Cat whiskers plant has a unique appearance among the perennial herbaceous plants that belong to the Lamiaceae family. Widely known as a medicinal herb, parts of this plant can be used to help prevent certain health problems, as well as be a part of an existing medical regimen.
Discover more about this wonderful Orthosiphon genus plant and how planting it in your garden can benefit not just the birds and aesthetics of your home, but your overall health as well, as you continue reading to learn more!
JUMP TO TOPIC
- Cat Whiskers Plant Care
- Water Requirements
- Light Requirements
- Soil Requirements
- Temperature Requirements
- Humidity Requirements
- Fertilizing Requirements
Cat Whiskers Plant Care
In order to fully utilize all the health benefits that this incredible plant can offer, it is important to understand how to take care of it, so it can thrive and provide the healthy leaves that you need.
Just like with any other plant, it is crucial to check frequently to see if the plant requires watering, rather than just doing it when the schedule says to. In order for this plant to thrive, the soil must be moist but not soggy.
This can be ensured by using a quick method. If the top one inch to two inches of the soil feels somewhat dry to the touch, it means it can be watered thoroughly.
However, you must not that deep watering is necessary in order to be able to make sure that the water can penetrate the roots.
However, it is imperative that the roots do not sit on soggy soil, of course, if the plant is still in the growing season, it can be irrigated two to three times a week, as it is also not advisable to let the soil get entirely dry before the next watering session, because this would put it under some stress.
On the other hand, you must note that during hot and dry weather, a two-to-three-inch-deep layer of mulch on the surface of the soil can help to retain moisture. By doing this, the frequency of watering requirement is decreased.
This plant loves the sun and enjoys direct sunlight. The plant needs this in order to grow its famous whiskers. However, if you live in an area that is too hot, it is best to place it in a shady location as it will also grow even in filtered light.
The number of flowers produced by this plant will probably diminish if it is placed in an area that does not receive enough sunshine because the amount of light the plant receives has a significant impact.
Therefore, be sure to place the pot in a location or a garden area that receives direct sunlight. Although the plant can also be in the shade, ensure it gets some direct sunlight during the day. For those who do not live in a sunny area, just make sure to have this plant placed by a window for it to receive the greatest amount of light possible.
Given that the plant is native to a tropical region, it is used to having an environment with rich soil and an adequate water supply. In an ideal situation, the soil should be 50 percent organic matter and 50 percent soil.
Preparing the soil can be done by spreading a three-inch layer of organic compost and working it six inches to eight inches deep into the soil. This will be the key insurance that the mix has equal amounts of compost and soil. In addition, the soil should also be moist yet well-draining.
What you must note is that once the plant is set in the right soil, and receives the right nutritional needs, it spreads quickly. Even though they are not categorically invasive, they can grow rather fast.
Given that they are a low-maintenance plants, once established and fully grown, the stem sections that rest on the ground may develop roots and begin to spread, all this is thanks to the right soil.
However, the best temperature range for this plant is between 20 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that your cat whisker plant will be happy and thriving.
However, as you would notice, this plant does best in full sun, it does not necessarily imply that it can be left out in the open and still survive extreme heat, such as 134 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very intense heat and will lead the plant to gradually begin to wilt and die in this case.
However, you should know that even though this plant is fairly resilient and thrives in mild climates, if the soil has dried up, the plant may not recover even when watering is resumed. Because at this point, it has been stressed, and it’s nearly impossible to bring it back up again.
On the other hand, you should know that when it comes to the cold, it doesn’t have a good tolerance for the cold as well. Which is why in harsh winters, it may become semi-deciduous, with fewer yellowing leaves.
The plant could die from frost if it is not adequately protected. It is also said to only reach a height of 24 all the way to 35 inches tall in the Northern Hemisphere, so this may serve as a reference for regions with harsh winters.
This plant does not have a specific requirement when it comes to humidity. It can generally do okay on the average relative humidity of 30 percent to 50 percent. Thus, this plant can be grown indoors as well. It doesn’t require any special needs or props to let it stand up by building moisture, it does well in a medium range of humidity.
Usually, the cat’s whiskers plant does not need any additional fertilizer if it is grown in garden beds or borders.
However, in order to encourage growth and flowering, the plant should be fed once or twice throughout the spring or summer and at least once a month after that. Which is basically twice or maximum three times in a year.
Frequent fertilization is also advisable if the plant is being grown in a pot. To make sure that adequate fertilizer will be given, it is best to adhere to the instructions on the fertilizer container.
Additionally, fertilizing can be done by spreading one pound of 12-6-6 NPK, which is short for nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium fertilizer, over every 100 square feet of plant bed.
During the growing season, feed the plant once a month with this 1-1-1 NPK balanced flower fertilizer. Apply the liquid fertilizer as directed on the label, of course, during a watering session.
Overall, by doing so, you will see how this plant stands out from the crowd, and this fortunately due to its brilliant white blooms through the fertilizers. The snowy blooms are stunningly highlighted by the color contrast with the glossy, dark-green foliage that is above the white cat whiskers petals.
As soon as this plant starts to bloom, it is a good idea to trim the deadheads. Look for any damaged leaves or stems, and remove any spent or old flower stems because of trimming the flowers after they fade encourages more flowering. You may want to use a pair of secateurs or pruning shear, and gently remove any leaves that are brown, dried, or yellowish.
To promote new growth, trim them back to just above the ground. This tropical perennial flowers best when the spent blooms are removed, and minimal trimming is usually needed. However, do remember that your tools must be sterilized because it would contaminate pests from other plants if it is not cleaned well.
Cat whiskers plants are relatively simple to grow. There are two options for propagating them: through seeds and stem cuttings. These are the best ways that you will see the white blooms’ flower up and grow.
– Seed Propagation
The ideal way is propagating through seeds. It can be done by collecting flower seeds and planting them, or using cuttings to grow fresh ones throughout any of the warmer months.
Larger plants will start to form roots as soon as their stems touch the ground. These can be taken out of the parent plant and replanted in pots to create an entirely new plant. Overall, you will start seeing it grow tall as they can frequently grow wider than taller, at just two feet in height, the plant can flaunt even more of its trademark blossoms as it matures.
– Propagation From Stem Cuttings
This plant can also be propagated by using its stem cuttings. First, obtain stem cuttings with some buds that are between six and eight inches long from the plant. Next, plant them in the shade with 16 to 24 inches between each plant which is somewhat four to six cuttings may be used for each space.
Even though they can be planted at any time, they do best when planted at the beginning of the rainy season. When planting, it is recommended that the cuttings be positioned vertically, and even if one of the buds appears to be sticking up above the ground, that is perfectly fine.
In addition, softwood cuttings are used for propagation, or seed pods can be gathered, dried, and stored in a paper bag for later planting. If left to self-seed and develop as an annual, the plant should regrow in regions where it fully dies off.
Compared to other plants that commonly have problems with infestations of bugs and pests, this plant has no severe issues with them. However, weed development poses a possibility.
Nevertheless, this can easily be solved by merely establishing a routine for weed removal. This is important as keeping the plant weed-free will aid in preventing it from being damaged, and also don’t over water it, or underwater it, so that it doesn’t lead to fatal consequences.
– What Does a Cat Whiskers Plant Look Like?
Its flowers are similar to that of an orchid, with a slender one-inch long tube-shaped corolla. The flowers come in white or lavender, with bases that are covered in long filaments, which greatly resemble the whiskers of a cat, thus the name.
It has two inches to four inches long, slightly glossy, narrowly oval, and strongly veined dark green leaves, which are held in pairs with coarsely toothed borders and pointy ends.
– What Are the Uses of the Cat Whiskers Plant?
It can be used as medicine, a herbal tea, or as a decorative plant. However, the most widely known use of this plant is as a medicine. Given the high potassium content, well-known diuretic, and anti-inflammatory qualities of this plant, it is a preferred natural treatment in South Asia and several regions of Europe.
In addition, it is believed that the leaves and stems can be used to make a herbal tea that, when consumed, can help with many health problems, such as diabetes, jaundice, gout, kidney stones, nephritis, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.
– Are Flowers from the Cat Whiskers Plant Edible?
The flowers are edible, just like the leaves and stems. However, precautionary measures should be observed when consuming, as large quantities can result in experiencing toxic side effects.
Any part of this plant that is above the soil is not harmful, but those below the soil are. Hence, it is considered a dangerous plant for animals. Even the herbal tea made from this plant, java tea, when consumed at a particularly high dose, may have some harmful adverse effects, according to research.
A plant that resembles the whiskers of a cat does not just have aesthetically pleasing characteristics, but more importantly, it has cat whiskers plant benefits that are mostly medicinal.
Let us summarize and list down the keynotes of what we have learned from this article.
- Cat whiskers plant size might be small, but others categorize it as an invasive plant. It can grow up to a height of two feet and a width of four feet. However, if given the proper care and nutrition, it can reach a height of up to 4 feet.
- Taking care of this plant is such a breeze, as long as the Cat whiskers plant sun or shade light requirements are taken into consideration, along with other factors, such as water, humidity, fertilizing, and pruning.
- General pruning or just getting rid of the spent flowers will do for this plant; no other special pruning is needed.
- It is also fairly easy to propagate this plant. Simply gather the seeds from the flowers and plant them as usual, or use cuttings to grow them.
- Cat whiskers plants are not prone to pests or bug infestations, but weeds can pose a problem for them, which can easily be solved by regular weeding.
For a herb that has so many health benefits and does not require special care, this plant is definitely a must-have for any garden or home.
Its unique appearance, which resembles the whiskers of a cat, can also make any area look interesting, not to mention you will have a handy medicinal herb within reach.