Leonotis Nepetifolia, more commonly known as klip dagga, is one of the easiest enthobotanicals to grow. Leonotis Nepetifolia tends to get quite tall, but it is a great choice for beginning gardeners as long as they have the appropriate space. While smaller plants can be grown inside, klip dagga is more of an outdoor plant. Klip dagga is usually grown as an annual but can be kept perennially. This flowering stalk, which can reach 10 feet in height, is normally grown in the ground. But it will grow in large pots as well. We at World Seed Supply have grown full size klip dagga plants in pots that were approximately 11” deep and 11” in diameter. While these leonotis plants did not have any trouble reaching their full potential in pots that size, it is worth noting that the dagga plants had a tendency to fall over simply from getting too tall. Therefore, actions such as using a larger pot, tying the plant to some type of support, or cutting back growth might be suggested for growing klip dagga. Potted plants will also require more regular watering than those in the ground, especially in strong sun.
Leonotis Nepetifolia can grow in a wide variety of soils, even those that are somewhat infertile. But naturally, klip dagga plants will prefer soils that are rich and well-draining. As for many of our outdoor plants, we prefer to use pure compost for growing klip dagga. Compost seems to produce leonotis plants that are much healthier with larger leaves and thicker stems. It is normal to see plants with leaves that are 6 inches
or more in length (not including the stem). Despite being giants, leonotis nepetifolia plants have roots that are comparatively shallow. About eight inches of compost placed on top of ground that has been tilled will give the best results.
You can choose to start your plants directly in the ground, in a container outdoors or in a container indoors. Don’t become too focused on any of these as a requirement. Do what suits you best. Either way, you should still end up with skyscraping plants by the end of the season. Klip dagga seeds are not killed by freezing and will readily germinate from seed scattered by the year’s previous crop, even in the northern U.S. However, our experience has shown that seed started outdoors where the winters are cooler will sometimes be delayed in germination until favorable temperatures begin, usually in late May to June.
Leonotis nepetifolia seeds started indoors will give you a head start on the season, but they will need to be hardened off. By that, it means that the small klip dagga plants will need gradual exposure to the outdoors, during which time they are likely to lose leaves. Even so, it seems that leonotis nepetifola is one species that will benefit from being started indoors ahead of time, at least in the north, as long as the appropriate acclimation steps are taken.
On the other hand, if you are not confident that you will be able to properly acclimate your klip dagga plants or you do not feel like putting in the effort, it makes sense simply to wait until the weather warms a bit so you can start your leonotis seeds outdoors. At that point, you will either start seedlings in a separate container, which will allow you to select the best ones and transplant them in an organized manner into some kind of flower bed, or you will start them in the ground directly. Just be sure to choose a final location in full sun. An ideal transplantation size for leonotis nepetifolia plants is about 4”-5”.
You should sow your leonotis nepetifolia seeds at a depth of about 1/8”. For the most part, klip dagga seeds germinate easily and hold viability well. We have found klip dagga seedlings growing quite readily in different areas, including the soil of certain cacti pots where klip dagga seeds inadvertently landed. However, we have also encountered a few instances where growers had trouble getting klip dagga seeds to germinate. In some instances, the problem has been solved by increasing watering. One tip that should be minded when watering is that the soil must remain evenly moist for enough time that the seeds can absorb the water. This is a general watering tip that applies to growing many types of seeds (but not all). Sometimes, even a heavy dose of water can be counteracted by a strong sun or dry air that dries the soil too quickly. In that case, mulching the soil with some hay or moving a container to a slightly shadier spot might make a difference. Indoors, misting the soil surface deeper or more frequently could help. A steady, even soil moisture with considerable warmth should be your goal. In fact, we’ve had good results with starting leonotis seeds indoors using bottom heat. That coincides with our findings about outdoor germination increasing in the later months, which means a temperature increase could potentially benefit your dagga grow early on.
Once your leonotis plants are growing in their final locations, all you need to worry about is keeping them adequately watered. These tall plants will generally soak up as much as you can water them. We recommend watering leonotis plants deeply every one to three days. Fertilizing is optional, particularly if using compost, and can be done monthly with an organic fertilizer. Leaves and flower petals can be harvested throughout the growing season. Seed pods can be harvested in the fall by cutting the entire flowering stalks from the plant. Lastly, don’t forget to take pictures!
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