Friday, April 22, 2011

Plant profile: Phlomis

P. fruticosa
With about 100 species in the genus, these often fuzzy-leaved perennial plants fill a great niche in the dry gardener's palette. They behave nicely, require little to no water, and have a softness that most xeric plants don't bring to the table. Think of them as "lamb's ears plus"!

Latin name: Phlomis ("FLO-miss")

Common name: Jerusalem Sage, or, if you're Matt, Flomax.
Originally from: the Mediterranean, across central Asia to China
Blooms: Various colors include yellow, pink, purple and white, depending on the species.
Light: Full sun, part sun.
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water!
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 4' tall x 6' wide
USDA Zone:  7-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have three yellow ones (P. fruticosa) in the left bed and middle back bed, and a purple one (P. purpurea) directly in front of the bench.

P. fruticosa
Our first Phlomis was planted in Decmber 2008. I got it from a nursery who encouraged me to buy it despite my reservations that it was just some sort of weedly what-have-you. Actually my exact words were "what the hell is this? Why did I buy it? Argh!" That Phlomis fruticosa has gone on to be a little winner, so there you go.

Inspired by that, in December 2010 I got a Phlomis purpurea which is quite busy growing. This one, as the name hints, has purple flowers.

P. purpurea
Happy in full sun sites or on dry woodland edges, this plant is fairly versatile. It also appears to be goat resistant judging by the many Phlomis we saw growing wild on Crete where goats scour the landscape eating anything that's not made of steel, and sometimes a few things that are. And saying something is goat resistant is quite a thing - goats will eat anything! I've heard they're deer-proof too, so if you have deer take note.

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