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Products > Ocimum labiatum
 
Ocimum labiatum - Shell Bush
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: Swaziland (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Mauve
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [Orthosiphon labiatus]
Height: 3-5 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Ocimum labiatum (Shell Bush) - This evergreen shrub in the sage family typically reaches a height of 3 to 5 feet tall by an equal width but is known to grow larger in its native habitat. Its leaves that are almost heart-shaped and have a soft hairy texture and scalloped edges - they have a minty perfume when handled. Six inch, delicate spires of flowers bloom at the tips of the branches and completely cover the bush in a mist of pinkish-mauve over a long period from early summer on into fall. Plant in full coastal sun to light shade in a well drained soil and water regularly to infrequently though from the more summer rainfall areas of South Africa, this plant can handle summer dry conditions in part day sun in coastal California gardens once it is established. It can also tolerate a moderate degree of frost and seems hardy down to at least 25F. Trim back plants in winter to neaten up and shape. Shell Bush grows naturally on rocky hillsides in KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland north into the Northern Provinces of South Africa and beyond into Zimbabwe. This plant was previously known as Orthosiphon labiatus with the name for the genus coming from the Greek words 'ortho' meaning erect and 'siphon' meaning the "flower tube" in reference to the erect flower tube but more recently it has been put in Ocimum, the genus that includes culinary basil. The origin of this name is from a Greek name used by Theophrastus for an aromatic herb. The specific epithet is from Latin and means "lipped", which is a reference to the flared petals. Other common names include Pink Sage and Pink Cat's Whiskers. We first started growing this attractive plant as Orthosiphon labiatus in 1995 from seed received under this namefrom the National Botanic Garden Kirstenbosch.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Ocimum labiatum.