variable in their preferences; I think it looks its best with dappled shade, but have also seen it doing well in full hot sun and little summer water. It definitely grows more vigorously with regular summer irrigation.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2003 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Stella_Blue(ss23us9b So CA)

Hi Modjadje,

Below is a list of other S. African plants that I grow. I could have more and not even know. I have a more complete list of our over 400 plants. You can get to it from my members page if you care to identify any for me I would be grateful. Now that my garden is mostly planted I mostly try to keep up with all the volunteers. But now I have time to work on my plant database and photos and spend some time in the forums. I have a piture of our Melianthus.major in my journal.

Carpobrotus chilensis - Bulbinella floribunda - Strelitzia reginae - Clivia miniata - Brugmansia grand marnier - Agapanthus africanus - Trichodiadema densum - Aloe plicatilis - Ferraria crispa - Crassula coccinea - Aloe brevifolia - Dymondia margueritae - Veltheimia bracteata - Watsonia beatricis - Cotyledon macrantha - Ceropegia woodii

Thank you,
Stella Blue

    Bookmark   February 25, 2003 at 1:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
davidrt28 (zone 7)

Has anybody grown both M. comosus and villosus? M. comosus is definitely zn. 7 in terms of root hardiness. After all Rachel lists it as such and I have had them survive pretty cold winters here in the DC suburbs. However the top does die down below about 20F in my experience. My problem is it appears to bloom on old wood, and the flower buds were forming in December(!), so it will have no chance of blooming here.

Now I am trying Melianthus villosus, which I believe comes from somewhat cooler/more montane areas of SA. The seeds took longer to germinate, which I have found is often corrolated with a plant coming from a cooler provenance. says it blooms in summer, but they say the same about M. comosus! Based on my strain of M. comosus, I'd say it was trying to bloom in Jan or Feb, not summer. This would make sense since it comes from the winter rainfall side of SA.

So when does M. villosus bloom for those of you growing it in Cali, the PNW or South Africa! Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2003 at 1:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Anyone know a source for M. major here in Seattle area?


    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Matt, do a thorough search of our local retailers in the spring. I have seen it available in a couple places - usually in small pots.

Here is a pic of what is by far the largest Melianthus major I have ever seen, in Yachats, Oregon. I have posted it before.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2003 at 10:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bigdogs(San Pedro, CA)

Can someone spare some M. major seeds? I could trade some seed from a lovely sort of apricot colored Gaillardia...

Let me know please!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 11:25PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
South-African bulbs - Not all grow in standard potting soil
Except for Watsonia, Homeria, Moraea and some robust...
Amaryllis paradisicola
Perhaps I have an intrusive question but I try carefully. I...
Gardening in ZA!
Hi all! I just started a garden and am wondering where...
cryptostephanus vasonii or haemanthoids
Looking for cryptostephanus vasonii or haemanthoids...
Has anyone grown a Marula tree (Schlerocarya birrea)?...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™