Phlomis fruticosa

Jerusalem Sage

Phlomis in garden crop

Jerusalem Sage is a very striking and unusual plant to add to your drought tolerant or deer resistant garden. The fuzzy gray-green leaves seem unpalatable to deer and being a Mediterranean native makes it a great choice for our dry summers. It acts as more of a shrub than perennial, staying evergreen in all but the coldest winters. Ours died back a few years ago when it got to 7 degrees, but came back full and lush the next summer. It can grow to 4' tall and wide but can be pruned in fall to keep it more compact.  We have found it to be fully deer resistant even in the hills of east Medford and seems to be tolerating the clay there as well.  As long as it is not overwatered.   The large, fuzzy leaves make a nice contrast to the finer leaves of most drought tolerant plants.  

Phlomis detail cropStarting in May, the yellow flowers emerge in whorls along the sturdy stems and attract bees and butterflies throughout the summer.  Phlomis will take full sun to light shade and will tolerate poor soil, requiring good drainage, and even tolerating some clay if not overwatered.  Phlomis russeliana is a similar looking Jerusalem Sage that we sometimes carry; it tends to spread by runners instead of staying in one clump and stays a bit shorter, but will stay within bounds. Both species remain attractive even after the blooms fade, their seedheads keeping an architectural sillouette throughout the colder months and providing seed for birds. They look great with ornamental grasses, Lavenders, Nepetas, Asters, Sages, Vitex, and other Meditteranean type plants. Just prune back the flower stems when you're done with them and that's about all you have to do to maintain them.