Prostanthera 'Poorinda Ballerina'

Family: Lamiaceae

Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ is a hybrid mint bush. The parents are stated to be P. lasianthos and P. phylicifolia.

It grows to 2 metres tall by 1-2 metres wide.

Prostanthera have simple, opposite and usually odorous leaves. In this cultivar, the leaves are to 10 mm long by about 3 mm wide, generally linear to narrow-elliptic; deep green above and paler beneath. Unlike most mint bushes this variety does not have aromatic foliage.

Flowers have a shape described as labiate (applied to all Lamiaceae flowers) with petals varying in their size, purple to lilac, produced in leaf axils. One of the identification features for Prostanthera is that the 5 calyx parts (sepals; basal whorl of the flower) are fused into 2 lips. In this cultivar, flowers are 2 cm long with a prominent lobe, white with orange markings and purple dots in the throat. Between October and January the foliage disappears beneath a bonanza of blooms. Plants are literally covered by flowers.

In the garden

Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ is reported to be a very hardy plant and will grow much better than a lot of other prostantheras. It does well on a well-draining soil but can tolerate a range of soils types.

Grow in a semi-shade location. Plants can be pruned back to a half or third their length to encourage bushier plants that flower much better.

This cultivar could be grown as an informal hedge bordering a path, as a feature plant perhaps in a native cottage garden or as a container plant grown on balconies and patios.

Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ has proved to be drought and frost tolerant.

A Prostanthera in full bloom is a magnificent sight and there are so many colours to choose from for your garden. These plants are found in all states in varied soil conditions and climate and thus while it may be a challenge to grow some species many are easy in a garden situation.

A few basic growing tips are:
• Good drainage is essential. Raised beds ensure this
• Water new plants until established, weekly or as required.
• Do not over water, as this can induce root rot and fungal infestation.
• They prefer moist root runs.
• Plant drooping is an indicator of dryness

Positioning of prostantheras as border plants or near pathways is recommended as the mint odour is released when brushed against.


Must be propagated from cuttings to retain true-to-type form of the cultivar.

Other information

Prostanthera is a diverse group of about 100 species, endemic to Australia, occurring in all states. There are still many unresolved taxa and species complexes, with new forms regularly being found. Natural hybrids occur between several species and most species appear to be capable of hybridizing when in cultivation. NSW currently has about 52 species, some of which are species-complex and others which are threatened with extinction.

Some 80% of mints contain aromatic oils within their leaves with oil of cineole being a major component. Prostanthera sieberi, P. incisa and P. staurophylla are quite pleasantly overpowering in their exudates when crushed. Oil from the leaves of some species is distilled for use in cosmetics and as soap additives.

Likely regenerates from seed after fire, possibly after 12 months.

Prostanthera – from the Greek prosthike (προσθήκη) which translates to “addendum” (root of prosthetic), and anthir (ανθήρ) meaning anther – referring to the anthers which have an appendage of tissue.

‘Poorinda Ballerina’ – named for Leo Hodge’s (1904-1994) property, Poorinda, in Victoria where the cultivar arose. Hodge was a famous Australian plant breeder, experimenting with a lot of hybridisation.

Gardening with Angus – Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/prostanthera-poorinda-ballerina-native-mint-bush/

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/prostanthera-poorinda-ballerina

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke