Phlomis is a summer-flowering shrub or perennial from the Mediterranean. Also known as Jerusalem sage, the leaves are very similar to the herb, but have no scent and aren’t edible. There are different variations, all with distinctive hooded flowers that appear in whorls around the stems. Most are yellow, but some flower in pink or mauve. They thrive in sunshine and well-drained soil and are perfect for coastal gardens and dry borders. The dried seedheads work well in the winter border, making the perfect winter silhouettes.
How to grow phlomis
Grow phlomis in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Cut back in spring to contain unruly growth, and feed weekly in summer. Leave seedheads to provide ornamental value through winter.
Where to plant phlomis
Grow phlomis in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Being Mediterranean, drought-tolerant plants, phlomis will not tolerate winter wet – this may influence where you plant it.
How to plant phlomis
Dig a hole around the same depth as the pot you bought your phlomis in, and twice as wide. If you garden on heavy soil, add plenty of grit to the planting hole to improve drainage. Sit the potted plant in the hole first to check that it’s at the correct depth and then remove the plant from the pot and plant it in the hole. Backfill with compost and firm gently, then water well.
How to care for phlomis
Feed fortnightly in summer with a general, organic fertilsier, but avoid deadheading spent flowers as the seedheads are part of their attraction. Phlomis can be a little untidy in their shape, so cut plants back in spring to contain them.
How to propagate phlomis
Perennial phlomis can be propagated by division in spring, while cuttings can be taken from shrubby phlomis. You can also save seed of some species, in autumn.
Here, Alan Titchmarsh explains how to save seeds from phlomis and other plants:
Pests and diseases
Phlomis are generally disease-free and not very attractive to pests, other than leafhoppers that will suck sap from the leaves. However, these are unlikely to do the plant harm.
Advice on buying phlomis
- There are lots of different plomis varieties to choose from, make sure you choose the right one for the site you have in mind
- There’s usually a good selection of phlomis in garden centres but you will have more choice online
- Always check plants for signs of pests or disease before planting
Where to buy phlomis
Phlomis varieties to try
Phlomis fruticosa – Jerusalem sage is an attractive Mediterranean perennial shrub. Small, spreading and evergreen, the grey-green foliage and bright yellow flowers on tall stems are very attractive. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Phlomis russelliana – this variety, known as Turkish sage, is a herbaceous perennial variety. It has large, grey-green heart-shaped foliage and pale yellow flowers. The plant dies back in winter.
Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’ – with upright purple stems that carry whorls of lavender-coloured flowers and heart-shaped sage-coloured leaves, this is a very attractive variety
Phlomis italica – the stems and foliage are much paler and hairier than other species, with very small violet flowers