Melianthus major (Honey Bush or Peanut Butter Bush)

I planted a few seeds of Melianthus major yesterday.  I received them from a large nursery from across the country, and while I could go on and on about how frustrating it was to order (and not get) seeds from them, that is not what this post is about.  This post is about how amazing this plant is.  Not only does it have those luscious large leaves that we all love, but it grows well in the Pacific Northwest and is mostly hardy in my garden.  This last winter we saw temperatures down to almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit for a day, and I have yet to see whether or not my existing plant survived.

In case it didn’t, I planted a few more seeds just yesterday.  Today I was repotting some of the Senna alata in the same seed tray, and I casually glanced over at the Melianthus pots.  Very surprisingly, two had already sprouted and were up above the soil, uncurling their leaves towards my grow lights!  Yes, you read that right.  Less than 24 hours after being planted, these little babies were sprouting!  I guess that goes to show just how quickly some plants will germinate, give the right conditions.  I thought the cannas were fast, sprouting at 36 and 48 hours.  That is still fast, I guess, but they no longer hold the title of “Most Insanely Fast Germinator”.

I am willing to bet that some of you are interested in how I was able to get them to sprout so quickly.  I filled the seed pots with a 50/50 of germination mix and cactus soil.  I made sure it was moist, but not wet, and then I pressed each seed down into the soil just until the top of the seed was level with the soil.  Then i sprinkled a very thin layer of vermiculite over the seeds, so that they would stay moist but would still get light.  I put them in my seed dome, and the rest is history.  The seed room is very warm, probably 75 degrees.  The dome itself is on a baker’s rack near the top, with fluorescent lights above it and right below it, so it gets a little extra heat and the lights are very close.  The lights go off at night, and the room gets down to about 70.  The dome gets no bottom heat at night, either.  I hope this information helps anyone else wanting to grow Melianthus major!

As a side note, I also wanted to share how busy I have been over the last few days!  Other seeds I started this week are as follows;

  • Canna musifolia – Banana Canna (who wouldn’t want more of these huge leaves?)
  • Ginkgo biloba – Maiden Hair Tree (after cold stratifying for several weeks)
  • Meryta sinclairii – Pukanui Tree (cold stratified as well)
  • Passiflora alata – Winged-Stem Passionflower (another cold stratified seed selection)
  • Hibiscus cannabinus – Brown Indian Hemp (should be a very fast grower)
  • Ensete ventricosum – Ethiopian Banana (a monster of a plant, if it germinates)
  • Ensete glaucum – Snow Banana (cold hardy version of above, a bit smaller, if it germinates)
  • Papaver somniferum – Giant Poppy (giant is good, right?)

The Ensete did not come from Ebay.  They came from a nursery, so I am crossing my fingers and hoping that they are fresh seeds.  I really don’t want to have to wait 6 months to a year for some new bananas.  I think I am about done starting seeds this week.  But I’m sure next week I’ll be thinking about starting some more.  As a matter of fact, in two weeks the Cordyline kaspar seeds should be ready to bring out of the refrigerator…

2 thoughts on “Melianthus major (Honey Bush or Peanut Butter Bush)

  1. Welcome to Blogdom! I saw your comment on danger garden, and came to check you out. I love big leaves too! Have you grown poppies from seed before? I’ve tried them in pots in the past, and discovered that, at least for me, they don’t transplant well, and they tend to languish in pots and then fade out of existence. I’ve had great luck starting them right outside in the beds where I want them to grow, under plastic cloches.


    1. I have very limited experience germinating poppies, but I figured that I might as well see if pot size makes a difference. So far the larger the pot, the better the growth. We’ll see what happens as they get bigger. Maybe the ones in the 30 inch pot won’t mind! If they do, I suppose I can always wait and sow the rest of the 1000 seeds outside!


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