Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cool plants: Melianthus 'Purple Haze'

As I've mentioned many times on this blog I do have a tendency to fixate on certain plants and certain plant types. One thing I look for more and more is any compact form of plants I already love.  This time the object of my affection is Melianthus 'Purple Haze'.  Normally Melianthus major is a whopping 6' + shrub, which really doesn't fit that many urban gardens, but this compact cultivar grows to 2'-3' max.  M. 'Purple Haze' has the nice ric rac edged foliage of the species with the added benefit of being uniquely blushed in lavender-purple, so its a great foliage plant.  The African honey bush also gets flower spikes in the spring which are attractive to pollinators, though I haven't had M. 'Purple Haze' flower in my garden yet. This year will be the first spring in which it is established in the garden so we'll see what happens.

Roger Raiche once told me the story of how he discovered this cultivar, He was at a nursery in the Bay Area, cruising through the 1 gallons when he spotted a purplish runt.  He grabbed it immediately knowing that he had something special. Since then it's been passed around but finally Monrovia picked it up with Dan Hinkley's recommendation.

Melianthus 'Purple Haze' 

Melianthus with concrete hedgehog-urchins