How to Grow Martynia Plants

Guide to Growing Cat's claw, Unicorn Plant, and Tiger Claw Plant

Martynia plants grows to a height of 60 cm to 1.8 m (2 to 6 feet). Plants are half hardy annuals.

They have large leaves, and carry pretty flowers that resemble orchids.

Their spiky fruits can be used in dried flowering arrangements.

Common names for Martynia include Unicorn plant.

Martynia annua
Martynia annua plant by Lalithamba; creative commons.

Devil's claw
Martynia annua - Devil's claw by Jayesh912.

Martynia Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Unicorn Plant, Tiger Claw Plant, Devils claw, Cat's claw.
Family: Martyniaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual.
Height: 24 to 60 inches (60 to 150 cm).
Native: Americas.
Growing Region: Zones 7 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: White, pink, yellow, purple; speckled with other colours. Orchid-like. Tubular. Smelly.
Foliage: Heart-shaped/Cordate.

Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Following the last frost. Spacing 12 inches (30 cm).
Sow Inside: Soak seeds overnight. Germination time: three to four weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Rich soil. Can survive in dry soils.

How to Grow Unicorn Plant and other Martynia Plants in the Garden

Unless you live in an area that has long summers, it is best to start growing unicorn plants indoors first.

If growing the plant outdoors, then sow unicorn plant seeds at a depth of 6 mm (1/4 inch) following the last frost of spring.

They can grow in either a sunny or partially shaded area of the garden, but require good drainage. Ideally grow unicorn plants in rich soils.

When growing Martynia plants indoors first, then start about 7 or 8 weeks in advance, they typically take about three weeks to germinate at 21 to 24 degrees centigrade (70 to 75°F).

They should be transplanted into the garden in spring, about a week after the last possible chance of frost. Use a spacing of 30 cm (1 foot).

Caring for Unicorn Plants

Unicorn plants and other Martynia members look after themselves. They are able to tolerate dry conditions, so regular watering is not required.

Common Questions

How many members does the Martynia plant genus have?

The Martynia genus contains only two species. The most known species is called Devil's claw.

Do members of Martynia make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Martynia annua is grown for its unique, claw-shaped seed pods and large, trumpet-shaped flowers. It can be an interesting addition to a garden, but be aware that it needs to be managed carefully as it has an aggressive nature.

Which Martynia species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Martynia annua (Devil's Claw) due to its intriguing seed pods and attractive flowers.

Are members of the Martynia plant genus fragrant?

Martynia annua does not have a significant fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Martynia?

Martynia annua prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. It is drought-tolerant and does well in dry, sandy soils.

Is Martynia invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Martynia annua is not currently considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Martynia plants from my garden?

Removing Martynia annua involves pulling or digging up the plants, ensuring that all the roots are removed. It is important to also remove the seed pods to prevent reseeding.


Martynia, commonly known as devil's claw, is a small genus of plants in the sesame family. These annuals are recognized for their unusual claw-shaped seed pods and trumpet-shaped flowers.

To grow Martynia, plant them in a sunny location with well-drained soil in late spring or early summer. They can tolerate poor soil and drought conditions, making them a relatively low-maintenance addition to your garden.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Martynia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Parnassia grass, Globularia plant, and Humulus plants.