Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Phlomis Tuberosa

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Phlomis tuberosa (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phlomis tuberosa (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to light shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1.5m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a

Family:  Lamiaceae

Phlomis tuberosa is a deciduous herbaceous perennial with a clump forming habit. Its mid green leaves are cordate with serrate margins, up to 20cm long and 13cm broad. Its pink/ lilac flowers are up to 3cm long, hooded and appear in whorls in the upper leaf axils in clusters of up to 20. Its fruit is a four to three sided nutlet, topped with hair and is sometimes glabrous. Its roots are tuberous.

Phlomis tuberosa, commonly known as Jerusalem Sage, is native to east Europe. In its native habitat it grows in dry, rocky ground among herbaceous vegetation.

Phlomis tuberosa Flower (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phlomis tuberosa Flower (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Phlomis is from the Greek word for mullein (Verbascum), due to the similarity of the leaves. Tuberosa is derived from the Latin tuber meaning ‘plant with tuberous root’.

The landscape architect may find Phlomis tuberosa useful as a part of a herbaceous planting scheme, particularly in dryer conditions. Once established this plant is drought tolerant. This perennial is unattractive to rabbits.

Ecologically, Phlomis tuberosa flowers are attractive to nectar loving and pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given the variety Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 2012.

Phlomis tuberosa Leaf (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phlomis tuberosa Leaf (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phlomis tuberosa prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Phlomis tuberosa requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided in spring.

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