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Usually available: August to April
Life cycle: Perennial
Position: Sun / part shade
Soil preference: Well drained
This is how we pack and send your Herb Plants to all states except TAS & WA
You will receive
- 1 Cats Whiskers Herb Plant in a 50 X 75mm tube - General growing instructions
All of our Herb Plants are grown organically with certified organic potting mixes and fertilizers
Botanical Name: 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 dark green leaves are 5-10cm long, slightly glossy, narrowly ovate and deeply veined. They are held in pairs, end in points at each end and have coarsely toothed margins. The stems have a purple tone which seems to deepen closer to the flower whorls.
The cats whisker plant flowers range from white through to light mauve or pink with the slender tube shaped corolla being 2.5 cm. It is almost 3 times the size of the bell shaped calyces. 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. Some gardeners have commented that the white flower is quite striking under moonlight. This uncommon plant is highly recommended and is very attractive planted in groups.
Cat’s Whiskers has many scientific synonyms and alternative common names, especially in the South East Asian region. Commonly used names around the world include Java Tea, Kidney Tea, Kumis Kucing, Kumis Kutjing and Kitty Whiskers. You may see the same plant referred to as Orthosiphon spiralis, Orthosiphon stamineus or Ocimum aristatum. 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. It is cultivated for Java Tea on the islands of Sumatra and Java. It grows naturally in forest edges, but is commonly seen along roadsides and wastelands.
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. Many people find this plant does well in a damp garden corner with water loving plants.
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. Some shelter from the extremes of winter is also recommended in cooler regions.
This plant is quite hardy and also grows well in temperate conditions, but letting the ground dry out may result in the plant dying even when watering resumes. It may be semi-deciduous in cold winters with the leaves turning yellow and becoming sparse. Frost may kill the plant unless it is well protected. It is also reported to only grow 60cm to 90cm high in the northern hemisphere, so this may be a guide for cold winter areas.
Many home gardeners report that cutting 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 later. In areas where the plant dies down completely it should grow back if allowed to self seed and grow as an annual.
Many people will have heard of Java Tea which is how O. aristatus is usually marketed to the public. It is very popular is SE Asia and is called Kidney Tea in Europe and India. Java Tea is used to treat mild kidney symptoms in conjunction with drinking lots of fluids to flush out the bladder. To make your own tea simply place 2-3 grams of finely chopped leaves into a cup and pour over 150 mls of boiling water. Let is steep for 10-15 minutes and then strain. Java Tea or Cat’s Whiskers is often used in conjunction with other herbs recommended for kidney health.
This plant has a long history of medicinal use and is considered to be anti-hypertensive, diuretic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. It has been used for urinary tract infections, nephritis, kidney stones, gout, rheumatism, jaundice and diabetes. Most of its recommended uses relate to kidney and bladder function however studies regarding the effectiveness are not yet conclusive.
O. aristatus contains the diterpenes orthosphol and orthosiphon, as well as saponins, rosmarinic acid and lipophilic flavonoids. Only the above ground parts of the plant are used as other parts as potentially toxic. Leaves should be harvested when the plant is in bloom. Please use herbs with diuretic action in consultation with your doctor if you are on prescription medication. For example, lithium may not be excreted properly when using diuretics and a higher concentration may remain in the body affecting the dosage level.
All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Please seek professional advice before commencing any treatment.