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Melianthus major - as architectural as they get

  • Melianthus major - as architectural as they get
  • Melianthus major - as architectural as they get

If I had to list plants based on their architectural merit, Melianthus major would be up there with a Grade 1*. No other plant, in my view, has such fine deep cut, pinnate leaves. A gorgeous, glaucous bluey green in spring, they look like they have been freshly cut with pinking shears.

These are followed by long-stemmed crimson-maroon flowers, usually borne in mid to late summer, but this year flowering now after the very mild winter.

Some say the Melianthus is not a reliably hardy perennial but, with a little care, it can live long and perform well year after year. The trick is to plant it some 10cm deeper than in the pot, mixing in some grit and bark chippings if necessary to help drainage. Planted that deep, it will be at less risk from frost. A dry mulch around the base of the plant can also help protect from excessive winter wet. Situate the plant in full sun and sheltered enough from cold drying winds.

Melianthus major is really an evergreen shrub, but for best leaves and to stop it getting leggy cut the stems back to about 10cm in early spring. It will grow up to 1.5m in a single summer.

Lastly, a little something to delight anyone you show round the garden, try rubbing the leaves between your fingers. You'll get an unmistakeable whiff of peanut butter. Not peanuts, but Sun Pat. Interesting!

Comments (3)

  1. Grower

    Geoff Hodge

    One of my favourite plants!

  2. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Sounds like an interesting and unusual plant, and I like the idea of a peanut butter scented plant! Unfortunately it gets way too big for my tiny garden, I would have to chuck out a serious amount of plants to make room for this monster. Perhaps I could persuade my neighbour to plant it, they don’t have any plants or trees in their garden, just lots of junk and rubbish and a few weeds in one corner….

  3. Grower

    Kathy Peck

    Well fancy that I've always thought this plant wasn't hardy and that's put me off growing it, I'll have to give it a try if I can find a sheltered spot, interesting info, smells of peanut butter even better :-)


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