Melianthus major

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Description

Melianthus major, the honey bush from the south-western cape of South Africa is a hugely exotic large leaved jungly looking plant.  With large pinnate leaves over 30cm long, comprising of 10-15 jagged edge leaflets coloured the most distinctive blue-grey powdery matt colour.

If like me you love peanut butter then Melianthus will instantly be a favourite by emitting a distinctly peanutty fragrance whenever the leaves are brushed or rubbed.  The only real draw-back with Melianthus is that it’s not completely hardy, requiring a hot sunny position in a milder garden for long term success.  It can be grown as an annual in cold regions; big leaves are readily produced on young plants, or as a deciduous shrub cut back by the winter frosts, usually growing back from the base in spring.

If you are lucky enough to live in a milder spot the Melianthus major will perform splendidly being naturally evergreen often flowering on tall stems up to at least 2m.  The flowers are produced on long racemes, brick red in colour and not beautiful – almost sinister in appearance; they are slightly fragrant smelling of honey.  

So in summary a very architectural foliage/flowering plant that’s always impressive, hardy in mild locations but worth a try elsewhere.  Like most South African plants, enjoys a warm sunny position with free draining soil.

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